Jan 042018

Winter Blahs?

Are you looking for something new in your homeschool?

Are you dreading starting back to school after a long Christmas break? (We’re attempting it today. Not going so well…)

Winter Blahs

How about trying something different while you get back in the swing of things?

The Presidents of the United States Video Based Unit Study from Paradise Praises might be just what you’re looking for.

Disclosure – I received compensation and a free copy of this study to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. Post contains affiliate links.

Presidents of the United States Video Based Unit Study

This digital unit study, available as a downloadable pdf, consists of a one page chart for each president and an appendix. Each chart contains key facts like the years the president held office and who was the vice president. There are also video links and book suggestions for each president as well as geography tie-ins, field trip ideas, art and other suggested activities for many. The appendix contains suggestions for additional resources, a blank US Map, blank notebooking template pages, and vocabulary lists.

The schedule suggests studying 1 president per day. That provides 9 weeks of study including a final day for studying the first ladies. If you started next week, you’d be over halfway finished by President’s Day!

My Thoughts

This a simple unit study. There are not a lot of extras built in though there are plenty of ideas in the resource section. It’s essentially a plan of videos to watch, books to read, and appropriate activities.

Could you find all this yourself? Yes.

Would you do it? Speaking from my own experience, probably not. Sure, you might start well, but to actually keep going and make it through all the presidents? I’d end up with something more pressing. I wouldn’t have time to find a video one day. We’d skip that day. That would turn into a week and eventually my great idea of studying each of the presidents would be abandoned. (I hope I’m not the only one this happens too!)

The biggest value that I see in this product is that it’s ready to go. You don’t have to search for an appropriate YouTube video. The work is already done for you. You don’t have to decide which library books to order. They’re on the chart. This product is ideal for the homeschool mom who needs something that the kids can do independently while she works with another student, cooks, cleans, takes a nap, or whatever she needs to do.

You might enjoy this product if…

  • You are looking for something straightforward and easy-to-implement.
  • You don’t have the time and/or desire to put together your own studies.
  • Your children are familiar enough with a computer to open files and click links unassisted.
  • You have a good library system to order books.

This probably isn’t for you if…

  • You frequently create and enjoy creating your own unit studies.
  • You don’t want your children to watch YouTube videos about the U.S. Presidents. (Or go to YouTube at all.)
  • You are looking for something that includes reading and comprehension questions.

How I would use this –

I think this is a great addition to any elementary American History curriculum. Instead of studying 1 president per day, I would probably study 1 president per week that roughly corresponds to the time period in history we’re studying. We’re using Story of the World Volume 3 this year and this is the perfect time to start the Presidents of the United States Unit Study since we’ve completed up to the start of the American Revolution in our history studies.


You can view samples and purchase this product at Paradise Praises.

Have you started back to school yet? Do you start everything at once or ease into it? Do you like to change things around for the new semester?


Jan 232017

VCF Exploring our worldThis week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is Exploring Our World. I’ve been looking back through old posts about some of the ways we’ve studied history and geography. One of the things that I love about the Virtual Curriculum Fair is that it encourages me to look back over old posts. There is a lot of our homeschool history on this blog. I found that my Virtual Curriculum Fair posts are some of the best.

Last year I wrote Encouraging Curiosity About the World which focused on my oldest son and our years homeschooling him. The year before I described Unschooling Science and the previous was Raising Map Nuts. I looked at these and thought, “What can I add to this?” (Don’t worry, I thought of something!)

There is one activity that has been especially helpful for learning history in our home – reading historical fiction. Both of my girls have read many historical fiction books that they have chosen themselves from the library. I’ve let them read about a variety of historical topics in no particular order. In that way, they’ve built up a basic history knowledge with essentially no effort from me. As a result, they’ve developed an interest in various historical time periods and had a desire to learn more.

Literature-Based History Curricula

While just reading historical fiction is helpful, the love of historical fiction can be built upon with literature-based history curricula. I’ve used a couple of different history curricula that utilized historical fiction and provided a more systematic and logical approach to learning history than random library checkouts. By the way, you can read how I keep track of library books, if you have trouble turning books in on time.

The first one, Truthquest, provides books arranged by topic for specific time periods. You can read my complete review of Truthquest.

The other literature-based history program that we’ve used is Tapestry of Grace. We used it for several years when my older children were younger. We’ve started back with Tapestry of Grace this school year with my 5th grader, Lizzie. Here’s my review of Tapestry of Grace. I also have all the posts on Tapestry of Grace tagged. In addition, I have compared Tapestry of Grace to two other popular literature based history curricula: Sonlight and My Father’s World.

Historical fiction is not just for the kids. I’ve found that reading historical fiction inspires me to learn and study more about particular time periods. There are a couple of  mystery series set in World War I that I have enjoyed so much that I keep looking for more books about that time period.


Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:

Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.

Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Social Science, Science and Exploring our World – Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Beyond the Books – Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time

Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

Aug 032016

Compass Classroom recently released a new modern history class entitled Modernity, and they gave me the opportunity to preview the course. Covering a wide range of topics from modern history including the Enlightenment, Napoleon, the Industrial Revolution, and the World Wars, the high school level class consists of 27 weekly lessons. Each lesson includes 5 video segments with instructor Dave Raymond that are approximately 20 minutes long.

Along with the video, there are accompanying reading assignments available in Kindle, pdf, and epub formats. In addition to the lecture and reading, the student works on a portfolio and several projects over the course of the school year. The modern history projects include a Reformation Imitation Project, a Speech on Tradition, a Research Paper, and the Hour Project.

The Hour Project is an open-ended final project of the student’s choosing. It should be something that takes a substantial number of hours to complete (they recommend 30-40) and can showcase the talents and interests of the student. Some examples in the teacher guide include copying a famous paintings, making a reproduction of a piece of Victorian furniture, or creating an illustrated children’s book.


4 things to love about Modernity

  1. Easy to teach – The course is well-laid out and teacher friendly. It’s divided into daily lessons so it’s very open and go with little to no planning required.
  2. Interesting presentation –  Dave Raymond is excited about history and it shows in his presentation. He’s interesting to listen to. While much of the video is lecture, there is a nice blend of related images mixed with the video of the speaker.
  3. Christian Worldview – There is plenty of opportunity to study history from the politically correct, secular worldview. This class not only teaches history from a Christian perspective, but also provides the Christian perspective of why history is important to study.
  4. Variety – While the format is predictable with 5 daily videos and corresponding readings, the projects and portfolio pages add the opportunity for students to be creative and truly own the content.

If you’re looking for an American History course you can read my review.

Discloser: I received a free download of 8 lessons of Modernity in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post includes affiliate links.

Mar 142016

I’m continuing my look back over the 13 years of homeschooling my oldest son, David. This week the Virtual Curriculum Fair focuses on Exploring Our World. I think that my statement of Starting Gently, Finishing Strong, may be less applicable to this topic.

We did indeed start gently. We used Story of the World in the elementary years and I thought it laid a good foundation for later history studies. We used the Apologia Elementary science series and also enjoyed learning about plants and animals with that series.

I do plan to use those books again, but I think I was a bit too concerned with remembering the facts. Not that I spent a lot of time drilling my older children on history and science facts, I didn’t. But it was something that I always felt that I should be doing more of. We’ve always managed to complete the “skill” subjects while the “content” subjects took a backseat. I worried when it came to my attention that my children didn’t know their history dates.

So when high school came, I decided it was time to really get serious about these subjects and make sure that we did them well. So we muscled our way through Notgrass World History and the Apologia Science courses. There wasn’t really much enjoyment there.

Honestly, that was not what I had envisioned for high school. I wanted us to have discussions about history. I wanted my students to read real books and original source documents. I pictured complex science fair projects with original research. OK, I know I dream big.

So high school didn’t look how I’d originally envisioned. It ended up being a whole lot more like traditional school than I thought it would. But I have realized that there are 2 things that we provided throughout the years. These things were good for encouraging curiosity about the world. Those are providing

  1. Easy access to resources and information about topics of interest.

  2. Time to explore those interests.

David is currently taking Psychology at the community college. He has recently told me how much time he spent reading a book about the brain when he was around 8-10 years old. He was fascinated by the brain and how it works. He studied it so much at that time, that now, all these years later, he remembers studying many of the things he’s learning about in his class now!

David had time to read about the brain when he was younger. He had time to learn about making videos. Even in high school, he has spent countless hours researching topics for videos and making and editing those videos. He had time to spend doing things that he’s passionate about.

And the kid who never showed any interest in social science has spent hours researching the presidential candidates. It turns out he needed a reason to be interested. Aren’t we all like that? Why did I expect my kids to be interested in everything?

Encouraging Curiosity Virtual Curriculum FairYou can read other posts about Exploring the World at the 2016 Virtual Curriculum Fair.

Yvie @ Gypsy Road – Bringing It to Life! History, Geography, & Science 

Jen Altman @ Chestnut Grove Academy – Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016: Exploring Our World, How We Do Social Studies and Life/Earth Science 

Laura @ Day by Day in Our World – Learning About the World Around Us 

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses  – Social Studies a Science of Relations

Lisa @ GoldenGrasses – Exploring & Discovering Around the World 

Annette @ A Net In Time – Science and Culture Around the World and at Home

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break –  Exploring History and Geography 

Laura @ Four Little Penguins  – Going Around the World at Our Kitchen Table

Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory – Our Tackling of the Social Studies and Science
If you have a post to share about how you explore the world in your homeschool, you can add it to the link below.

Jul 032014

It’s summer. We don’t have to do school, right?

Maybe not officially, but I like to make sure we’re still learning. Recently, I’ve had a great opportunity to sneak a little history into my family’s day.

Experience History Through Music

Experience History Through Music

I don’t know if your kids are like mine, but I cannot watch a video or play any song on my computer without everybody running to see what I’m watching or listening to. It can be annoying, but it does have its uses – like if you want them to watch or listen to something. It’s the perfect way to introduce the music portion of Experience History Through Music to unsuspecting children.

Another sneaky thing I like to do is leave interesting books lying around. Especially if they have an interesting cover and photographs on the inside. The saying about not judging a book by its cover is good advice, but a good cover is definitely a plus. That’s how I got my 14 year old daughter to read Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder from cover to cover without even asking her to. It’s also why I’ve seen my 12 year old son flipping through the books and reading sections from time to time. That works until they disappear into my daughter’s room so she can try out some of the songs on her violin.


There are three books in the Experience History Through Music Series:

America – Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho! – Heart of the Old West
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder


I love the format of these books. Each contain a 1-2 page illustrated spread that tells the story behind a song. These stories typically give both specifics about the history of the song, and a more general description of the events in history that the song pertains to. The short length of each segment makes it easy to either very quickly read a small portion, or as time allows, to continue reading multiple sections.

Sheet Music

I also love that the books include simple sheet music for the songs. In our home, my older daughter plays the violin, and my middle son plays the piano. Both are able to (fairly) easily play the music in these books.


The accompanying music cd’s are professional, high quality recordings. They are a vitally important part of this study. It seems pointless to study about a song without listening to it! We honestly don’t listen to a lot of music in the house, but these are going to have a rotation in the car once we start back to school with all the short trips we make to classes, lessons, etc.


America – Heart of a New Nation includes many familiar songs like Yankee Doodle, the Star Spangled Banner, and Oh! Susanna. It focuses on the time period beginning at the American Revolution through the Civil War. Westward Ho! has some overlap in time period with America – Heart of a New Nation, but its focus is on songs related to westward expansion like the Oregon Trail, cattle drives, and even sailing songs (Before the railroad, many goods were transported west by sailing around South America). I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs in this volume except for Home on the Range.  Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder also overlaps the Westward Ho! time period, but it details specific songs and facts related to the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I enjoyed reading all these books, but especially Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have loved everything Little House on the Prairie since childhood and have a collection of various books and videos about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have also visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri and hope to visit some of the other home sites and museums in the future.

These books would make a fantastic addition to any homeschooler’s library. They could be used to supplement any American History curriculum, as stand-alone unit study spines, or as inviting coffee table books.

The books are $18.99 each and are available at from DianaWaring.com. For the month of July, you can purchase all 3 books for $50.

Don’t miss this fantastic giveaway to celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music. It ends tomorrow!


Diana WaringAuthor of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.


Disclaimer: I received the complete set of Experience History Through Music in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 


Jun 192014

Third Grade Curriculum

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl will be in the 3rd grade this fall! Lizzie is, for the most part, a cooperative student. She grasps new concepts quickly, and she doesn’t mind writing things down. She liked having her own school desk in the living room this year and did well with most of the curriculum, so we’ll be continuing on with much of the same for her third grade curriculum.

Third Grade Curriculum MathMath

She is a natural at math and enjoys it. Singapore and Miquon have been a great fit for her. She’ll be working in Singpore 3A and 3B as well as the final two Miquon books: Yellow and Purple.

Third Grade Curriculum Language Arts

Language Arts

I love All About Spelling. It’s super easy to use and works well for both the natural speller and the struggling speller. Lizzie will be using Level 3 this fall.

I have fallen in love with Memoria Press Literature guides. She worked through most of the 2nd grade ones this year and will be starting with Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the fall. Then we’ll be using Farmer Boy, The Moffat’s and Charlotte’s Web. All great books!

For handwriting, she’ll be using New American Cursive 3 also from Memoria Press. She has done amazingly well. This is the first time I’ve strayed from Handwriting without Tears. I like the appearance of New American Cursive so much better!

Rod & Staff English is a favorite in our house. With her literature lessons and Latin studies, she really doesn’t need the complete course. I’ll be using it as a supplement though.

Third Grade Curriculum Latin and BibleLatin

I have become a fan of Memoria Press Latin series after initially rejecting it for my oldest son. (I’m still not sure that was a bad decision. Different children learn best with different approaches.) I like the no-nonsense approach of Memoria Press. Lizzie finished Prima Latina this year and will be moving on to Latina Christiana I.


I’m trying something new this year. We’re starting Classical Academic Press’s Bible curriculum called God’s Great Covenant – Old Testament 1. We haven’t started of course, but I think Lizzie and William are going to like it.  I’ll give a more thorough opinion after use.

Now this leaves the things that I have really struggled with getting done. History and science require more time and effort from me. I really like the resources that I own and I want to give myself another chance to make it work. I am planning on making these as low key as possible, but I don’t feel like I can continue to ignore these subjects with my younger students. I hope to keep these as simple as possible.

Third Grade Curriculum History and ScienceHistory

We will be reading The Story of the World Volume 1. I own the audio version as well, so I may not actually be doing the reading. Along with that we’ll be using the activity guide for note booking exercises and I am hoping to implement a “book basket” with related resources for independent reading time.


I’m sticking with my old favorite Apologia Elementary here too. We’ll be working through 1 or more of the zoology books next year. I will have a book basket with more titles there as well.


Apr 142014

As I look back over David’s homeschool career, history has often been a struggle. We started off well, with lots of hands-on projects and notebook pages. He began to use the computer for making notebook pages at a young age (about 2nd grade). We had one year in a co-op for Tapestry of Grace and in hindsight that was a good year. At the time I was often frustrated with the group setting.

Starting in David’s 6th grade year things really started to go downhill in the history department. We focused on reading real books, but we often rushed. I tried to keep all the children together in their history assignments. I was frazzled. Most of the hands-on projects disappeared from our home. Basically the only thing that we managed to slog through was the reading.

With high school coming, I knew that something had to change, so I went in a completely new direction for David. I went with the Textbook – Get It Done Approach for World History. And honestly, there were some things that worked really well with it. The program we used was broken down into daily readings so it was very simple to use. It included comprehension questions, quizzes, and tests. And we made it through.  It did nothing to ignite a love of history though.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I received a free download of Part 1 in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Next year is American History. I was going to have David use the Textbook – Get It Done Approach again. That is  until I had an opportunity to review Dave Raymond’s American History Curriculum from Compass Classroom.

American HistoryI am excited to give this curriculum a try. It has some of the features that have worked well for David.

  • Well structured and divided into daily lessons
  • Includes quizzes and tests

But there are some major differences that I am excited about.

Video format

The daily lessons include a relatively short video (about 10 minutes) with Dave Raymond teaching. I think this format will work well for David. He tends to lose focus with lots of reading. I like that Dave Raymond stresses taking notes. That is a skill that David needs to develop before going to college and this will be good practice.

Accompanying readings

The readings are mostly primary source documents that go along with the lecture. They are typically not lengthy. One thing I love about both the student and teacher guide is that the download includes  a pdf version, a Kindle version, and an epub version! So David can read from the Kindle, but I can print things as necessary from the pdf version on my computer. Super idea!

Portfolio and other projects –

This is what I find the most exciting about this curriculum. I feel like we’re coming full circle back to our early days of studying history. (Ones that David actually enjoyed!) Along with the lectures and the reading, the student completes a portfolio of their work. (Similar to the notebook pages we used to do.)It’s described as a scrapbook type of book, but I think we will likely modify it for David and have him create his in electronic form. There are also several other assignments – some of which include a research paper, delivering an historical speech, and the final project called the Hour Project. The options on the Hour Project are limitless, but knowing my son, the project will likely culminate with a video production.

Updated: The curriculum is now available as a whole with 26 lessons. It’s available as a download (regular price $120) or on DVD (current price $120/set). You can also view samples on the Compass Classroom website. To make this a full high school credit, it is necessary to complete the extra projects, however, the curriculum is suitable for upper middle school as well.


Sep 252012

This summer we went on the most amazing vacation to Arizona. In the spring, as we were planning our trip, we were floundering a bit in our history studies. My husband suggested I try a unit study on Native Americans. I thought that was a great idea so I went straight to work on putting one together.

Well, no.

It was a great idea, but I never had the time to even look for a unit study, much less come up with my own.

So a couple of guilty months later, we were starting back to school, and I was offered an opportunity to review a unit study from Homeschool Legacy. Hmm. Let’s see, they have one on trees, horses, birds, Lewis & Clark, Native America, Early Settlers,…

Wait! Native America? The study I was supposed to do last spring? Well, better late than never, right? And now that we’ve visited all those western sites, it will be that much easier to imagine the Native Americans living there. Right?

Homeschool Legacy Native America, is part of the Once-a-Week Unit Studies series from Homeschool Legacy. The studies are designed so that all the activities in the study are done on one day of the week. That is with the exception of reading. They don’t have to be done that way, but I love the concept. On unit study day you can have a very short math lesson (or not) and jump right into the study for the rest of your school day. The other days have students select from the huge basket of  library books on the topic, and read from the family read-aloud. The study includes extensive book lists for all reading levels. (The Native America study can be used for 2nd through 12th grades!) There are a wide variety of activities including map activities, recipes, games, crafts, devotions, and much more. There are suggested field trips and movies for family movie night as well.

The units in the Native America study are arranged geographically. If you start at the first unit, you’ll be introduced to to the Northeast Woodland Nations. This is followed by the Southeast Woodland, The Southwest, The Plains, The Pacific Northwest, and finally the California Plateau/Great Basin Nations. After consulting the author, I decided to begin with the Southwest Nations, both because of our vacation, and the following week, on the Plains Nations, tied in well with my older daughter’s history studies. (I’m breaking all my own advice with history this year. My children are all over the place in their studies!)

Here are some cliff dwellings we visited in Arizona. This is Montezuma’s Castle.

Here’s a closer view.

The book list is huge, and I was able to find a wide variety of books in our library. There were some exact titles not available, but those were easy to substitute. The author includes Dewey decimal numbers for the books, making both catalog and in-person library searches, very easy!

The activities are varied for the different weeks. For example, in the Plains week, we played a matching game that helped reinforce all the ways that the Native Americans used bison. It even suggested making bison burgers. (That one I didn’t do. I didn’t know a local source of bison meat.) In the Pacific Northwest some fun activities include making a family totem pole and cooking salmon on a cedar plank.

Do your children participate in Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls? These unit studies have special notes to show you which activities can be used to earn badges and awards in those clubs! What a way to multi-task! We’re not involved in either of those organizations, but I’ve always wondered how people found the time for working on all those badges.

Once-a-Week studies are great supplements to other history or science curricula. Or you can use them as a stand-alone curriculum. They’re great for getting your whole family on the same page for at least some of your studies! There are even “Stump Your Dad Trivia” questions. They are super easy to implement.

You can visit Homeschool Legacy to see all the different Once-a-Week Studies they offer. Here is a link for more information about the Native America study. The study is available for $17.95.

Disclosure: I received Native America from Homeschool Legacy in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Aug 302012

Do your children like to act out their history lessons?

Do you want to make history come alive?

Does your history curriculum suggest activities like dressing in historical clothing?

Costumes with CharacterI have a fantastic resource to recommend. I was recently given a copy of Costumes with Character from Golden Prairie Press to review. Costumes with Character contains information about the different clothing styles worn by women and girls during various eras of American History. It also has instructions and patterns for making your own period costumes that are both simple and inexpensive.

How can you make period clothing both simply and inexpensively?

The concept of this book is wonderfully simple. To start, you make or modify a basic dress. Then that same dress is used for all the costumes. For each period, there are things that you make to add to the dress such as different collars and aprons. What a fantastic idea!



My 12 year old daughter Anna wants to learn to sew, so I let her look at the book and see what interested her. Since she’s been studying the pioneers, she decided to make a sunbonnet.

The instructions for each of the projects are included in Costumes with Character, but the patterns must be enlarged.

That was actually a fun lesson in using a grid for enlarging a drawing.

The instructions were reasonably well written. I am not an expert seamstress, but I’m not a beginner either. I did used to sew much more frequently. (I don’t have much free time these days! I wonder why?) I found that I had to start on the project before some of the instructions made sense.

We ended up modifying the pattern just a bit and using elastic in the back at the neckline instead of tightening with ribbon. I also made the ties inside-out thinking that we were going to turn them. But that was not the fault of the instructions. It very clearly showed sewing them the other way. I’m not sure where my brain was.

Then we ran into some machine difficulties. We decided to finish the bonnet using hand stitching. That’s more authentic anyway, right?

Here’s Anna modeling her new sunbonnet! I think it turned out really cute .

I received Costumes with Character in e-book format to review. It is regularly priced at $21.95. The book is also available printed for $37.00. In addition, the printed patterns are available for $15.00. That would definitely be much easier than having to enlarge all the patterns in the book.


Disclosure: I received Costumes with Character in e-book format for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. Any quoted price is subject to change.

Aug 092012

Are you interested in history?

What about the development of language (English specifically)?

If so, I have a recommendation for you.

And even if you aren’t interested in history or the development of language, I think this book might just spark some interest.

The book is King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do by Laurie White.

King Alfred's EnglishI received a copy of King Alfred’s English to review. It is the Kindle version, so I was able to download it while I was on vacation. I read the introduction and knew immediately that it was going to be a good book. But I was on vacation, and when I got home I let various things keep me from getting back to the book until a couple of weeks ago. As my review deadline loomed, I knew I had to get reading.

However, I had no trouble at all finishing this book in time. (Getting the review written on the other hand is a different story!) This is without a doubt, the most interesting history book that I can remember reading. The author, Laurie White, has an engaging writing style. The book is easy to read, yet not simple. It is full of facts, but not dry or boring. She doesn’t use that annoying chatty writing style. (Obviously some people like it, but I ironically find it annoying. Not in blogs of course, but in books.) But even though the book isn’t chatty, it does almost feel like listening to an interesting speaker.

King Alfred’s English recounts the history of the English language. It describes the major influences of the language, and as a result, it discusses much of the history of England. It is not an in-depth history of England, but I found it to be a marvelous survey. I tend to get a bit OCD about historical books and start trying to make sure we read them when we’re studying that time period in history. And I guess you could stretch this book out and read it along with your history lessons, but I think this book is best to just read. If you’re familiar with some of the history, then it’s a great review for those parts. If some of the history is new, then it’s a wonderful introduction for more in-depth study.

Since I’ve been teaching (or more accurately, facilitating the study of) Latin to my children, I found it especially interesting to learn that Old English was an inflected language like Latin. Inflected means that the function of the words in the sentence is determined by the word endings. In Modern English, word order determines the meaning. As time passes, languages tend to simplify, and English lost the inflection. Since Latin is a dead language, it didn’t simplify to the same point that English has.

To say that English has simplified might make it sound like it is easy. That is of course, not true. The vocabulary in English far exceeds that of other languages. King Alfred’s English explains why. It also covers the Reformation in England and how it led to an English translation of the Bible. In addition, there is an interesting section on how the King James Bible has affected English.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. It is available from Christianbook.com (current price is $14.89) and Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle (for $16.95 and $5.95 respectively). You can also find more information about the book as well as teacher helps and student pages at the author’s website, The Shorter Word.


Disclosure: I received a copy of King Alfred’s English to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.This post contains an affiliate link.