Review: Classical Historian’s Medieval History Memory Game

Okay, show of hands: How many people LOVED history as a student in school?
What?  Why am I not seeing tons of hands raised?
Oh, history was boring?  All you did was read dry textbooks, hear dry lectures, and do a few research projects?
How many good history days did you have as a student?  Less than the number of fingers on your hands?

Well, isn’t that one of the reasons we homeschool?  We can make learning enjoyable!  We can make it stand out as fun while allowing our children to excel also.  And when we choose to educate classically, we give them even more of a chance to learn various time periods as well as history around the world, not just once in tenth grade, but throughout their time as students.

The De Gree family, a homeschool family of seven children, have created an award winning curriculum as well as some supplementary products.  If you want to learn more about their curricula, classes, supplements, and family, you can find them at http://www.classicalhistorian.com or http://www.facebook.com/classicalhistorian .  Additionally, you can find more reviews of these products at :::coming soon::::

The product I was offered to review was the memory game, the medieval history one.

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As it turns out, Ace is a champion at memory games.  In fact, I had to download ones meant for older people onto my ipad because the preschool ones were way too easy.  So getting a memory game in the mail was nice!  Now I could teach him something while challenging him memory game wise.

Okay, so what did we get.  Well, as I mentioned, there are 64 cards, two of each of 32 topics.  They are very sturdy cards with good pictures and a short description like Charlemagne, Nuns, Samurai, Castle, and Machu Picchu. There is an instruction sheet to tell you how to play each of two games, a regular matching game as well as a game where you match each card to the correct category ( PUT CATEGORIES HERE!). My children are really too young for the category game.

Now, on the website, it says the matching game is good for ages 3 plus.  It also says that the game is simply to introduce the pictures and names to the children.  I think it would be nice if they would add a cheat sheet with a sentence or two about each thing.  Remember, many of those of us who are teaching our children got very little, if any, world history in school ourselves.  So it is possible that we wouldn’t know what to tell our seven year olds about Charlemagne or Machu Picchu.  Obviously, our curriculum will, in time, help us fill in the information; and we can always use our friends Google and Bing.  I just think it would be nice to have a cheat sheet.

I have another concern about the program.  It gives four location categories, but the great majority of the cards are from Europe.  Now, I can understand that to a degree.  I even went and looked at another history program and found that a larger percentage of the topics there were also about Europe.  But it wasn’t *as* uneven.  It was close enough that I had to count it to see it with the other program where there is no doubt looking at the answer key for Classical Historian. On top of that, a LOT of topics were Christian/Catholic in nature.  Again, I can understand that to a degree based on the time period.  Now, it is their curriculum supplement and they can have whatever they wish.  I just think that part of a classical history about a time period is about moving away from ego-centrism.  I would have liked some of the more common and general topics to be left out or combined while adding more topics from other areas.

Though I said that, my kids thanked me for letting them play.  I loved that the cards are so sturdy, especially as I had an almost three year old enjoying the game with me.  I liked that there were lots of topics to choose from (we made a smaller game as my children found 64* cards challenging).

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So I definitely think the product is good.  It is also affordable ($14.95).  It is something I can see using again and again with my crew over the next couple years, especially when we make it to that time period.  I probably will make myself an information sheet with key points about each topic to share here and there with the children.  We’ll also be more likely to use certain cards than others, especially while we’re working with smaller groups of cards.

Isn’t it great when your kids actually THANK you for sharing an educational product with them?!?!  That was the best part!

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Review: How Do We Know God Is Really There?

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Recently, I received a copy of the book, How Do We Know God Is Really There by Melissa Cain Travis.

The book is available through Apologia Educational Ministries.  There are many ways to learn more about them.

Apologia is most well-known for their elementary through high school level science courses.  Many years ago, I taught a cooperative class of homeschooled and private school students using their Biology book as our core.

This direct address for this book is http://shop.apologia.com/books/367-how-do-we-know-god-is-really-there-.html  At this link, you can purchase the book for $16.

So what is this book?  It is a good physical quality, hard cover book.  The website describes it as a read-aloud picture book “designed to introduce kids to important questions of the Christian faith in terms even pre-readers can understand.”

I believe the book is simple enough for the intended audience to understand the beliefs it shares.  The pictures are simple and are enjoyable (the book is illustrated by Christopher Voss), with a picture included on each two-page spread throughout the book.

I would expect that most families would read the story together, checking to see if the children got the point as they went. A good reader or older child could read the book independently.  Younger children may like looking at the pictures in their free time. Some families may investigate further by looking up information about certain planets, scientists, creation history, etc.  There is only one scripture cited; but families could also look it up in a couple Bible versions to better get the sense of it.  They might also find other topically-relevant scriptures.

I did have a problem with the sentence structure and combinations throughout the book, especially on the second page.  I wouldn’t have said “They would” at all, much less several times.  Sometimes, it seemed the book was written by a young person.  I feel bad mentioning this though as writing isn’t my best subject or ability either.  However, I also didn’t publish a book.  I simply believe children’s literature, though it may have a different goal (in this case, being informative regarding faith and science), should be a good model, or at least not a poor one, for our children.  In my opinion, the issue was to the degree of being distracting.

I also think the book would have been better if it were:

  • either shorter as it really took awhile to get into and was wordy;
  • or if it was a simple chapter book, maybe three chapters, going just a tad further.

One additional section to add would be a letter to parents.  In that, I would include a little more science to help parents answer questions or go further as well as give resources (scriptural, online, or other books).

I think it handles the question of “but where did it come from” very well. Physicists have known for a long time that “Another theory…will be needed to explain the original creation of the universe.” Of course, creation itself tells of it’s Creator.

I think it was wise for the materials not to take a position regarding old and young earth creationism also as it will make it more palatable for both groups.

DISCLAIMER: Generally, I would leave my review to the above.  However, I do feel the need, since this is primarily a book regarding religious belief, to address the fact that my family will not be using this publishers books about faith, whether each one, individually, is theologically sound or not, as we do not believe the same as their company does about many matters of spirituality.

Review: The Squatty Potty

WARNING:  The following is *full* of *way* TO MUCH INFORMATION!  

So my hubby would say that this is a cr@ppy topic.  Honestly, getting my men to discuss it at all was near impossible.  I may never know the truth about whether or not they use this product or what they think about it.

But this is an *awesome* product that does *exactly* what it says!  Let’s start with the basics.

What is the Squatty Potty? 

The Squatty Potty looks like a funny shaped stool.  It is funny shaped so it fits directly under the bowl part of your toilet.  If you need to go potty without using it (or if your family member or neighbor wants to go without using it), they easily can as the Squatty Potty isn’t hindering anyone’s access to the toilet itself.  The top of it has a slight slope away from the toilet.  This is for your comfort when you are resting your feet on it.  You do not stand upon the Squatty Potty; instead, you sit on your throne with your feet stabilized on the SP (for short).

Why on earth would you use that thing?

The answer to this is simply.  It works.  🙂  Okay, what do I mean.  The purpose of the Squatty Potty is to put your body in the proper position for elimination.  The basics, as I understand it, are 1) you have a muscle that helps you keep your excrement to yourself until you need to and decide to eliminate and 2) that muscle relaxes most fully when you are in a squatting position (ie, you are not relaxing it fully when you just sit upon your throne).  By being in the best position, you can prevent and cure such things as straining during elimination, pelvic floor issues, constipation, and hemorrhoids.

Why did *I* choose this product?

I am *not* being paid for this review.  In fact, they don’t even know I’m making the review (though I’ll probably tell them at some point).  I found this product when looking for websites about pelvic floor prolapse and other such issues.  I watched the video and read the website and was convinced to give it a try.  Really, a natural remedy when I was considering surgery?

First and foremost, let me tell you that it works just like it says it does.  My issues have resolved for the most part (not 100% yet; but it has been a month and they are so much better it isn’t funny).  How do I know they’ve resolved?  First, I “go” more easily.  Second, I’m more comfortable ALL of the time, but also when “going.”  Third, when I exercise, especially doing sit ups, I don’t feel like I’m “going.”  Seriously, good stuff.  “Going” also takes moments for a complete elimination rather than multiple trips.

I strongly recommend this product.

What we got: 

We got a special package that included three Squatty Potties.  I got a 9 inch and two 7 inch.  I also got a couple brochures left in the bathroom for inquiring visitors.  The SPs were wrapped in a plastic bag and shipped in a brown packing box.  Nothing special 🙂

How We Use:

I put a 7 inch SP in the master bathroom as I figured we weren’t advanced users.  Though the potty in the kids’ bathroom is smaller, I ended up putting the 9 inch in there because of how things looked when I tried each of my children out on it.  My 20 year old prefers that bathroom.  I found it comfortable also.  On top of using it for the obvious reason, my almost 3yo stands on it as a regular stool to go pee pee (he is at the beginning of potty training – we have not yet done The Potty Party as he is new to our home).

So Pros/Cons:

So I’ve already sung the praises of the Squatty Potty.  I really believe it does exactly what it says.  My children and I love using it.  Storing it is easy.  I just got the white ones, but you can get wooden ones if you please.

Con?  Well, the biggest complaint I have is that I just don’t need to play online in the bathroom.  That really stinks because I need breaks (having eight children and all 🙂 ).  One real issue I found was that I have had a few times my legs have fallen asleep.  I assume that this is because I am still obese so staying on it too long (usually because of playing online, not because of eliminating) puts me in that position to have my legs fall asleep.  No doubt continuing to lose weight and stopping my online playing would fix the problem.  My daughter and the little children have not reported any cons at all.

In Conclusion: 

I wholeheartedly endorse the Squatty Potty.  Since we only have two bathrooms, I have to decide what to do with the third.  I thought about giving it away.  I thought about waiting til I find a needy person.  I selfishly have considered keeping it because my next house may have three thrones!

For more information, please see the Squatty Potty website at http://www.squattypotty.com.  Here is the video from their website: 

Update

So, I am sorry I have delayed so many posts.  You should see all the posts swimming in my head.  It is just very difficult for me to get time to write some days.  I started off this placement with extreme grief about Monkey.  In no way were we really ready for more kids.  I thought we were, but….Or maybe we are ready as it has worked out fine, just had to get over a major road block to do it.

Anyway, it is working out.  The children are awesome and most days with them have been fine.

Ace is 4½ years old.  He has been quite a mystery to me.  He came with extreme delays and some interesting “symptoms” of *something.* He tested MR with hints of this mental issue or that.  I poo-poo’d that idea right away.  Someone mentioned, “maybe autism spectrum” with the reminder that milder forms may look different.  Hmmmm.  That suggestion made me wonder if it is all trauma as we’ve now seen several examples of PTSD that seem like autism in times of stress.  I would guess that coming into care would be a time of stress.  I still haven’t figured it out.  I know that some of his behaviors were learned (and unlearned).  I know that some behaviors (and lack of skills) were due to circumstances.  I know that he is an extremely quick learner if you can find what he needs for you to reach him.  Anyway, so he has been a mystery in terms of what is going on with him.  The psych report done at the children’s shelter is useless.  My agency agrees with my want of a full psychological/developmental assessment by a certain psychologist.  They aren’t so keen on me waiting til August to give the little guy a little more time to settle in, relax, etc.  It’ll also be easier to show the insurance why they should pay again if we wait.

So Ace started preschool last week.  He went only two days and he’ll have two days this week.  Next week, he’ll start Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  He has done well there, is playing with the other children.  We’ll see how it goes.  He likes the duplo blocks the best.  Of course, balls are great.  He was very capable on the playground so I was a bit surprised when he seemed so awkward on the balance bike.  I told him once he can do it “like Swimmer” (with example), I’ll buy him a bike.  He likes the idea of a bike of his own. He is testing a little, just little things, just a “what will happen if” thing.  What will happen if I look at you and push the button on this thing you told me not to touch? But considering how he was when he got here, that is nothing; so we’ll take it 🙂

Champ is a Mini-Ace.  It is really a weird relationship.  It is obvious they’ve relied on each other for protection, comfort, companionship. Of course, that would be normal for brothers close in age anyway; but this is to an extreme.  What we’ve found interesting is that it goes both ways.  In some ways, possibly because Champ is developmentally closer to typical, Champ seems like the big brother.  But then there is the toddler/preschool learning aspect where Champ is following his big brother’s lead.  In many ways, it is very similar to the unhealthy relationship my three had with one another, especially the part where they keep other people out.  One big positive is that they do recognize they are separate people.

Anyway, Champ has really taken to me and I to him.  Honestly, I think he is probably the reason I pushed through at very first.  He’s a beautiful child with the most endearing smile.  We had to work a little to get it at first, but now he regularly uses his cuteness to engage people.  He loves to mini-trampoline (it is a kids’ one with handles).  He mostly stays back and watches people.  He’ll take toys they hand him though.  He likes cars though and will regularly carry one around.  He doesn’t talk much but when he does, it is full understandable sentences.  I think he was honeymooning though as the last couple days, he’s had a lot more tears and behavior.

Then there is The Baby.  She is the sweetest baby ever.  Had I ever had a baby like this, I probably never would have said, “no more babies!”  Seriously.  She’s a good good baby.  She is always checking things out.  She seems wise beyond her years or something.  She draws you in, engages you in conversation and play.  It is really neat.  She does have some stress reactions.  For example, no one else sees how wonderful she is but us.  She goes “flat” for an audience.  For my son?  He’ll lean his head into her and she’ll tap his head with hers.  I was really surprised she learned to do that so young!  She is most attached to me, making it clear she’s not happy if I leave the room (“I’ll be right back.  I’m gonna go get…”).   Oh, and she is addicted to tv.  I have never seen a baby who watches tv! Monkey wouldn’t watch anything on tv except Sparkabilities at 20 months.

She really is delayed.  We have feeding therapy and the developmental specialist currently.  The Dev Spec comes for communication and mobility.  THis week the physical therapist is coming out for an evaluation.  The OT said she didn’t qualify when she was in the children’s shelter, but will come back out in June for another eval.  We also have a private speech and physical therapist coming for evaluations.  We’ll have to choose who does the services depending on availability.  Typically, I choose private because they give significantly more time to us.  However, I’ve been around the block a time or two so can work with her as we’re in this inbetween time.  This past week, I got her to do a “barely-assisted” roll one direction (she can’t do it the other for whatever reason).    Mostly, she is just a happy baby 🙂

So recently, we decided to take the kids fishing when a town not too far away had a fishing event for children.

This is the only thing caught.  It was caught by Ace.

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This is my crew.

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A local “family” I thought were cute:

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We weren’t the biggest family there!

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Actually, we weren’t the biggest family anyway though.  First off, my two big kids didn’t go.  Second, when I was registering my crew, the guy told me one lady registered nine children.  I only registered five (the baby didn’t count).

So hopefully I’ll get some of these posts from my head to the blog. I have exciting news about Heidi.  Homeschooling has taken a back burner on my blog but should get more press.  I have three reviews (two for Mosaic Reviews, one just being a product I’m glad I bought) to post soon.  Crossfit and diet have slipped, but…

Of course, blogs have periods of more and less activities as life goes on.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to document a little of it though!  I have rarely wished I didn’t post something.  I’ve often wished I would have recorded X when it happened, especially when it is about kids who then progress to Y.

Reviews and Heidi

So two completely unrelated topics in this post.

First, I have joined a review team.  What is a review team?  In this case, it is a large group of homeschoolers who review products.  Many of the products will be homeschool curriculum and resources.  However, there will be health and beauty items, video/card/board games, cleaning products, foods, all sorts of things!  Now, I have already posted a review or two.  Those were not related to this group, just personal opinion.  When I am doing it related to this group, I will be sure to mention it.

 

My blog also has it’s own Facebook page now.  It is just getting started so a few comments and likes would be wonderful if you don’t mind!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/An-Intentional-Life/450052421730689

I took a picture of Heidi, my german shepherd puppy yesterday.  I take a picture each week and am just AMAZED how much this little dog is growing.  She was 7 pounds when I got her.  Saturday, she was over 15 pounds.

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Isn’t that an amazing difference for one month?!?!

She is so smart too.  We definitely still have puppy-ness going on though.  But I really believe this is gonna be an awesome dog in time.