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Teaching Textbooks

Great Children’s Books

Recently I was introduced to Salem Ridge Press, a publishing company that is republishing children’s books from the 1800’s and early 1900’s – books that are no longer available in print. The company was started by a homeschool graduate, Daniel Mills who wanted to provide books that parents can feel good about giving to their children because of the content: strong moral values, exciting content, and good character qualities.

A Little More about Salem Ridge Press:

After browsing their website and the various books that Salem Ridge Press offers, I am very impressed with the company’s philosophy and their goals. The verse that they base their philosophy on is Phillipians 4:8 . A recent newsletter clip nicely “sums up” their beliefs for me(emphasis mine):

“If I am going to bring a book back into print, I want to be able to stand behind it with no reservations. Very early on we realized that we were going to have to decide carefully what was appropriate in our books and what was not. I sometimes joke that our number one rule is, “No Kissing!” While many books from the 1800’s and early 1900’s are no problem at all this way, in several cases we have slightly edited passages which included a brief kiss or embrace. We want to be an encouragement to young people to maintain the highest standards of purity in their relationships. We have also edited out some derogatory comments that we felt were unnecessary or offensive.”

About the books I read:

Mary Jane – Her Book ($12.95) is a title for younger readers that both of our girls LOVED! Mary Jane is a five year old girl and the book is a compilation of her everyday adventures: helping out around the house, going on a picnic, planting a garden, learning to sew, and more. Laurianna and McKenna read this book to each other each night before bedtime and I could hear them giggling at the stories. (ages 6-10)

The American Twins of the Revolution ($12.95) is based on a true story during the American Revolution. It tells the story of a hidden shipment of gold and is full of adventure. This is one book that we will be adding to our curriculum when we study early American history! (ages 8-adult)

Glaucia the Greek Slave ($14.95) is a story based in Athens during the first century. It tells the story of Glaucia and her brother who were sold as slaves after their father’s death. There is a mystery surrounding their mother’s disappearance several years before. Glaucia’s brother Laon later meets the prisoner Paul, who shares about a new religion. This is the first of twelve books in a Church History series. You can read the first chapter of the book if you would like to get a feel for the books. (ages 10-adult)

An Added Bonus:

When you sign up to receive a quarterly newsletter, you will be entered to win one of their books each time a new title is released.

Until December 1st they are also holding a “Wish List Giveaway“. Make a wish list of 5 books that you would like from their website and they will email the list to 3 people and you could be one of five people that receives all the books on your list for FREE (hurry – that’s only a few days away!!).

This is definitely a company that I am going to be looking to in the future for supplements to our homeschool books. I am very impressed with their philosophy and the books that I have had the opportunity to read. And with Christmas coming up…there may just have to be a few books under the tree for the girls – we have to know what is happening with Mary Jane!

Christian Art Curriculum: Spears Art

Despite the fact that I am crafty (of sorts), being consistent with art in our school-time is not one of my strong points. I might incorporate an “art activity” that goes along with the topic we are currently studying, but it is not focused on any specific art techniques or components. It’s just doing a project for the sake of doing a project.

I was THRILLED to receive a full K-8th Christian Art Curriculum from Spears Art Studio to review. Over the last month and a half I have been using it with both my second and first grader and love the techniques that it is teaching as well as how simple it is to integrate into our school day. My girls are really enjoying it too and look forward to the lessons each week.

The curriculum, created by Diane Spears, is based on a theme for each week of the school year and includes one or more activities for each grade level based on the theme, and addresses various art elements, art principles, and design elements. It also incorporates the various seasonal elements (fall, Thanskgiving, Christmas, etc…). The curriculum is in PDF format ($39.95) and includes:

  • Scripture integration
  • full color illustrations
  • complete lesson plans for each school year week – plans include objectives, Scripture references, art history ideas, vocabulary, teacher prep and motivation, lesson focus, materials needed, directions for the activity and evaluation tools
  • 269 art activities
  • 137 patterns and posters
  • 498 instructional pages
  • evaluation tools for student’s art projects

The lessons are divided months/weeks of the year and also by grade level, making it quick and easy to find the grade level that you need. Teaching multiple children at the same time isn’t difficult to do and it is possible to use the curriculum year after year without repeating projects since they change based on the grade level your child is in. It is also versatile enough to be used in your own studies or in a group setting such as a homeschool co-op.

The Spears Art Studio website has sample lessons available along with more in-depth information about the curriculum. Overall, this curriculum is an amazing deal when you consider that it covers from K-8 for $40 (this includes shipping!) – that’s a little less than $5 a year for an amazing art curriculum. I willcontinue to use this curriculum in the upcoming years with my children and am very thankful that it is one that provides a Christ-centered view toward art education.

About the creator:

Diane Shields, the creator of Spears Art has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Christian art/education. She has taught in both the public and private systems.

If you would like to read other reviews of the Spears Art Curriuculum you can visit the Homeschool Crew blog.

The Missing Link

If your pre-teen/young teen loves action and adventure books, they are going to LOVE the Truth Seekers Mystery Series by Christina and Felice Gerwitz. I had the opportunity to read the first book in the series, The Missing Link: Found, and despite the fact that it is teen lit, I had to finish it to find out what happened. ;)

About the book:

The book contains MUCH action, adventure, and suspense. It is set in Florida and follows a brother and sister that find themselves in the middle of a mystery that could change scientific history. There is a possibility that THE missing link has been found during an archeological dig that their uncle was heading up. When he becomes sick, they join their father at the dig site where strange things beginning happening all around them. Throughout their time at the dig they have the opportunity to talk with their cousin about Creation and if evolution is a possibility.

The Missing Link: Found uses a “current” story line to teach the reader the differences between a Creation view and the evolution theory. There are explanations in the book on carbon 14 dating, fossilization, (and more) along with a handy glossary and reference section at the back of the book for more information.

About the author:

The idea for the series began when Christina (a homeschooled student) was 12 years old. She wanted to write a mystery novel and her mother jumped right in and helped her with her idea. Together they co-authored the three book series.

Felicia says:

“These books were geared for children who don’t enjoy reading. (and of course those who do enjoy reading will like them as well!).I pray this little story brings a smile to your homeschooled children and enjoyment that comes from reading fiction with a focus on glorifying God!”

My notes:

I am obviously not the target audience for this book *grins*, so some of the story line seemed a little unrealistic to me– but it’s fiction and for a reader in the intended audience it would be an exciting read. It was a HUGE encouragement to me hearing that the author Felicia was homeschooled, especially since I have a little one that loves to write – and it makes me want to encourage her even more in her writing! What a great accomplishment!

Where to purchase:

Media Angels currently has a pre-Christmas special to buy the entire series for $22.00. The Missing Link: Found is also available individually for $8.99.

There is also a literature study guide available for the book from Media Angels for $6.50.

A Little About Media Angels:

Media Angels is a publishing company that provides study guides on the topic of Creation science and corresponding activity packs, produces mystery novels for tweens and even has online seminars and DVD productions. The owners of Media Angels have homeschooled their children since 1986.

If you would like to read other’s reviews of the book, you can head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and visit there!

Tales of Glory Nativity Set

One of the products I recently received to review for The Homeschool Crew was the Tales of Glory nativity set by one2believe.

There are 17 pieces in the set – enough for everyone to play with (and in our house, that is an important factor). The figures are very sturdy (Zachary-tested and survived!) and a great size too – perfect for all the little hands in our house. The set also comes with a little story book and also a list of “Spiritual Stepping Stones” that help a parent mark their child’s spiritual development.

And even though it isn’t Christmas yet, many hours have already been spent playing with this set. Kaleb is especially fond of it and started saying “baby” and carrying baby Jesus around with him – so you know that it’s a winner with me! This set will definitely be with us for years to come.

You can order the Tales of Glory nativity set directly from the one2believe website. Our Walmart was also carrying some of their toys recently and Target should also be carrying it this holiday season.

***Intended for ages 3 and up***

Homeschool Library Builder

Through being a part of the Homeschool Crew I was sent a link to a discount book website – and well, who doesn’t like a good sale?

Homeschool Library Builder is focused on supplying affordable literature – and they are currently clearancing out a LOT of books for $1, $2, $3!! The site carries a variety of new and used, hardcover and softcover titles (sometimes overstocks). Their shipping prices are great too – media mail for a purchase up to $25 is only $4.50.
I’ve been browsing around the site today to add some books to my collection and have found some other great things about the site too:
  • A Frequent Buyer Program: As a site “member” – i.e. providing your email, you receive a monthly newsletter that has sale information, lesson plan ideas and more. You also earn “book points” for each dollar you spend on their site. Fifteen book points = $1 off a future order. AND If you refer friends to the program you can also earn 45 book points!! yeah – you tell ’em I sent you over!!
  • A handy search feature to search for books for books related to a specific curricula: Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, Five in A Row, Tapestry of Grace…very nice!!
  • Ability to search for books by country/geographic region (which I am LOVING!!)
  • Spotlight on the season: ideas and suggestions for the upcoming season that includes crafts, lesson plans and other resources.
  • Fundraising opportunities – 20% of the fundraiser sales for your organization and they take care of all the orders for you!

I’m off to start digging through their bins, because the dollar bins and low shipping are calling to me right now (and yes, I have lots of books, but I have this ! Just wanted to pass along a great deal to you all!

Help Me 2 Teach

Help Me 2 Teach is a website that I was recently given the opportunity to reveiw. HelpMe2Teach.com is subscription-based online search directory for parents, teachers and children and designed for preschool through high school. It was designed by a teacher with 40 years experience to help educators and students find great educational materials.

Here are some of the features:
  • It contains over 2,000 links that are SAFE searches for everyone – no filters needed.
  • Links are arranged by categories and there is also a site search feature
  • Color-coded circles to let you know what age level each link is appropriate for
  • Quarterly newsletters with teaching suggestions and unit study ideas and links
What I liked about the site:

  • Table of contents on the first page give quick “go to” based on subject/area of study
  • Site is safe for kids to search on (no funky ‘google’ links)
  • Each site has a target age (color-coded) so you don’t have to wade through endless links to find what you are looking for
  • Can save time for homeschooling moms
  • The owner is very open to suggestions for the site and has been great to work with when offered ideas. She has already added quite a few areas based on suggestions from reviewers – very encouraging! Elaine is constantly adding new links and materials to her site to make it even better.

What was a little hard for me:

  • Searching by specific words can be picky. For example, I tried to do a search on the word “tigers” and the search yielded no results. When I took the “s” off, I found results. Normally, I wouldn’t have taken the “s” off, so the search engine can be a little choosey at times.
  • There are some areas that are lacking a bit. Since we are doing a geography study and moving onto India this week, I searched on India, Taj Mahal…and other Indian things and there were no results in my search. There are general geography resources, but I was looking for specifics, so my google searching turned up much more. ***Since writing this post, there have been several sites added to the site to cover the areas that I mentioned – Elaine is very willing to work with suggestions and on the needed areas.***
  • The price (to me) seems a little high – however, there is a special running right now through December of 2 years for the price of 1, which does make it much better for me. I can much more easily see spending $29.95 for two years of this site.

Overall, I think that this site has a LOT of potential. My kids aren’t at the age yet where this would be necessary for them to conduct safe searches on the internet, but I can definitely see where that would be a huge benefit to me as a parent.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can visit the HelpMe2Teach website or contact Elaine directly – be sure to mention you want the 2 for 1 special when you ask a question or sign up!

You can also see other reviews

of this site at the Homeschool Crew blog.