Friday, April 29, 2011

Greek 'n' Stuff - TOS

It is well into April, and one of the things I often hear from my homeschooling friends is how they feel like they are running out of time to get everything done that they had wanted to do.  Homeschooling parents want to give their children an excellent education, and sometimes there is just not enough time in the day, let alone the year, to do it all.

Because of this, things get pushed aside.  Math and reading get done, but history, science, and everything else can get shoved aside, especially when you hit a rough patch with one of the big two.  And by the time a parent covers the important stuff with all of their children, it can be so easy to say, I will get to that tomorrow.  But tomorrow doesn't come.

Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek by Greek 'n' Stuff is designed for the overbooked homeschool.  It is an extremely gentle approach to learning a foreign language - in this case, Biblical Greek.

I was provided with the Level Three Worktext, Worktext Answer Key, the pronunciation CD.  I turned the materials over to Dragonette and let her go.

The program is designed for the student to do one page each day along with practicing flash cards that you can buy or that the student makes.  The book starts off with the alphabet, accents and breathing marks and progresses into words, accusative case, present active tense, genitive case, third person, nominative case, sentences, and dative case.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to do this program.  A page a day is an easy way to add language to your homeschool.

Dragonette, 14, was excited to try this program.  She enjoys languages of all type and worked through the book quicker than one page a day.  She mastered the Greek alphabet in 2 days and moved into vocabulary quickly.  She made her own flashcards and hung them at the end of her bed where she could constantly review the cards.

But as a word and language person, she had some struggles with this program.  Accent rules are not covered until level 4, but she felt she needed the rules in level 3 to help her remember why an accent was where it was in each word.  She was also frustrated with how slowly vocabulary was introduced in the book. 

However, this program introduced her to Greek and she is now signed up to take a high school level Greek class in the fall.  It has given her a jump start on her class, as she knows the alphabet and some vocabulary, along with some of the things you expect to find in Greek, like accents and breathing marks.

I would recommend this program if you are looking for an easy, gradual course into Biblical Greek.  It would work well with younger children, for an older child that wants to try out a new alphabet/language before they jump into a fast moving high school course, or any child that likes a gentle, methodical approach to a language.

Greek 'n' Stuff offers 8 levels of Hey Andrew along with 6 levels of Latin's Not so Tough, 2 levels of Greek for those who speak French, and Bible Study materials.

If you are interested in this curriculum, you can visit the Greek 'n' Stuff  webpage and click on the "more info" link for each level.  You can read these descriptions and take quizzes to determine which level might be best for your student to start with.

Prices vary, so I have provided the price list for level 3 to give you an idea of the program's cost. We found the minimum you need is the Student Workbook and an Answer Key. The Pronunciation CD or cassette is helpful and covers 2 levels of the program. 

Greek Level Three Student Workbook ($21.95)  More Info
Greek Level Three "Answers Only" Answer Key ($4.00)  More Info
Greek Level Three "Full Text" Answer Key ($21.95)  More Info
Greek Level Three Quizzes/Exams ($5.50)  More Info
Greek Level Three "Flashcards on a Ring" ($8.00)  More Info
Pronunciation CD for Greek Levels Three and Four ($10.00)  More Info
Pronunciation Cassette Tape for Greek Levels Three and Four ($8.00)  More Info
Greek Level Three "Short" Set ($39.45)  More Info
Greek Level Three "Full" Set ($57.40)  More Info
Bible Copybook - The Gospel of John ($25.95)  More Info
Sheet Music for The Greek Alphabet Song ($2.95)  More Info
Set of five (5) Koiné Greek Alphabet Bookmarks ($6.00)  More Info

Friday, April 22, 2011

See the Light Art Class - TOS

Any subject you do not feel comfortable with is hard to teach.  This is the subject you usually spend money on, especially if it is a core subject, so that not only do your kids get a solid education, but also so your kids can develop their own phobias instead of just picking up yours where you left off.

With that in mind, See the Light has developed a set of 9 DVD's that covers Art for parents who do not feel comfortable teaching this subject.  Hosted by Pat Knepley, a Children's ministry director who is also degreed in art and art instruction, 36 lessons are covered (4 per DVD) and it seems the material covered would equate to a beginning art class.

I was provided with the first DVD, which covers lessons 1-4 with a bonus lesson for a chalk drawing.

Tools of the Trade - This lessons covers what materials you will need throughout the entire program.  The tools range from a #2 pencil and paper, to pastels, a charcoal pencil and a kneaded eraser.  All of these thing are easily found at a craft store.

It All Starts With a Line - You learn how to grip your pencil, how to draw straight vs curved lines and by changing how hard you press changes the darkness of your lines.

Contours and Compositions - How to place you picture on the page is covered along with how different mediums make different lines and effects.

Drawing What You See - This lesson covers drawing a shoe and what you should look and think about as you do it.

Chalk It Easy Chalk Art- You draw a detailed scenery picture in chalk with a hidden glowing part visible with a black light.

My children are 10 and 14 and they were very frustrated with this program.  Both of them found the lessons to be extremely slow, with lots of talking and very little drawing.  And each lesson was tied to a Bible verse or lesson, but Dragonette felt there were forced connections between the art and the Bible lesson. I realize that some programs start out slow and end up fantastic, but since I did not have access to more of the program I do not know if that applies here.  The descriptions of later lessons sound interesting, but if I had to base my decision on whether to buy this program based on the first four lessons, I would not.  From what we have seen, this program would be more appropriate for 3 - 6 year olds if they do not mind sitting and listening instead of doing.

The bonus chalk lesson was very fast paced, but it was very much a "do exactly what I do and don't ask questions" kind of lesson.  While you ended up with a cool picture, you never learned why she did what she did to apply the techniques to other pictures.

You don't have to take my word on what is in the lessons.  The first three are available on the website for you to watch, along with the chalk lesson, or you can request the same DVD that I received

If you find you like the style of these videos, See The Light has a $10 monthly subscription where 4 lessons are unlocked for you to watch each month or in a bundle of DVD's for $99, along with videos that tie into Easter and Christmas and a store with some of the more unusual art supplies you might need.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Write Foundation Lessons 16-30

I was given The Write Foundation's Essay Writing Lesson 1-15 to review for TOS.  The author, Rebecca Celsor, then offered the second half of the curriculum, Lessons 16-30, for use and review.  She completed a major edit of her curriculum and was eager to share the changes.

Just like I did for the first half, I received a set of student worksheets ready to be put into a binder and a spiral bound teacher's manual that has instructions for use, answers for the worksheets, a step-by-step guide for each lesson, and an assignment page that sums up that week's work.

Lesson 16-30 are much more on par with the level of curriculum that Dragonette is ready for.  It includes 5-paragraph essays; how to set up, research, and execute research papers with works cited; and timed essays.

Since the edit, the instructions in the the teacher's manual are more clearly written and the typographical errors are gone.  Some of this may be that I am more familiar with how the program works going into it, as this is a complex program.  But nonetheless, the explanations are much more organized and are arranged to be more pleasing to the eye and therefore much more easily searched and reviewed.  

While this is still a Christian-based program, it no longer hits you over the head in religious rhetoric, and for that I am truly grateful.  The examples in lessons 16-30 are everyday sentences and adding in Biblical references and topics is much more easily adjusted to your personal needs.

I like the way this curriculum takes you step by step through essays and research papers.  This can be a tough topic to teach because it often has to be broken down for a student which can lead to a lot of frustration for the teacher/parent.  Breaking things into small steps is something this curriculum does well.  I was able to use the steps and apply them to the topics Dragonette needed to write about in her literature curriculum.  The two curricula dove-tailed together very nicely.

The timed writing in this program has been valuable, too.  The ACT and SAT tests now have writing components, as do many AP tests.  This is a skill that is often overlooked in many subjects written for homeschoolers.

If the first 15 lessons of this curriculum have been edited to a product similar to the last 15 lessons, this curriculum is now worth a serious look.  If you are teaching a co-op it gives you a good framework for a class.  It can be used at home, but as with most curricula, it moves a bit slowly for us in places.  But we were able to skip thorough things that we needed to easily.

The price has also been adjusted with this curriculum.  It is no longer sold in stores, so the writer was able to adjust the price to a more family friendly amount.

Chose from Sentence, Paragraph, or Essay Level. Three different packages are available from the The Write Foundation for each level:

Curriculum Package 1: Lessons Complete 1-30  $69.95 + tax and/or shipping. 
            Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15
            Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 16 – 30
            Student Worksheets Full Set Lessons 1 – 30
            Essay Additional Resources (download to your computer immediately after purchase) 

Curriculum Package 2: Lessons 1-15   $39.95 +  tax and/or shipping. 
            Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15  
            Student Worksheets Lessons 1 – 15
            Essay Additional Resources (download to your computer immediately after purchase) 

Curriculum Package 3: Lessons 16-30  $39.95 + tax and/or shipping. 
            Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 16 – 30 
            Student Worksheets Lessons 16 – 30  
            Essay Additional Resources (download to your computer immediately after purchase) 

Instruction Manuals Only are available separately for a cost of $29.95 each for Lessons 1-15 or 16-30 + tax and/or shipping.