Review of Anne Elliott’s Foundations Bible Curriculum

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

We used Foundations 1:  Preparation for Christ by Anne Elliott last year.  I chose this one because it starts in the beginning (Genesis) and goes chronologically.  This is simple to use.  You read a bible passage, do bible drills, discuss it, and then move on–exactly what I was looking for.  She also uses Calvary Chapel’s coloring sheets for the little ones.

However, this covers the entire Old Testament so huge chunks are left out in order to squeeze it into one school year.  We often added our own when we wanted to read more. This really needs to be broken into two books.

Ms. Elliott writes two more books that cover the New Testament after this is complete.  You can preview these on her website HERE.  This looks to be a bit more thorough because it is broken into the two years.

For this year, I haven’t decided on Bible Curriculum yet.  We are doing Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Genesis and finishing up Foundations 1 when we have the chance. I’m unsure if we will continue onto this or jump over to Apologia’s What We Believe Series.  I will see how this school year goes first and maybe invest in this in December.

Any One Else Tired of Reading Homeschool Reviews?

This is me….debating.

I know I am….

I just spent the last 3 days ordering my curriculum, which I agonize over every year (future post forthcoming for my selections).  I debate and wonder if it’s a good investment or not.  Repeatedly.

What prompted this posting is my agony over Bible curriculum.  We are doing Bible Study Fellowship’s Genesis but I also like to do a bit more especially since my girls are not too thrilled about this study since they know every story in Genesis (in our church experience the kids’ programs do tend to emphasize the well-known Bible stories a lot).  However, I did tell them BSF was different and I’m sure they will glean much more out of this.

Last year, we did Anne Elliott’s Foundations series (forthcoming review as well).  We didn’t finish it due to BSF.  My criticism here is Book 1, which covers the Old Testament, tried to cram the OT into one year and it skipped around a lot and the girls are like me–chronological please.  The favorite part of this was the Bible Drills.  Well, I can do Bible Drills myself to be honest.

So, I’m looking into Apologia’s What We Believe? series.  It looks fabulous–but it’s pricey for my book ($39 textbook and a student book at $24 (times two since I have two kids), which pushes $100).

Naturally, I scour the Internet for reviews.  And in this instance all I find are glowing reviews from those who received a free copy to review.  Now, I’m sorry, but I have yet to read a negative review from someone who received a free copy (in this instance there is one on Amazon from a gal who received a free copy but she seems to be nit-picking the book–see that thread here–more than criticizing its content).

I reviewed Strong Fundamentals by Susan Wise Bauer on my website and recently received a comment, saying how I must not have implemented the program correctly if I criticized it’s lack of meat and my child must be gifted. (see post HERE).  Well, this is my honest opinion and I’m gonna tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can take it or leave it.

Anyways, back to my dilemma.

Nothing useful was said about Who Am I? (the book in the series I am considering)–only how wonderful it is and how Apologia the company is great.

This is frustrating.  I’d rather not read these type of reviews (waste of my time) and I wish the companies didn’t give out free copies to such individuals.  Something about being free does make one feel obliged to say nice things (after all, it was free and we want more free stuff, right?).

In homeschooling, every penny counts.  The government doesn’t give me thousands of dollars per child like it does the public schools so I have to be prudent (by the way, this is an unabashed request if the Federal Government is reading this!).

Sigh.  Moan.  Groan.

So, here I am.  Left on my best judgment and fervent prayerful guidance.

I’m leaning towards waiting.  Seeing how the study of Genesis goes and finishing last year’s curriculum.  Then I may just invest in the textbook only as my kids do enough journaling and writing in every thing else they do.

Then I’ll do a review.  An honest, no strings attached review.  To do my best to help others find the right fit for them without wasting precious dollars in this economy.

Would you expect anything else from me?

Where is Community?

A while back the pastor in my old church (before we moved a few times ago) proclaimed community is in the schools.  School is where you meet friends, spend a good part of your life, do sports and activities, etc.

At the time, my kids were in school and I disagreed.  Sure, you meet people in school but I don’t believe it’s the center of community.

Yesterday, we went back to our old school for a book fair.  Immediately upon walking in, I didn’t feel any sense of community.  I saw some people we knew and chatted but that was about it.  We bought some books and left.  I didn’t feel any sense of belonging.

Maybe because we don’t belong any more.

Still, I was a bit surprised at the feeling.  I had wanted to go and been looking forward to returning for a while now.  I do have some great memories there as do my kids.  As a homeschooler you always wonder if you are doing the right thing. If your kids shouldn’t be in a traditional school.  If they are missing out on things.  I fear I will always wonder this and feel a tad guilty over the fact.

We drove by our old church which is near the girls’ old school and my middle child asked if we’re ever going to go back there again.

On the drive home I thought about our new church this Sunday.  We haven’t been for a couple of weeks.  My kids have been sick.  I missed both bible studies this week and it was a real bummer.  We have trips planned so will be hit and miss for the next couple of weeks.

A feeling arose, like a longing or a pull, that I didn’t have with the school.  I miss church.  I miss God there (yes, I know. God is everywhere and you don’t have to go to church to experience Him) but as most of us know coming together with believers is what we are called to do and does fulfill a spiritual need within us.  I miss the people.  The community.

I had this argument with my husband after that message that Sunday long ago.  My husband sided with the pastor.  School is the center of community.  I argued it was the church.  It should be the church as it has always been and as I believe God intended.

But, my husband said, so many don’t go to church that schools have taken over.  This fact I could not refute.

So, I guess the center of community is different for different people.  For me, it’s the church.  For others, it might be the school.  Maybe it’s their local neighborhood.  Or a community center.

Where is your community?

Carnival of the Animals

We have been working through The Gift of Music by Jan Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson this year for homeschool when Camille Saint-Saens came up.  I’ve personally never heard of this guy (like quite a few other composers from this book).

We always get a sample of their music from the library and if we’re lucky a biography for kids or two.

Well, during an online search of my local library, I found a gem of a book entitled Carnival of the Animals put together by Barrie Carson Turner, which illustrates this classic tale and has an accompanying CD.

The Carnival of Animals is Saint-Saens most famous work and it was written when his students asked him to compose a musical joke for them.  Saint-Saens matches animals such as the kangaroo, lion, roosters, mules, and tortoises to music beautifully as they parade through a carnival.  The total time of the composition is only 23 minutes with only about 2-4 minutes for each animal, which is perfect listening time for a child.

Many times I get musical compositions from the library and they are long and tedious. Not so here.  With the textbook to explain to children what the composer is trying to accomplish, why the author chose a particular instrument to play a certain part, and pictures to delight this book is sure to introduce children to the wonderful world of classical music and spawn a desire to learn more.

Review of Artistic Pursuits

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

Artistic Pursuits is an art program put together by a homeschooling Mom.  This is a review for Grades K-3 Book.

My kids love art as all children do and I have been well pleased with this book.  It offers lessons that pertain to history so we do those lessons as we discuss those historical areas.  It also offers lessons on different aspects of art such as what artists do or see.  I particularly like the historical background and the paintings covered in this book.  It was definitely unexpected and a welcome addition to my curriculum.

On their website you can order their pre-packaged bundle which comes with all the art supplies you need.  I ordered the supplies from one of their links so I could customize it to what I needed and didn’t need.

Art as most of us know is pricey.  It is for public schools as well.  But the kids love it and it is so good for them to express themselves in different mediums.

There are 5 levels from preschool through high school that focuses on different areas.

Conclusions:  Overall great job on educating the student on art and how it pertains to history.  It covers the basics as well.  I am not interested in perfect form or drawing lessons per se since I doubt my kids well be the next Picasso so this book fit well for our needs.

I am unsure if I will continue with this next year.  I like it but I want to focus more on famous artists and am considering the Core Knowledge area as well.  There are some Medieval Lessons in this book that I will save for next year however.  Highly recommend.

Review of Latin for Children: Primer A

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

We just started this after completing Song School Latin (see review HERE) and we love it!  Written by Dr. Aaron Larsen & Dr. Christopher Perrin for Classical Academic Press whose motto is “Classical Subjects Creatively Taught” this begins the first of many levels through the high school level offered by them.

I invested in their bundled package of the Primer A textbook, activity book, and DVD/CD offerings.

The DVD features kids reciting all the vocabulary as well as the CD.  They expect more from the kids, memorizing 10 Latin vocabulary words per week.  Conjugations are included as well as Endings and Grammar.

The Activity Book is what my kids love best.  Although not in color, the activities are fun and reinforcing for the week.

Their website has tons of support materials including fun videos, supplemental materials, and more vocabulary reinforcement.

In my opinion you cannot have a classical education without the classical languages.   I believe the benefits in teaching the classical languages are much more important than other subjects.

Conclusions:  I cannot help but be impressed with this company.  I have always had quick responses to email questions, no problems ordering online, and the content is top-notch.  I am grateful every day that someone has finally decided to form a company that focuses on the fundaments of 150 years ago in terms of education.  Their values line up with mine perfectly.

They also offer a Spanish program, Bible curriculum, Logic, and much more–things I will consider in the future.

Many companies offer a Latin program (thankfully) so you have a lot to choose from.  I have discovered CAP and I am sticking with them.  Their formula is fun and engaging for my kids and they are learning things I never had the opportunity to learn in school.

Gratefully, God has given me another chance and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Review of Rosetta Stone Latin America

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

I knew before we even started homeschooling I wanted to try Rosetta Stone for my family.  I had heard so much about it and it always gets great reviews.

So I broke down and invested in all 5 years.  It was a lot to cough up ($459 I paid but it appears the price has risen) but it offered a savings over the years and I looked at it as that.

Rosetta Stone is all immersion.  They believe in teaching you like you learned as a baby:  hearing it and mimicking the sounds.  You listen and then choose based off of what you’ve heard.  There is a written portion as you go along and it does appear on the screen.

I like this approach for my kids but I find myself explaining a lot of what they are doing.  I explain the grammar side and I feel as an adult I would be curious to know what I was speaking.

For instance, they do not go over the endings.  This annoys me because I would like my kids to know.  But Rosetta Stone emphasizes learning to speak, not how the language is put together.  I’m hoping this comes into play in the upper levels.

But my kids are young.  I want them to hear the language correctly (since I have a horrible accent) and learn that way.  There will be time in the later years when they are ready.

I bought the homeschool edition which comes with extra practice worksheets and a guide for parents.  It also tracks your child’s progress so you can review their scores at the end of each lesson.  You can set up different users that saves where you have stopped individually.  This is great if you have kids working at different levels.  You also don’t have to remember where you stopped!

The worksheets provided I have to do with my kids.  They are too young to do them on their own.  But great practice seeing Spanish written.

Each chapter reviews the previous chapter’s work.

Conclusions:  I think this is a great investment for the younger years.  This allows my kids to focus on English and Latin Grammar before we switch to Spanish Grammar.  With Spanish being so prevalent I believe teaching this is essential and the younger years is the place to begin while they are still absorbing everything.

My husband wants to use this for his work and I see us using this program for years to come.  A lot of money but worth it if you are seeking the spoken word.  They also offer a Latin and Greek program but I am hesitant to invest as it’s emphasis is on speaking and the value in Latin and Greek is on grammar and vocabulary work.