History is one of those subjects that has the potential to be engaging and exciting, but is often taught in a manner that is dry and boring. I know that when I was in school, it was one of my least favorite subjects. Actually, I think it was my least favorite subject.. But with homeschooling, I have learned that history is full of interesting facts and have come to really like it. But finding a curriculum or supplement that brings excitement into the format, can be a challenge.

Knowledge Quest offers a change to that "same old" style of learning. We have been blessed to review their products not once, but twice. Back in the summer of 2012, we reviewed their TimeMaps computer program and loved it, and this year we received for review their Timeline Builder for iPad APP. 

First a little bit about who Knowledge Quest (KQ) is. KQ was started in 2001 by Todd & Terri Johnson. They are a homeschooling family that set out to develop black and white maps to help supplement lessons on American and World history. Over the years, they've expanded their products to include wall timelines, hardcover timelines, and historical biographies which included geography. In 2011 they took their products to a whole new level and created mobile apps of the iphone and iPad. You can read more about the Johnson family and Knowledge Quest here.

Our original review of, TimeMaps, introduced us to KQ's exceptional products. The goal of TimeMaps "is to communicate history in a truly engaging way", by merging historical timelines, maps, and information into one resource. 
Picture

Now with KQ TimelineBuilder for the iPad, we have their wonderful software in a portable platform. 

Timelinebuilder is not exactly like TimeMaps, as you and your student build the information yourself. 

TimelineBuilder has fully customizable timelines for any subject.

As KQ put it, "TimelineBuilder is THE timeline resource tool that will organize and display chronological events the way YOU want to see them" (KQ).

So How Does It Work?

With the TimelineBuilder, you can choose from a "sample" timeline or customize your own, choosing your own dates, title, subject, pictures, and description. There is a direct link to wikipedia that automatically pulls up a relevant search based on the event name you put in. You have the option of using that info or searching for something different. You also have the choice of which pictures you want to use for each event. Photos can come from an outside source (ex. wikipedia) or your own photo files.

The following photo shows an enlarged image of the bottom of the Apps main screen (seen in the image above).

To begin, you would select "About this App" which gives you a great introduction on how to use it. After viewing this, you then will choose either "New Timeline" or "Sample Timeline". Whichever tab you select, the following screen (image on the left) will come up and you there will create the "Timeline Name". Once you've selected that you can dates, description and select a background, then click the "done" button, which will come up when you start typing. If you've chosen a sample timeline, one will automatically be generated based on your timeline name. A "New Timeline" will generate a blank template where you can add your own events. Whichever timeline you started with, you will have the option of adding a "new event". The image below, on the right, is a screen shot what pops up. Here you add an Event Name and/or dates. You can add images and search Wikipedia, too. The event then will show on your timeline.
We created a few timelines using the Sample option and the New option. 
Picture
This timeline was started as a sample and we added in "The history of paper" and "Be Thou My Vision". Once the date is added, the program automatically places it on the timeline in chronological order. We chose images from Wikipedia for our added events. We were also able to adjust the sizes of the images simply by dragging it. Each of the events can also be moved around to fit the screen or to adjust to your preference. 

In the image, you can see that "Be Thou My Vision" is highlighted in red. I had chosen it to modify. At the top of the screen shot, you can see 3 tabs that allow you to either edit, delete, or "snap to vertical", which will return you to your main timeline.

Picture
In this timeline, my daughter (17yo) was practicing. You can see "practice timeline" on the left hand side of the screen. When she created the timeline, she added this in the description. She was able to choose her background and used images from our own photo files for each event. 

She had fun matching images to her selected dates. 

Picture
We used this timeline to build our family tree. I used just the "start date" and added the full birthdate and date of death (for my dad) in the description. The description is seen by clicking the image.

I've been playing around with this using different photos and adding my husband's family info, too. It's an interesting way to create a family tree : ^ )

Another option that KQ TimelineBuilder for iPad has is to "Share" the timeline. You can share either by sending an email using the events alone or the entire timeline. You can save the events and/or timeline as photos, and even save the file to share via iTunes.

Below are shots from my email after sharing my daughter's timeline. The first photo is a share of the timeline, which includes a photo of the main timeline and a listing of the events. The smaller image (to the right) is a share of the events only. The photos of each event is included along with the description of the events. We though this feature was pretty cool. 

How To Purchase: You can purchase the KQ TimelineBuilder for iPad for $6.99. That is an excellent price for this great App. You will have tons of history right at your fingertips.

TimelineBuilder is for ages 10 and up, but I believe that children of all ages could have benefits from using it.

What We Thought: We enjoyed being able to review this App. We had fun creating different timelines and played around with all the different features. Since we are studying Medieval ages right now, we did try to create a few within this time period. I like the fact that we had instant access to Wikipedia to come up with the descriptions and photos, too.

There were a couple of things we didn't like. First, with the sample timeline, all the event descriptions that are created by the program itself are in Latin. Though we studied Latin some, we couldn't really figure out what was being said. We could go in and edit the descriptions, but it would've been nice to have it in English from the start. There may be a way to do it automatically, but we weren't able to figure that out yet. 

The other thing is when you are creating an event, if you touch outside of the popup, it takes you back to the main timeline and your info is deleted if it wasn't completed. This became frustrating for my daughter because she wasn't used to using the iPad and kept touching the wrong spots.

Overall though, we loved this App and plan on using it with our history lessons. I believe you will like it, too.
 
 
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;"

Psalm 46:10-11

 
 
We love science! There are so many interesting things to learn about, and see, and do. We believe that God created all things and that He gives us the wisdom to explore & learn what He wants us to. For centuries, those explorations have led scientists to incredible discoveries. Today, we can learn about all of these through various sources.

But what's the best way to learn it? There are innumerable science programs available in the forms of textbooks, modules, videos, unit studies, lapbooks, and online. Determining which is best really depends on your family. But one company that we've recently been introduced to has definitely caught our attention. Supercharged Science is a company that offers a physical science curriculum and their awesome Supercharged Science eScience Online Learning Program. This is an online program that offers a complete science education, including experiments, to K-12 students and educators. We were able to review the eScience program with the extended high school level as members of the SRC.

Supercharged Science was started by Al & Aurora Lipper several years ago. Aurora has an extensive education and career experience. She has a Bachelor's and Master's in Mechanical Engineering Cal Poly State. Her thesis was in flow patterns of F-15 engines (with a 4.0 and "Graduation with Distinction"). She taught at Cal Poly, has worked at NASA, and then created Supercharge Science to help children learn science and have fun doing it.  
Picture
So What is the eScience Program?

Supercharged eScience (SCS) is a complete science curriculum that can be used independent of other curriculum or in conjunction with, depending on your own preference. They even offer a "conversion chart" to help direct you to which lessons coincide with a particular curriculum from another company. SCS "meets or exceeds" state and national standards. Each of the lessons includes exercises and quizzes, as well. 

SCS does not teach evolution or creation. This sets eScience apart from most curriculum that I've seen. Though we are creationists and use a creation based science program, it's refreshing to be able to use an online source and not have to worry about what "facts" my kids are learning that are irrelevant or unnecessary to the topic, like many secular sources have. 

SCS is a step-by-step program that guides your student through each lesson and every experiment. Aurora is an interactive and vibrant educator that will engage your student's desire to learn science. She is the sole instructor in each video and absolutely brings science to a hands on level, even astrophysics and thermodynamics!

SCS is self-guided. Even though the lessons are titled Unit 1, 2, 3... they can be done in any order of preference. And each unit can take as long, or as quickly, as you and your student decide. With the conversion chart, Aurora has made it very user friendly. And each of the lessons has experiments listed for young students as well as high school students. The units are categorized by topic and grade level (SCS FAQ's).

SCS is accessible on or offline. Aurora has also made all of the lessons plans printable, too. You can download the complete lesson as a PDF file and/or view them online. The videos are included within the online lesson. There is even a complete "shopping list" to ensure you have all the necessary lab equipment/supplies for each of the units far in advance of when you are ready.

SCS is parent friendly. If you have any questions while using Supercharged Science' eScience program, you can simply call or email a customer rep directly. Aurora is even available on Wednesday afternoons (as of this posting) and you can call her directly with any questions of the lessons or experiments. That, to me, is amazing!!! There is a full list of FAQ's and a special Parent Resources page that offers info like: what should my child know about science, common mistakes made when teaching science, 6 keys to teaching science, keeping a scientific journal, and so much more.

SCS offers a Getting Started page. This page will help you and your student learn the basics on using Supercharged Sciences' eScience program. It lists how to get started and how to get the most out of the program. This is a great place to start, for sure. There is a video that you can watch, too, with Aurora talking about the program. Check it out for a quick sample view.

How To Purchase Supercharged Science eScience Online Learning Program:

Picture
The eScience program has 2 different levels. The K-8 level is $37 per month and the K-12 level is $57 per month. The expanded K-12 program includes the High School levels which are wonderfully designed with higher level experiments. 

Picture
What We Thought: I have to admit, when we first began to use the eScience program, we were not fascinated. We had a difficult time navigating the site, which was frustrating. And it seemed like some of the experiments didn't give us the list of supplies needed. 

This was before we viewed the getting started page and watched the video. We jumped the gun a little on that. Once we figured it all out (read the instructions, lol), we loved it. My 7th grader is completing General Science through Apologia and all of the lessons fit smoothly with it. My 12th grader is using Apologia's Physics curriculum and enjoyed Supercharged Science very much.

We pretty much jumped around to whatever we chose to do most of the time, but it was really nice to be able to look up specific lessons depending on the topic we were learning that week. I also like that we could go at our own pace. This allowed us to do as we pleased, which is important to us. 

The experiments, for the most part, were very user friendly, too, except the Chemistry ones. These required a chem kit, which we didn't have. But we were able to watch the videos and still learn. Most of the experiments used around the house supplies or easily accessible ones, with links to sites we could get them from. This, again, was nice.

I do believe we will continue to use this program throughout the rest of the year and into next. It has many positive aspects. I think you will really enjoy it, too. You can try it out for 30 days to see. 

For other great reviews, click the link below.

 
 
Do you like reading old books? We do. We enjoy the use of the language and reading about the culture of those times, but the primary reasons we like older books are the fundamental beliefs that God reigns, morality exists, and right and wrong is black and white. But often we're not sure what the books are about or which ones really are family friendly and wholesome. Some of these books we've not even heard of because they haven't been available for several years. 

Daniel Mills wanted to change this. He founded Salem Ridge Press in 2005 specifically to republish books that are wholesome, teach godly character, have a high moral value, and "fit the qualifications of the Bible" (SRP). Salem Ridge Press' philosophy comes straight from Philippians:
There is a rigorous process that each book must endure before it is chosen by Salem Ridge Press (SRP) to be republished. We have had the pleasure of reviewing one of those wonderful books, Elfreda The Saxon: Or, The Orphan of Jerusalem. This is the sequel to Leofwine the Monk by Emma Leslie
Picture
Elfreda The Saxon was originally published in 1875, is 265 pages long and is geared for readers age 12 and up.

It takes place in Medieval years of 1189-1215 A.D. and is in Emma Leslie's Church History series.

Elfreda is a young Saxon orphan that must go to live with her aunt, Lady de Valery, in England. Lady de Valery was not pleased with the situation and ultimately sent Elfreda to London. It was during the Muslim capture of Jerusalem, King Richard I's reign, and The Crusades.

The underlying story, and the connection to Leofwine, is that there was a family curse placed on him 100 years ago and it seems that it still follows Elfreda. She and her cousin, Guy, meet when she arrives in England, and they endeavor to free the family from the curse. Guy had joined King Richard's Crusade and believed he could bring honor to the family and break the curse. Elfreda believed she could break it by living a devout life. But there was only One that could set the family free from the bondage of this curse

The events we read about in Elfreda the Saxon, were true to the historical accounts documented on the history of the church.. The persecution of the Jewish people was painfully accurate. Not that the book depictions were horrifically graphic, but it was the fact that it happened at all that had an impact.

Salem Ridge Press chose a remarkable book to republish in Elfreda the Saxon. It's an excellent book that teaches about accepting The Lord as Savior and trusting Him, all while bringing church history lessons to a very personal level. You can read a sample of the first chapter here. But I warn you, you're going to want to finish it : ^ )

A couple things about Salem Ridge Press' books: Because the books were originally published between the 1800's-1900's, some of the words are no longer used today. SRP wisely added these words and their definitions as footnotes on the first page they are seen. SRP also has added historical notes in each of the books which helps the reader gain an insight to the time period before reading the book. They also have included a write-up on the author, which is nice. SRP has not just republished old books, they've brought outstanding books back to life.

How To Purchase: Salem Ridge has republished many great books (I was able to review a few others back in 2008) that all can be purchased directly from them. Elfreda the Saxon is available for $14.95 (softcover) or $24.95 (hardcover).

What We Thought: As you can tell from my review, I am impressed with Salem Ridge Press' books, Elfreda the Saxon was no exception. While reading, I was easily absorbed in the story. I loved that I was given the short history lessons at the beginning so that I knew more about the time. It allowed me to understand more of what Elfreda was really going through. 

I had my daughter write her own opinion, which follows:
"I like the formatting of the book, for example., the font and setup. The historical facts and word meanings are nice. I would have liked to see a glossary of the words though, instead of having to search through the book to find where the definition was printed. Especially when I couldn't remember them later in the book.  I think that this was a good book to reprint, I do not think I would have even heard of it otherwise. I am glad I was able to read it :)"

I am sure we would not have heard about Elfreda the Saxon if SRP had not republished it. I am thankful for the dedication they have given to these "old books".
 
 
 
 
My husband and I grew up in the 70's & 80's. We didn't have a computer, except in high school (and maybe a little in junior high), and it wasn't anything like it is today. There were no colors or great graphics, that I can remember, at the beginning. It was MS/DOS or something : ^ ) I used the computer in math and at the library. At home, we did things like play outdoors, ride bikes, play Atari, and basic other kid stuff (at least I did, not sure about my husband, lol). I didn't know much at all about the language of a computer.
Picture
But the world of technology has changed a lot since then & Computer Science for Kids wants to help students learn the basics about computer programming so that they are better prepared for an ever advancing technological world. They offer products that will help your kids learn how to create applications and games using Microsoft Small Basic.

Computer Science for Kids (CSK) offers 2 programs to do this: Beginning Microsoft Small Basic and Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic. They are essentially the same programs up to chapter 10. After that, Computer Bible Games adds 3 additional chapters that allows the student to program & play Christian based games instead of Secular games, as the Beginning Microsoft Small does. As members of the SRC, we were given Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic for review. 

Picture
This program is geared for middle school students (10 & up) and is designed to help them understand Microsoft Small Basic "while developing "fun and simple" learning games and Computer Bible Games" (CSK). 

So what is Microsoft Small Basic? It is a programming environment to help prepare kids for future work with "more complex programming languages like Visual Basic, Visual C# and Java" (CSK).

Computer Bible Games is an interactive, self-paced, program that is very easy to follow. Your student will learn: program design, text window applications, graphics window applications and other elements of the Small Basic language. Throughout the 13 chapter course, your student will learn a great number of things about programming. The following is a list of the chapters (you can click Table of Contents to view the chapters in depth and Sample Lesson to view chapter 4).

1. Introducing Small Basic
2. Small Basic Program Basics
3. Your First Small Basic Program
4. Small Basic Program Design, Input Methods
5. Debugging, Decisions, Random Numbers
6. Small Basic Looping, Subroutines
7. More Small Basic Looping, Arrays
8. Small Basic Graphics, Mouse Methods
9. Timers, Animation, Keyboard Methods
10. Noah’s Ark Project
11. Daniel and the Lions Project
12. Elijah and the Ravens Project
13. Additional COMPUTER BIBLE GAMES & Learning Games Projects

Your child will learn how to program and play: Noah's Ark, Daniel and the Lions, Elijah and the Ravens, The Good Shepherd, The Prodigal Son, The Lost Coin, and Bible Scramble

Computer Bible Games offers numerous examples in the over 400 pages of course notes teaching the student to use Microsoft Small Basic to successfully create programs while having fun. Each chapter builds upon and reviews the previous lessons.

In lesson 4, we created a savings calculator that simply asked for basic input and then calculated the total amount saved including percentage rate. It was simple, but fun : ^ ) Below is a screen shot. . .
The only thing that we found disappointing was that these games are not discussed until the later chapters. But this is because it's important to learn the basic steps before moving on to the next level. Jumping from A to D without B & C will cause you to miss essential lessons that are vital to your program working correctly. So we have been patiently working 
through the lessons, building our knowledge base up in preparation for more fun to come.

How To Purchase: Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic can be purchased as a physical book or a digital e-book. The E-book is really a set of files that download and are opened individually as a Word document. We received the single user e-book version for review. The Single User License Digital E-book is normally available for $59.95, but now through 7/4/13 can be purchased at the sale price of $34.95. That's a good price for basically a one semester program.

What We Thought: We have enjoyed using Computer Bible Games for the last few weeks. So far I've learned some new things, and am realizing that I already knew a few of the basic lessons. My kids are enjoying learning about programming and are looking forward to completing the whole course.
Picture
Since we have only had this program for only a few weeks and each chapter takes approx. 3-6hrs. to complete (over the course of a week), we have not completed all 13 chapters. But we are eagerly anticipating learning how to create, & play, the actual Bible games in lessons 11-13. The screen shot to the left is from the game Elijah and the Ravens taught in chapter 12. 

We worked together on each lesson and spent the necessary time needed for all of us to fully grasp the concept. The language of programming can take a little bit of time to get used to. My daughter (17) caught on pretty quick and wanted to zoom through the lessons, but my son (12) needed some extra time to understand. She has seen some programming before, but he never had. He is, however, anxious to get to the games. He loves playing computer games and the fact that we will be creating them ourselves (with clear guidance from the lesson, of course) is fascinating to him. I think that once all of this truly "clicks" for him, he will be asking to continue on to the next level of programming. And then. . ."boldly go where no man. . ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself  : ^ )  All of this computer talk reminded me of the advanced technology of the sci-fi show of my day, lol. 

But really, learning to navigate through Microsoft Small Basic with Computer Science for Kids can start an exciting journey into the world of computer programming for my son and yours. We've had a lot of fun so far and know that there's more to come. 

Check out Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic for yourself and see what you think. For more reviews on this program and Beginning Microsoft Small Basic, click the banner below.

 
 
Math U See is the math curriculum we have used for several years. Why? Because it works for us. The primary levels include manipulatives that are helpful in understanding the concepts of the lessons. My kids have enjoyed using the blocks, not only for doing their math lessons, but also building things : ^ )

As members of the SRC, we have been privileged to review Math U See's Calculus level. We had previously worked through Trig with my daughter (17yo), followed by their Stewardship level but had not completed Calculus up to this point. We were excited to receive Calculus for review and are just as delighted with this product as we have been with MUS's other levels that we have used.

Math U See was founded by Steve Demme in 1995. Mr. Demme was a math teacher in the public and private sectors, but in 1989 was approached to teach math to a homeschool co-op. From there, he developed materials to sell, then videos and manipulatives, until MUS was incorporated. Since then, MUS has continued to grow and their curriculum can be found at many conferences and conventions. You can read more about the history of MUS here.

MUS has curriculum from the Primer level (beginning) through Calculus, including a Stewardship level, which is a Biblical approach to personal finances. There are no set ages or grades assigned with each level, but MUS does offer a placement test to help you determine where your child should start. There are several FAQ's that can answer questions you might have about which level to start with, as well. 
Calculus typically would be completed after the student has learned Geometry, Algebra 1, 2, and PreCalc including Trig. It is often the math that is taken in the senior year of high school for advanced students.

MUS's Calculus level is a full year, complete course. As you can see the from the scope & sequence (below), it covers everything that would be expected from a great Calculus program.
What's Different About Math U See? MUS not only teaches the concepts of solving a problem, but why it's solved that way, and where/when to apply the specific concept. MUS encourages all students to master each concept before moving on to the next. It is designed to ultimately have the student understand the concept enough that he/she can "teach it back". 

"Math-U-See is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, practicing, mastering and reviewing concepts. This gives the parent clear understanding of when to move the student to the next lesson."(MUS)

Their Calculus program is no exception. As with all of the other levels, the full set consists of the instruction manual, DVD, student manual, and tests. The instruction manual contains "lesson-by-lesson instructions and detailed solutions" and the student manual contains the lesson-by-lesson worksheets. The DVD is comprised of videos for each lesson of Mr. Demme at a whiteboard teaching the lesson step by step. He breaks it down to the simplest form and builds the lesson in an understandable, manageable way. In the earlier levels of MUS, the videos are intended for the teacher, who then instructs the students. At the Calculus level, the student and teacher can watch together, or the student can be independent and watch alone. A sample of the video can be seen on MUS's calculus page.

The textbook has the same lessons that Mr. Demme teaches on the video, but without the personalization that he offers in the video : ^ ) Using the textbook along with the video allows the student to listen and watch as they are following along. Mr. Demme explains each step of the equation/process, which is wonderful for anyone who isn't sure how to get from step A to step B. The student lesson pages have questions applicable to the lessons and the answer guide in the instruction manual breaks down each problem and doesn't just give the answer. Another great aspect about MUS is that if you have any problem with any concept or question, "lesson support" is available by phone, chat, or email. Though we did not use this option, it is incredible to have that access to someone that can help.

The student text has 4 sets of lesson practice pages for each lesson with multiple questions per page. Each question has space to perform the problem on the page, instead of being cluttered with other problems. You can see a sample lesson on MUS's calculus page. It will download as a PDF file and includes the lesson from the instruction manual as well as the lesson practice pages from the student text.
Picture
How To Purchase: The Calculus curriculum can easily be purchased through Math U See. The Instruction Manual and DVD set is $92 & Student Text and Test Booklet are $32.

It is ideal for the student to have both sets to complete this comprehensive course. Calculus is a difficult subject, but Mr. Demme, through the video and the instruction manual, make it much easier to learn than I remember when I took it in school.

What We Thought: Since we have been using Math U See for several years, I did have a preconceived opinion of what their Calculus level would be. I can say: they did not disappoint : ^ ) 

I liked this level as much as I expected to. In the last couple of years, MUS has changed the presentation of the texts by moving from a soft cover instruction manual to a hard cover. I like this style much more. It is more durable than before. The student text and test booklet each have 3 hole punches so they can easily fit into a 3 ring binder. I like this, too. The pages of the student text are consumable, but if you choose to not have your student write on the pages, the questions can easily be transferred to a sheet of paper. I had my daughter do this, but with a few of the other levels we've had, I had them tear out the page (along the perforated edge) and put with a blank sheet of paper in a binder so that there was plenty of writing space. Since both of my kids are like me and like to doodle, I would rather have them doodle on a blank page instead of the actual question page.

One of things I liked the most about MUS's Calculus was that the first few lessons are review from the previous levels. This helped my daughter a lot since she completed Trig two years ago. We did have to work a little slower through it to make sure she understood each of the concepts. She is not a huge fan of upper level math, but does well once the concept is grasped. Usually with the products we are reviewing, we try to do a few of the lessons at various stages of the curriculum, with Calculus, or math in general, it's not really feasible. It is very important to understand each concept before moving on, or your student will be lost. Math U See doesn't dictate at what pace each student should move along in their programs. It is actually encouraged to stay in place until the student has mastered it, whether it's days or a couple of weeks. If additional practice questions are needed, the lesson tests could be used. Otherwise, they should be used as a tool to determine if the student understands well enough to move on. For the most part, we completed a lesson per week, with the exception of a couple of the review lessons that only took a couple of days to complete. Being able to set her own pace is extremely beneficial for my daughter, since math frustrates her when she thinks she's not "getting it". But once she's got it down, she wants to move on and not dwell on it.

Another aspect I like about MUS is that it doesn't have a lot of filler. The lesson questions do not drag on forever with hours of repetitive questions. If your student needs it, they can have it, but if they understand the lesson, they can move on to the next. That is important to us.

We really do like Math U See and I believe you will, too. Even if you haven't taken Calculus yourself or are not math friendly, I know that if your student is ready to take Calculus, MUS's program will work for him.
 
 
Classical Academic Press (CAP) is a wonderful company that offers products on subjects like languages, Bible, poetry, art, and logic. They produce "superlative educational materials to advance the revival of classical education" (CAP). If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you may have seen my reviews on their products Latin Alive, God's Great Covenant, and The Art of Argument. Each of these are fine examples of the products that Classical Academic Press offers.

We've, once again, been blessed to review another great product offered by CAP, The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic. We received both, the student text and the The Discovery of Deduction: Teacher's Edition. This curriculum is geared for students in 8th grade or higher. It may seem like formal logic would be a difficult subject for students as young as 12 or 13 to learn, but Classical Academic Press has creatively designed The Discovery of Deduction to explain it and make it "accessible and relevant" to them. This curriculum emphasizes "the practical and real-world application of soundly structured, deductive logic" (CAP).
The Discovery of Deduction (TDOD) should follow a study of informal logic, like CAP's The Art of Argument, but can be a stand alone curriculum if you choose.

So what is Formal Logic? Let's start with the definition of logic first. It is the "art and science of reasoning," according to TDOD, and it can be divided into two sections, formal & informal..


Informal logic (inductive) deals mostly with generalizations that can be debated and the content of the argument. It is not typically an absolute but could be considered "shades of grey".
Formal logic (deductive) "looks at reasoning in the abstract". It focuses on the form of the argument and isn't so concerned with the content of it. The argument would either be valid or invalid (absolute values).

There is, obviously, much more to logic than the brief descriptions I gave above. To me, logic is a fascinating subject and I enjoy teaching it. Classical Academic Press' The Discover of Deduction really breaks formal logic down into simpler terms and makes it fun.


Why should your student learn about formal logic? I could give you many reasons why logic is important, but CAP said it best in TDOD with "one of it's greatest personal benefits is the ability it gives you to examine and clarify your own personal thoughts, or your own mental acts." (pg. 33) Though understanding logic may not seem to be essential in life, it's rewarding on a personal level, and can ultimately become fundamentally vital to our children.

So how, exactly, does The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic teach formal logic? It starts out with an introduction and compares and contrasts it to informal logic. The student will also learn a little history on logic. Then jumps into lessons. Each lesson, beginning with lesson 1, offers objectives in the beginning, then discussion, review, questions, "deduction in action", and "Socratic dialogue". The "Deduction in Action" sections offer either an historical piece, or a suggested activity that encourages deeper exploration into the topic. For example, in lesson 1, the text encourages the student to download Socrates' "Apology" and gives the needed website. Then there are questions to answer. Throughout the text, the "Deduction in Action" are interesting and fun. We enjoyed taking that step to learn more. It does actually enhance the understanding of the lesson. 

The Teacher's Edition offers the entire student text, as well as answers, teaching tips, and sample essays, dialogues, and arguments. It was really nice to have the answers, especially to the "Deduction in Action" sections. These are an important aspect to the lesson, in my opinion, and I certainly do not know all of the answers. It was great having the suggested responses/answers to refer to. But most of all, having the entire student text was wonderful. I knew exactly what they were reading and could follow along or correct on the spot.

You can download a sample chapter of the book, including the table of contents here. And a sample chapter of the teacher's edition here

The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic also includes a glossary in the back as well as 2 very interesting articles, "Analyzing Arguments Inductively" & " Handling Religious, Moral, and Ethical Disputes". Both of the articles really create deep thought in the reader, in my opinion. My kids and I had interesting discussions after reading them. It was a great way to introduce (or expand our discussions of) certain topics relevant to today's world. 

How To PurchaseThe Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic is available for $26.95 and The Discovery of Deduction: Teacher's Edition is available for $29.95.
What We Thought: Again, we loved this curriculum. CAP has offered terrific products and have not disappointed us with this one. We worked together on it, at least twice a week We were able to expand our knowledge of formal logic well. We have been in speech and debate for several years and have learned informal logic because of it. It was really nice to explore formal logic for a change. I do believe I will be using this for our club next season. It's a good contrast to informal logic, and just as vitally important.

The discussions that we had each week with the lessons were great. We enjoyed the Socratic dialogue, too. It was interesting to see Socrates in action, explaining formal logic in a way that made sense. 

My daughter (17) believes that this curriculum would be best in a class or club format. She didn't necessarily like having to do it with just her brother (12) and me. She likes deep discussion and, though we could get to that point sometimes, other times we had limited time. But it's nice to bring the topic back up while we're driving. We usually drive for at least 30 min. when going somewhere, which offers a lot of time for thoughtful discussions.

I am confident you will like The Discovery of Deduction, and that your student (and you) will learn a great deal from it. Try it out but downloading the sample chapter and see. 
 
 
An old Cherokee told his grandson,
“My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us all. 



One is evil.

It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, dishonesty and selfishness.


The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, compassion & truth.”



The boy gave this some thought and eventually asked, “Which one wins?"


The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

Author Unknown
 
 
Teaching writing and grammar can be both challenging and exciting. As our children are learning the basics of grammar, there is often frustration while they try to link it all together. But once they've reached the point where they can put their thoughts together and write on paper what their ideas are, there is an exciting new world they've entered that they can share with others.

Essentials in Writing offers a complete language arts program for grades 1 through 12. Each grade offers lessons appropriate for that level: from sentence formation to writing a research paper. Each course comes as a DVD set and includes PDF printable worksheets and answer sheets. There is also an included instructional guide for you to help get started. 

Essentials in Writing was created by Matthew Stephens. He is also the instructor in the videos. He earned an Elementary Education degree and is certified in Elementary education and Middle & High school English. His goal with Essentials in Writing "is to help produce confident writers who enjoy the study of language". By achieving this goal, students will learn "the concepts that are critical to effective written communication".

As members of the SRC, we received the 8th Grade Essentials in Writing curriculum. It is recommended for students ages 13-14.
Picture
This 4 DVD course includes:
* 64 Video Lessons *
* 157 pages of worksheets & answers *
* 15 optional grammar review video lessons *

The 8th grade curriculum topics include:
* Sentence Development *
* Writing Techniques *
* Paragraph Development *
* Compositions *
* Narrative *
* Compare & Contrast *
* Formal Essay *
* Persuasive Essay *
* Choosing/Narrowing a topic *
* Expository Essay *
* Research Paper *
for additional syllabus

So How Does It Work? With the 8th grade course, you have the option of having your student review grammar with the "intense grammar review". It is on the same CD/DVD as the PDF worksheets. It is not required for the course and does not have worksheets to complement the lessons, but is a nice review for students that might need it. Topics like subjects & predicates, nouns/possessive nouns, subject/verb agreements, adjectives & adverbs, capitalization, & punctuation are all covered in the 15 supplemental lessons.

Mr. Stephens recommends reviewing these at the beginning of the course if necessary and then referring back to them should your student not be familiar with a topic during the course of the year.

Once you have made the decision about the grammar lessons, you and your student will move on to the actual lessons. Mr. Stephens suggests reviewing the worksheets first, then watching the lesson (you can view a sample lesson below), complete the worksheet, and finish with a quick look ahead at the next lesson. There is no set time that is required for each lesson, it is dependent on your student's understanding of the subject. 

One of the great ideas that are in place with this program is that the worksheets correlate with the video lesson by number and letter; for example, 3A & 3B worksheets are to be used with video lesson 3. It's a good way to keep track of the lessons. The video clips are short, maybe 5-10minutes long. Mr. Stephens uses a white board to demonstrate the lesson. Each lesson spins off of the previous one so the student is learning in progression. While learning writing, the lessons encourage reviewing your work and ensuring your complete thoughts are expressed. If they are not, then the piece is modified. Mr. Stephens stresses the importance of writing what you're thinking so that your reader can enjoy it the way you intended.

How To Purchase: Each grade level can be purchased for $40, which includes all of the video lessons, worksheets, answer sheets, and instruction guide. This is an incredible price for a full year language arts curriculum. You can also purchase a pre-printed workbook for $20 if you prefer not to print out the worksheets. Essentials in Writing is upgrading their program to digital and will be offering their PDF files via a digital route instead of on the CD's. Not all grades are upgraded yet, as of this review date. If you have any questions prior to purchasing, they have a contact us tab on their site.

What We Thought: I have to admit, I wasn't totally sure about the reaction I would receive when we started this. My son (7th grade) was a struggling reader, and now is sort of a "struggling doer". He's not fond of schoolwork, most of the time. My daughter (12 grade), on the other hand, loves school. So I chose to use this course together with the both of them, to see how it would go. With him a year behind the level, and her several years ahead, I thought it might just work. 

I did start with reviewing the optional grammar lessons. Since my son had struggled for so long with reading, many other aspects of language arts fell to the wayside as we pushed forward with reading. I really liked the lessons that Mr. Stephens added. The first review lesson, subject/predicate, is a basic sentence structure lesson, but it's a very important one. Knowing how and why the two go together is essential to moving to the next step. Actually, all of the grammar review lessons are basic lessons, but are so important to have a grasp of prior to moving on to the lessons in the curriculum. I was impressed with how much my son actually did remember about basic grammar. He didn't necessarily remember the titles, but while going over it together, he would be able to remember the concept quickly. The last review was on capitalization rules. This was definitely a lesson my son needed to review. We have gone over this many times before, but it seems like he was able to understand it a little better after watching Mr. Stephens explain it.

Since I usually add in photos to my posts to break up all the print, I'll add a sample video here of one of the lessons by Mr. Stephens. My review continues below the video.
For the curriculum itself, as I said above, we worked together doing it. We set aside time each morning to complete at least on lesson. One of the first things my daughter said was, "why didn't we have this when I was learning these[lessons]. I wouldn't have had to review so much for the SAT". Mr. Stephens seems to be able to take each lesson and explain it in simpler terms, like taking a math equation and simplifying it before completing it. My son wasn't too keen on it at first, but then realized it wasn't so bad. I printed out the worksheets and after the lesson would have him try to complete as much as he could. I think he surprised himself, even, that he could do it. 

For this review, we moved a little faster through the lessons to get the full feel of the program. It was important, though, to ensure that my son understood the lessons prior to the next one we chose. We quickly moved through the first few lessons of sentence development. The biggest issue was expanding the sentences to become a complex sentence. 

While going through this program, I was reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie when all the students needed to write an essay about someone they admired. Laura was young, but chose to write about her mother. She couldn't write all of the words she wanted and couldn't form the essay the way she had it in her head. She spoke one "essay" while another, much simpler version, was on the sheet. There's more to that story but it made me realize the importance of Mr. Stephens' goal. Encouraging children to be able to communicate what they're thinking through their written words is inspiring. 

Going back to our experience. As we moved on to higher lessons, we came to lesson 11A: Using imagery in writing. It discusses using "vivid language" to bring your words to life. The worksheet references Mark Twain's "Don't tell me the old lady screamed. Drag her in here and let her scream!". It sounds funny but makes a ton of sense. Don't just say it, show it. I remember teaching this to my daughter a few years ago. It was difficult for her to get at first. With this lesson, my son finally was able to get it. Though I was doing most of the writing (it's coming along, though, lol), he was coming up with the ideas. It was fun working with him to create little stories from each individual sentence. 

Several of the lessons (personal narrative, persuasive & expository essay's) are similar to speeches that we have in our speech & debate club, so both of my kids have had experience writing them. But the way that Mr. Stephens broke the lessons down really allowed them to work through the creation step by step. It made the process simpler and more enjoyable.

Overall, we really liked Essentials in Writing. The one thing that we didn't really like was the audio quality of the DVDs. It sounded like there was a slight vibration or echo. It did this on our t.v. and on the computer. It wasn't too overly distracting, but was definitely noticeable.

I am impressed with the quality of the curriculum in Essentials in Writing, aend am confident you will like it, too. You can see samples of the lessons on the website for each grade as well as the corresponding syllabus. Check it out for yourself. $40 for a full year language arts curriculum is an excellent price. To read reviews from SRC members for other Essentials in Writing grade levels click below.