April 27, 2016

Homeschooling When Your Child is Deaf {Homeschooling: Keeping It Real Series}

I am pleased to share with you a beautiful post written by my friend Sara who blogs at Adventures at the Hawk's Nest. She has graciously and eagerly written a post for my Homeschooling: Keeping It Real Series in which she shares about an unexpected adventure and challenge she and her husband faced, after adopting their beautiful son two years ago. Without further ado, I turn the microphone over to Sara to let her share her story...

Our son arrived home on December 10, 2014. We knew, long before then, that we wanted to home school any children we might have. But we hadn’t anticipated the extra challenges that could be waiting for us now.

Ethan was 19 months old and had lived most of his life, up to that point, in a foster home in Kunming, China. 

Our son was also deaf.

April 25, 2016

Heroes of History~ David Crockett: Ever Westward {Curriculum Review}

Our household loves history. Last year we were able to review a great biography unit study from YWAM Publishing and it really fed Little Britches history passion. Needless to say, when we had a chance to review Heroes of History~ David Crockett from YWAM Publishing, he was very pleased and was eager to begin the story.
Heroes of History~ David Crockett: Product Review

Product Information

YWAM Publishing is known for their fabulous biographies on famous men and women throughout history. Two of their most popular series are Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History

The Christian Heroes series focuses on men and women who were instrumental for spreading the word of God throughout the world--people like Amy Carmichael, C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, Jim Eliot, William Carey and more! Heroes of History focuses on the famous men and women who shaped our world no matter what time period they lived in--people like Daniel Boone, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Carson and many more.

The biographies are geared towards the 10+ age group and there are Unit Study Curriculum Guides available for many of them--turning these biographies into homeschool curriculum.

The paperback biographies are available for $7.50, while the Unit Study Curriculum Guides cost $5.49 (downloadable) or $7.49 (physical CD). Beware though that they are phasing out the physical CD and moving to exclusively offering the downloadable--so you won't find the physical CD option for more than just a couple of them.

We were given a large selection of their biographies to choose from, and Little Britches decided he wanted to review David Crockett: Ever Westward, from the Heroes of History series. We were also given a Digital Download of the Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review.

How Did We Use It?

Because we were able to review this company last year, I was prepared for the format. The book arrived and then we just waited to receive our access to the digital download. I accessed it easily on my Windows 8 through a Chrome browser. It came as a zip file which I saved on my hard drive--I will move it to a flash drive soon. 

Here is what you see when you open the zip drive:

Clicking on the pdf opens up everything you need to get started! You can access everything individually from this menu--clicking on any of the opens with the browser icon will take you to an overview page:
It is possible to access everything you need for the unit study from here if you prefer to see it in this style. The unit study can be accessed by clicking "unit study"--this will open up links to begin the pdf's for the curriculum guide. Or, you can skip all this by clicking "pdf" back on the first menu.

The overview provides assistance in figuring out ideas on how to use the Unit Study information in the different educational settings. It's not necessary to read these, but it might be helpful especially if you are thinking about doing it in a co-op setting. I simply went straight to the Unit Study 1 pdf. This gives you a 70+ page unit study guide for helping you use the book in learning over many subjects. I have found that printing this really is beneficial, so I print out the pages I wanted so I didn't have to keep opening up the pdf on my computer.

The unit study guide provides a plethora of information for you to use including: chapter questions, student explorations, community links, and social studies. Each of these sections is designed to use the book to explore rabbit trails relating to your topic--in our case, David Crockett.
There are six chapter questions for each chapter--the first is a vocabulary word question. The second is a factual questions taken from the text. Questions three and four are for gauging student comprehension of what they read. Questions 5 and 6 are open ended allowing for your student to process what they read and use it to provide their own interpretation for the answers. Although there are 6 questions, we are only answering four. I keep track of the questions in a composition book, because I can write out several chapters in advance, and I can keep record of his answers. 

The sentence for the vocabulary question cracked me up. He definitely knows it's meaning!
The second aspect of the curriculum that we did, was pick parts from the student explorations and social studies to be completed. I like the hands-on projects that are part of the student exploration--and that they give you many different ideas to choose from. Here are two  of the ones we will be working on...

He LOVES researching anything on antique guns--so I know he'll enjoy this
Working on his illustrated pictures for his David Crockett picture book
The social studies provides many ways to use the locations and places discussed in the book. The unit study includes a timeline, and at least two maps (found in Unit Study Part 2 on the file). The Social Studies portion offers up ideas on how you can use the maps to trace journeys, mark key locations, record city name changes, and much more. 
We always do a timeline numbering the events to plot them
We will be using the guide to mark at least one of the four journey's discussed in the book. We will also pull down our large classroom map to finalize the journeys. 

Another activity that is ongoing is our biography fact sheet on David Crockett that is included in the worksheets. Anytime we learn a new family member (sibling, spouse or offspring) or important date we add it to the list. 

In regards to the book, the chapters are long, so although the reading level is on par with where Little Britches is at, we share the reading load. He reads the first 4 pages of the chapter and I read the rest. This works very well for us.

We have been working on this product for 2-4 days a week depending on what we have going on. As of right now we are on chapter six after having done roughly one chapter a week with the reading, chapter questions, and activities.

What Are Our Thoughts on the Product?

Little Britches: I really like all the reading and the activities, but I don't like the chapter questions when I have to write them down. I wish I could answer them all orally, but mommy won't let me. I think David Crockett is cool and the book tells all kinds of stories about him when he was a little boy. I like that.

Me: I think this is a very comprehensive history/literature curriculum. It would be easy to use these books and coordinating Unit Study as a full curriculum for any grade--if you purchased several of them for your school year. Our book has 17 chapters, and working through 1-2 chapters a week has provided me with a lot of great work, thanks to the extras provided in the study guide. The program is very full and allows for you to add as much as you want--and to spread the learning throughout other subjects. There is so much information and ideas in the unit study--more than you would ever use with any one child. It is NOT open-and-go which might deter some, but I am use to unit studies and know that they are giving you far more information than you would ever use, so you can pick what will work best.

I appreciate the "lesser known" stories that are told in these books--especially the time devoted to the men/women as children. That really helps relate their life work more, when the students get to see that they had issues with things in life as children, just as they do. Little Britches thought it was funny that David Crockett didn't like school in the beginning and just wanted to be outside--exactly what Little Britches thinks! He also found it interesting that David Crockett was not called Davy and that it was more of an entertainment nickname. 

There are several activities that I plan on having us do when we are finished with the reading of the book--including looking back over the photos that I have from the two times that I have been to the Alamo in San Antonio. Since that is where Crockett's story ends, it will be a great conclusion for our study as well. I look forward to trying to find a copy of the Walt Disney movie on David Crockett so we can do the compare and contrast activity. I might also find the movie The Alamo and screen pieces of it with David Crockett so that Little Britches and can see how he's portrayed in the movie.

Will we continue to use this product?
Absolutely. I plan on seeing it through to the end--which should be right about when we are done with school for our 2015-2016 year in June. It's a great program and one that I will add to my other YWAM study Daniel Boone on our shelf.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes, I would recommend this product. I would especially recommend it if someone is looking to combine history and literature AND teach multi-age levels. I believe that this product allows you to do that very well. If you follow all the areas of the unit study, you will have social studies, arts and crafts, science and more! It is easily adaptable for different ages making it a cost effective option.
I don't recommend this book for younger than about 10 years old because the story is presented with more vivid scenes--like the indian encounters. Something for an older elementary student. I would put the book at a 5th grade+ reading level.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the unit study Heroes of History~ David Crockett by YWAM Publishing. You know how it worked for us, but what about the other unit studies our team reviewed? Make sure you go check them out!
Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
Want to stay up to date on the latest information from YWAM Publishing? You can follow them on these social media sites and stay in the know!




The YWAM Publishing Blog: 

I am so glad that we now have two of these great unit studies to keep in our library for future use! They are high quality and definitely something those who enjoy unit studies should check out! I plan on snagging the different biographies as they go on sale through the upcoming years because they will be a great addition to our school library!

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April 23, 2016

Fresh from the Coop: Movin' on Out

It's hard to believe that we've already had these chickens for almost a month, but it's true and boy they are growing like weeds! So I just wanted to give you a Fresh from the Coop update on what our adventure looks like at this point.

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I had no idea that chickens grew up so fast. 
Did you know that they from the time you get them as chicks, they start looking different every single day? When we first got them, we could easily see things that were different about them to set each of the six apart. Now we can only tell one apart, because she's different coloring. The other five have now become nearly identical! 

Their feathers have grown more and more every day. 5 out of 6, have long beautiful wings. Four of them have the puffiest 1" of tail feathers ever. But I am not kidding--every time you peak in the box, they look different because their feathers are just growing so fast. 

Speaking of the box, as you can see from the pictures above, I decided to let them out a little bit. We found some old milk crates and put them in--three per crate. We then moved them to the edge of the garden where a lot of scratching can happen. They loved it. I left them in those whenever I was outside doing gardening, or hanging out clothes.

I gave them their real taste of freedom last week when I let them out three at a time to just explore. I sat nearby, because I had no desire to do any chicken chasing. It amazes me how they already respond to me and come when I call them.

(repeating to myself--these are chickens not pets! LOL)

Their brooder was just too small, so this weekend, it was time to move them out. 
The days and nights are warm enough that they are ready for their coop. Love-Of-My-Life decided that though it was small, it will work for now and he can make changes to it as they get larger and need it for nesting.

We took them out to the coop 1-2 at a time. From the moment they arrived, they started pecking around. We decided that for now we'd position it in the old sand pile.

It's a great place because:

1. The sand. Chickens need grit if they are eating things besides feed (something I learned!), and the sand will supply that without me having to add anything else!

2. The ants. The sandpile is ant infested. That's why the sandpile has been deserted by my boys! Ants took it over making ant nests everywhere. Red ants. Black ants. Chickens adore ants. Thus, they are having a blast scratching at all the ant nests they can reach. And when we throw scraps in the coop for the chickens, the scraps attract...more ants! Totally a win win for the chickens!

3. It's out of the way. The sandpile is a big bare spot in the middle of the backyard. It had no purpose any longer. This made it a very logical choice for the coop. And because it's a large circle about 5' in diameter, we will be able to move the coop around every week and give them a go at a new spot in the sand. We will move them elsewhere eventually, but for now this is a great spot for them!

With the arrival of the coop in the backyard, we finally had to deal with...Jack the cat. 

He's a tom cat that loves to hunt and is very good at it. He's been highly curious about the brooder box and would peer at the chickens from a distance, when they were out in the crates. But he was never allowed to be close.

Until the coop.

So he strolled up. He looked around for someone to tell him to go away. He circled the coop and sniffed. The chickens saw him and huddled at first. He continued to circle. Then he got low and crept in quickly...and then discovered the chicken wire. Nope. No getting in there. But he has continued to check it out. He even climbed up on top to investigate. No luck. So now he just continues to circle and watch. Then he walks away and does other cat stuff...then returns to do the process again.

And the chickens?

Once they figured out they were safe, they just went back to their business.

Now we have extra responsibility.

Every night we have to put the chickens up. Right now they are still new to the whole roost at night thing, so we have to get them in there every night and shut them up. Eventually they will figure it out on their own. But right now, at dark, they huddle in a corner of the coop until we get them inside.

Every morning, we have to open the door and let them out. They like this part. They come racing down the ramp and start scratching and clucking. They come to the wire and talk to me with this deep throated chirp. I usually have a handful of beetles or something to share.

I am still doing active research.

Remember? I am clueless when it comes to chickens. Love-Of-My-Life knows more because his gran grew up with them--and thus he did as well. So he gives me tips and tricks about my our chickens. Like--chickens don't need a lot of feed. They love food scraps and scratching. So we just scatter a handful of feed and then keep them full of scraps. And boy do they get full of scraps! Yesterday the six of them cleaned out an entire mixing bowl of scraps down to nothing but crushed egg shells--and their crops were full for sure. They were bulging! LOL! Definitely well fed. I didn't realize chickens could have a noticeably "full belly" like humans after a good meal.

I am trying to learn as much as I can through reading some great blogs and finding all sorts of goodies on Pinterest. I now have a pinterest board devoted entirely to all things raising chickens. You can follow me there if you have chickens of your own and you are looking for all sorts of new ideas:

So far my two favorite websites/blogs are Backyard Chickens and Fresh Eggs Daily. So much knowledge on those two websites! I encourage you to check them out if you do chickens, or are thinking about doing chickens!

So there is my update on our adventures...I am hoping to get new pictures of each of the girls so you can see how they have changed over the last weeks. I actually can't even remember quite who is whom at this point because they look so similar--but there are a few with unique characteristics.

Have a simply marvelous week and thanks for checking out this second entry in my adventures Fresh from the Coop!

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