Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Frozen Sidewalk Chalk



Muffin tin with water & baking soda mix
Ready to be frozen.

frozen chalk in muffin tin


writing with frozen chalk
They didn't really write too well.

fizzing frozen chalk
We added vinegar to the baking soda/water chalk for fizzing! 



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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Reviewing the e-Guide of Perelandra from Progeny Press

Perelandra e-Guide Cover

C.S. Lewis is one of our family's favorite authors, so we were very happy to be able to read Perelandra and use the e-Guide from Progeny Press to help our teen understand the material at a deeper level. Progeny Press offers "study guides for literature from a Christian perspective" with hundreds of e-Guides available from The Josefina Story Quilt e-Guide geared towards grades 1-3 to the Perelandra e-Guide for grades 9-12 which we reviewed.

The Mission of Progeny Press is "To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

You can watch this video from Progeny Press to learn more about the company.



Each study guide takes approximately 8-12 weeks to complete which means your child will complete about one page per day. Guides for younger children can take less time. As Perelandra proved to be a difficult text for our teen to read, we are working through the e-Guide more slowly to ensure that he understands the material that he is reading.

C.S. Lewis, Venus, and Perelandra e-Guide cover

The Perelandra e-Guide contains the following elements:
  • Synopsis of Perelandra, background information, and a Synopsis of Out of the Silent Planet (the first book in the trilogy) 
    • Since our teen has not read Out of the Silent Planet yet (my husband has read it), it was great that he could review the events on Malacandra and Ransom's encounters with the Sorn and Hrossa.
  • A biography of C.S. Lewis 
    • I love having a brief biography of the author as it prevents the need to go to the Internet to look it up.
  • Activities to complete prior to reading Perelandra 
    • While we didn't complete the prereading activities, they are quite good. I really like the idea of researching the mythical origin of Mars and Venus as well as that of 1930-1950s science fiction. These are just two of the six activities suggested. 
  • Vocabulary words and a variety of activities to introduce and teach the new words 
    • Vocabulary activities range from sentences from the book with the new words to discussion of mood and tone to searching for antonyms. With a variety of ways to learn vocabulary, students are sure to find at least one way which suits their learning style. 
Vocabulary from Perelandra e-Guide

  • Examination of literary techniques 
    • There are questions pertaining to metaphors, similes, descriptions, and imagery to name a few. 

Does Weston believe in moral absolutes - one of the questions from the Perelandra e-Guide

  • Examination of moral lessons and character values 
    • Through a variety of questions, we are able to discuss the difference between Weston and Ransom as we read quotes from the Bible and examine their decisions. I think this has been one of my favorite aspects of the e-Guide – we can have good conversations with our son with Perelandra as a starting point. 
  • A variety of activities and writing assignments 
    • There are typical essay assignments available, as well as art suggestions, and research papers to pick from for culminating activities. 
  • Suggestions for further reading 
    • Having a suggested list of books written by C.S. Lewis to look for and other books that relate to the series takes the guess work out what to read next. And the great thing is our son has already read some of the other books such as The Martin Chronicles and The Hobbit

Perelandra e-Guide and questions

What Our Family Likes 


My husband and I have been enjoying the fact that while we are discussing Perelandra with our son – and the answers to the vocabulary and other questions – we are also getting the opportunity to discuss real world events as well as the concepts of morality, right and wrong, and other topics in relation to the Christian view we are trying to instill in our son.

Perelandra e-Guide Questions

I also like that my husband is reading the book via an online application that allows him to search for key words as we discuss the various questions in the e-Guide. This way we can find the exact phrase or quote that a question brings up and find the reasons within the text for the answer suggested in the answer key. One specific instance would be that of the question pertaining to "emergent evolution" and the Force in Chapter 7. Our son had difficulty with that question, so in addition to giving him hints from the answer key we were able to re-read that portion of the text aloud to discuss whether or not Weston is presenting a paradox or a contradiction.

Perelandra e-Guide questions

Going Forward 


There is also an interactive feature to the e-Guide that allows your children to type their answers directly into the e-Guide. We chose to print out the unit study so that we could all be able to look at it while discussing the questions.

As our younger two children, who are being homeschooled, move forward in their reading journey, I look forward to relying upon Progeny Press for their e-Guides. Within the next year, we could use Frog and Toad Together e-Guide for our 5-year-old son. If our teen makes the decision to homeschool in the future, we will be looking for others such as Hamlet e-Guide, Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements e-Guide, and The Screwtape Letters e-Guide.

In addition, if you are curious, Progeny Press does offer an e-Guide for Out of the Silent Planet, if you would rather read Book # 1 in the Space Trilogy first and complete that e-Guide with your child. There are also sample pages from the various e-Guides to help you decide if it is a fit for your family.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Club: Review of 100 Bible Stories for Children

100 Bible for children book

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

Our family recently had the opportunity to review 100 Bible Stories for Children from Tyndale Kids (a division of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.). In the hardcover book, one reads about the stories of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Hannah, and Job, along with others from the Old Testament. The life of Jesus and parables of the New Testament include the Sower and the Lost Son as well as the journey of Peter and Paul after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

image of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

What We Like

  • Beautiful illustrations 
  • Short chapters that are easy to read aloud – they are manageable to read aloud or for older children to read alone 
  • Clear, easy-to-read text
  • Scripture references at the start of each story 
  • A titles list that provide an overview of the story to be read 

Image of Jacob
My son really enjoyed hearing about Jacob and Esau as he has been learning about the brothers in his Sunday School class. He loves being able to read more about the topics he learns from his lessons at church by reading 100 Bible Stories for Children.

I liked the inclusion of some stories that are not always found in children's bibles. In addition to this, I was happy to see the explanation provided in Chapter 25: The Passover Meal so we could discuss the holiday and its origins in Exodus. Another chapter I was pleased with was Chapter 91: The Holy Spirit. So often the Holy Spirit seems to be glossed over in children's religious studies, so I was happy to be able to read the story from 100 Bible Stories for Children as well as show my children the reference from Acts (the specific chapter and verse is provided in the book for parents).

100 Bible Stories for Children is a beautiful book sharing stories from the Old and New Testament. The pages are quite sturdy with clear easy-to-read text and colorful illustrations. Each story is accompanied by Scripture references so you can go to your family Bible to read the story in the non-abridged version.
Reading Genesis from 100 Bible Stories for Children

The visuals included with each story really help bring both the Bible story and the corresponding lesson to life for children (and adults!). For example, accompanying Chapter 51: Daniel and His Friends is a wonderful illustration depicting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the flaming furnace with an angel of the Lord protecting them. We can almost feel the heat of the furnace as the one soldier of King Nebuchadnezzar shields his face from the flames.

Another great example is the illustration included for Chapter 52: Daniel and the Lions. The art of Daniel standing amidst the lions and King Darius looking in – seeing Daniel untouched – is powerful. It really helps bring home the point that God protected Daniel from these potentially dangerous wild animals – who are snarling in the illustration!

Daniel and the Lions

In addition to the Old Testament illustrations, we also see the Good Shepherd protecting his herd from an hungry wolf, the sadness of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and the acceptance of Stephen in the New Testament. Each of these illustrations accompany well-written text that our five-year-old can read (with assistance), making the book great for our whole family.

How We Will Use 100 Bible Stories for Children 


  • Bedtime story time 
  • Reviewing Bible stories
  • Introduction of Bible stories
  • After watching a Veggie Tale episode, we will find the appropriate story in the book to read 
  • Independent reading time

I would recommend 100 Bible Stories for Children for families who are looking for a children's Bible storybook for ages 5 to 10. Older children could also use it as a refresher or quick read for their Bible studies – especially since it has the scripture references provided for each of the 100 stories. I am sure this will be a valued book on our shelves for years to come.

For more information, please visit Tyndale Kids. There is even a PDF excerpt on the site of this beautiful 320-page book!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Club: Engraved on the Heart

Engraved on the Heart cover

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson is one of the best period fiction novels I have read in a while. I was hesitant to review a book that takes place during one of my favorite time periods to study – that being the American Civil War period. Whenever I read any book – fiction or non-fiction – about the Civil War, I ask several questions:
  • Will the book be historically accurate? (Although I have no problems with fictitious characters meeting real people as long as it fits into the real historical timeline.) 
  • Will it weave enough history into the fictitious characters' lives to bring the past to life? 
  • Will it be an enjoyable story that needs to be set in history? 
After reading and reviewing Engraved on the Heart from Tyndale Fiction, the answer to all three questions is a definite YES for me! 

The story by Tara Johnson is primarily that of two individuals: Keziah Montgomery and Dr. Micah Greyson with their hometown of Savannah, Georgia as the backdrop. From the very first chapter, I was blown away and intrigued. I believe I finished Engraved on the Heart in less than a week. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the book.

Engraved on the Heart focuses upon Keziah, a young woman from a Confederate family who is suffering from an illness that her family wants to hide. This illness has kept her single much to the annoyance of her match-making parents. Right before the American Civil War starts Keziah's old schoolmate, Micah, returns from Philadelphia where he had trained as a doctor. In addition to learning his medical skills in Philadelphia, Micah also learned a lot from Abolitionists in the North, too. 

Love Quote from Engraved from the Heart
Ma Linnie's words reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. 

Keziah and Micah renew their friendship and embark on a dangerous journey together helping slaves escape in the Underground Railroad. In addition to their adventures helping slaves find freedom, they also grow to like, and maybe love, each other. While Keziah's illness has kept her single, Micah has his own secret that he believes will keep him single. All these details are wonderfully woven into the story. 

Throughout the book we clearly see Keziah and Micah's strong relationship with God and their faith that He will provide for and aid them in all endeavors. We also see Dr. Greyson giving up the work he does to God. He says, "The Almighty is the one who deserves the gratitude," when thanked for medical services (217). 

There are great descriptions used by Tara Johnson. For example, one of the characters is described as getting old: "His gentle movements reminded her more and more of a clock slowly winding down" (63). What I also like about the book is that there was one of those 'catch your breath,' 'Oh, NO!' moments towards the end. Maybe I didn't even see it coming because I was so caught up in the story but Johnson took me by surprise. 

I recommend Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson to anyone interested in historical fiction, Christian fiction, or fiction set during the American Civil War. While it tackles a difficult subject – slavery and the Underground Railroad – it is not a difficult read. I will be looking for more books by Tara Johnson in the future! 

Engraved on the Heart Book

Thursday, July 12, 2018

J is for Jamestown (Blogging through the Alphabet)

Jamestown Settlement

There are many interesting places to study and visit in relation to Colonial America. This week I chose to focus upon Jamestown for Blogging through the Alphabet. The town (and the nearby river) were named for King James I of England.

Facts about Jamestown
  • Narrow sandbar connected Jamestown to the mainland
  • Land was swampy 
  • Poor drinking water
  • Mosquitoes brought malaria 
  • First workers' strike in British America – Polish glass-makers demand same rights as Englishmen 
  • In 1619, men outnumber women 8:1 
  • House of Burgesses is formed to make laws 
Things started out well in the settlement of Jamestown but – during the summer and fall – Indian attacks, bad drinking water, disease, and poor diet led to great problems. If it wasn't for Captain John Smith, the settlement of Jamestown might not have survived. He took over the control of the colony when he was 28 and things were difficult in the settlement. 

"If any would not work, neither should he eat." – John Smith 


He sought aid from the Native Americans – the Powhatans – learning their language and the way in which they hunted and fished. Because of his honesty and fairness, he was respected by the Powhatans. He traded English goods with them for food like corn for the settlement. Smith also convinced the settlers to stop looking for gold and silver as he found no evidence of mines.
John Smith Quote

An accident occurred (gunpowder exploded in Smith's boat while he was sleeping) and Smith needed to return to England in the fall of 1609. Before he left, he wrote there were ten weeks' provisions for the settlement. He anticipated this would get the settlers through the winter and that the Native Americans would continue to supply corn. 

There were chickens and goats (and pigs on nearby Hog Island) as well as an abundant amount of wildlife in the woods (deer, squirrels and rabbits). People should be able to find frogs, fish, and oysters in the river. Things seemed to be going well for the settlement. New people arrived at Jamestown and a new baby was born – Virginia Laydon. 

But the Starving Time was coming. 


Why were the years 1609-1610 so difficult? Why did the Starving Time occur? The Powhatan wouldn't trade with Jamestown. The settlement was under siege. War broke out. The settlers could not leave to hunt or fish. They only had access to the supplies and food within the stockade. It was written people ate dogs, cats, mice, and rats. Even boots and shoes!

George Percy QuoteIn May 1610, two English ships tied up to the docks of Jamestown. In October 1609 when Smith left there were 500 settlers. Now there were only 60 left alive. Buildings had been burnt to help provide warmth. They wanted to leave. 

Lord de la Warr, the new governor, made the colonists start Jamestown again. And it prospered even under difficult conditions. More settlers arrived – artisans, laborers, women. And even though things were different, there were still many deaths due to the swampy land that led to diseases. 

Eventually the settlers in and around Jamestown would find a way to make great profits – tobacco. The leaves made the settlers rich after they figured out the best way to run their plantations. They employed indentured servants and slaves to help work the tobacco plantations. 



A Turning Point – 1618-1619 


The settlers set up their own law-making body – the House of Burgesses – which meant they were making laws for themselves. Land reforms also made it easier for settlers to obtain private property. The tobacco plantations began to use Africans in addition to indentured servants. (Whether the Africans were slaves or indentured servants is still up for debate.)

There would be periods of success and failure for Jamestown up until the 1670s when the town burned to the ground during Bacon's Rebellion. You can still visit the area where the National Park Service has several interesting places to study and see.

Building Jamestown

Resources 


Colonial National Historic Park 
Jamestown Rediscovery: Historic Jamestowne 




Jamestown Settlement and Tobacco plant

images from: 
Pottery: © Mlhead | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Fort: Pixabay 
Tobacco plant: Openclipart 
Other images from U.S. History Images