Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature - Introduction to Literature

As a homeschooler with a house full of high schoolers ( and 1 middle schooler) , who happens to be studying literature this year, I was incredibly thrilled to learn that we were going  to review Excellence in Literature 's Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell.

EIL, is geared for students grades 8-12, and even has an honors option. With EIL, your child will learn to think and write analytically. Additionally, while the author gives instructions for the assignments, you will not find included lots of background information or lengthy introductions. However, you will find that the author has provided links and resources for the children to research and flesh out these pieces of information on their own.  She also let's the student know that it is their responsibility to read through Introduction to Literature. Why? The author is encouraging the students to become responsible for their  own education! This is an idea that I have been working at conveying to my children, so this is an idea I stand behind!

There are 9 units in Introduction to Literature. These units are designed to be done in about one month. However, you could easily adapt the units to fit the needs of your family. Advance the units at a quicker pace, or space the units to fit the needs of your household. With the  Honor's Option that is available, in order  to earn advanced placement or college credit for the class,you will also need to take an AP or CLEP exam.

As a mother of several children with dyslexia, I appreciated that she also encouraged that if you needed to, you may listen to the longer unabridged versions of the books. For many children with Special Needs, having to read these complete literary works would be too daunting. Allowing for the audio versions brings them within reach of many more students! The author also provides additional 'reading' in each section. This will help contextualize the works of literature that they are reading.  Also, this course assumes that the student has the necessary skills in grammar, spelling and mechanics. If your student struggles in these areas, there are some suggested resources available.

Author Janice Campbell uses this quote in the Introduction to the program;

Learning Philosophy

Learn (lûrn) v. 1 To acquire knowledge of or skill in by observation, study, instruction, etc. 2 To find out;ascertain: to learn the facts. 3 To memorize. 4 To acquire by or as by practice: to learn good habits.Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary: Encyclopedic Edition 1971

With this in mind these are the units that are covered in Excellence in Literature.  ( From their website)

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.

  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.

  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.

  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.

  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    Unit 1: Short Stories by-
    • Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
    • Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
    • O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
    • James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
    Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

    Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

    Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

    Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

    Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Note: Books listed in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context readings are assigned within each unit.

I feel as if we have just been able to get a taste of Introduction to Literature in the time that we have had it. However, I have liked what I have seen. I have really appreciated the way the the author gives the student just enough information, almost like bread crumbs, that keeps them searching down the path. Teaching them to keep their eyes open as the read to notice, perhaps, the style of the writer, or something about the time frame the book is written.

I look forward to completing Introduction to Literature with my children over this school year.  Introduction in Literature is available in Ebook format for $27, and in print form for $29 plus shipping and handling. You can visit their website for more information on Introduction in Literature, as well as, their full line of Literature products.

You can even follow Excellence In Literature on Facebook!

Please stop by the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying about Excellence in Literature.

**note: I was given a free copy of the e-book Introduction to Literature, in exchange for my honest opinion. This post serves to meet that requirement. All views expressed herein are mine and mine alone and do not demonstrate and guarantees or promise of service. No other form of payment or compensation has been offered or accepted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Say Anything

I was first introduced to the North Star family of games almost 2 years ago, when I was given the opportunity to review Wits and Wagers Family, you can read that review here.  I will tell you that our family still enjoys playing Wits and Wagers Family! This time around, I have the chance to review Say Anything!

I must say that we love this game as much as we do Wits and Wagers! It is quick, fun and the whole family can play!

Here is how North Star Games describes it:

"Say Anything is a light-hearted game about what you and your friends think.  It will get people talking, laughing and having fun in minutes.  Enjoy it with three to eight family members or as an hilarious party game with adults.  So dig deep into your heart or just come up with something witty - this is your chance to Say Anything!"


Geared for ages 8+ for 3 -6 players. This is a quick game, you can play start to finish in 10- 25 minutes depending on how many players are participating. Each player takes a turn reading questions. These are hard hitting questions like... What would be the worst fruit to accidentally sit on?  or What movie character would I least want to be? or Which famous person should never be allowed to rap? While the remaining players quickly write down their answers.  The question reader ( or judge) secretly picks their favorite answer.  The remaining player then place their 2 tokens on the card or cards they think the judge will pick. You get points for guessing correctly and for the judge picking your answer!

Our family of all ages had a great time playing this game, and it did not take too long to play. Which for our busy life, is the kind of game we need! We laughed as we looked at the answers that each other came up with. At first, some were trying give sort of serious answers, which quickly morphed into who could come up with the wittiest answer!

This would make a great came for the holiday gatherings coming up. I think we will break this out on Thanksgiving Day!  As well as a wonderful gift for the family for Christmas!


You can purchase online for approx $19.99 at various retailers, such as Amazon,  or you can go here to find a store near you!

Don't forget to stop by the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about.... Say Anything!


***Note: I received a free copy of Say Anything in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been offered or accepted.   The views expressed here are my personal opinions, and do not constitute a promise of service or guarantee.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Memories - Giveaway Winner Announced


I would like to announce the winner of the MyMemories giveaway..... Julie from A Teaching Heart!

Julie, I hope that you enjoy your My Memories Suite!



Monday, October 24, 2011

Marshall Publishing - George Washington Carver


As a family of homeschoolers with a myriad of special needs learners, we often look for ways to get information into our children, without having them to read it out of dry textbooks. We have utilized audio and video methods many times over the years. However, we had never heard of Marshall Publishing.

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we were given the opportunity to review a George Washington Carver Educational DVD.  We sat down as a family and watched and learned about George Washington Carver. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about his life, and his career. A wonderful treat, was toward the end of the DVD, there was actual film footage of George Washington Carver speaking.

As a family, we have our own garden, and we have been striving to have a healthy diet. The interesting thing is, that many of the things we have learned about healthy soils and healthy plants, George Washington Carver, either discovered or taught on. It was neat for the kids to see that and make the connection for themselves.

The video is not high paced, or high impact, so small children may not be able to sit still. However,  I would say if you have an upper elementary all the way up through high school and beyond! There are little nuggets sprinkled throughout the DVD.

George Washington Carver is available for $19.95, However, Marshall Publishing is offering my readers a 15% discount, which brings your price to $16.95 plus shipping and handling.  Please use coupon code TOSC1 at check out to receive you discount.

While you are on the Marshall Publishing website be sure to see all they have to offer! Here you will find their Educational Historical Documentaries.

You can also follow Marshall Publishing on Facebook!

Be sure to visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying about George Washington Carver and Marshall Publishing!




Friday, October 21, 2011

Mighty Macs - A Movie for the Whole Family

Do you have plans for the weekend? How about a movie date night with your entire family?  The Mighty Macs, is a movie that you can feel comfortable watching with all of your family members.

We were recently given the opportunity to preview The Mighty Macs, prior to todays' theater release. And I must tell you,  my daughters and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this moving together. It is inspirational and exciting!

What did we enjoy about this movie? First, It was based on a true story, which is why I wanted to watch it with my daughters. I want them to remember that they have been blessed with many talents, and it is up to them to use their God given abilities. And this movie does a wonderful showcasing a group of women, who, in the midst of diversity, learn how to rise above it and believed in themselves, and worked together for a common goal!  Second, it was about women's basketball, and with an aspiring women's athlete, I knew that she would love to see other women doing what she loves to do! And, finally, I love that I did not have to shield their eyes, or divert attention or mute one single time, throughout the entire movie. It really is a movie that can be watch by the entire family!

Let's make a point to support movies like this! Let's show the movie industry, that there is a large market for uplifting, inspiring and wholesome films!

The Mighty Macs - Opening in Theaters today, October 21st - check your local listings!

Rated G

Take a moment to watch The Mighty Macs Trailer:





Here is a little about the movie that was shared with us from the producers:

"It's 1971. Cathy Rush is a woman ahead of her time ... and she's about to embark on an adventure for the ages. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women's basketball.

In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women's Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush is about to find Immaculata College.

Recently married, Cathy is dealing with the aftermath of a truncated playing career. While cultural norms would have her staying at home, she's willing to do the hard work necessary to help her new team reach their goals—or perhaps she's just trying to achieve her unfulfilled dreams through them.

From the beginning, her challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. Cathy learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school's Mother Superior, and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team!

While it appears the Macs don't have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday—a spunky assistant coach—and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team—and the school—together.

Will this pioneer buck cultural norms and spur her rag-tag team to unexpected heights? Or will her hard-driving ways create a wedge between the coach and everyone around her? One thing's for certain: there's never been anyone like Cathy Rush at Immaculata!"
You can learn more about the movie by visiting these websites!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:
“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Educating the Whole Hearted Child

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we were given the opportunity to review Educating the WholeHearted Child written by Clay and Sally Clarkson and published by Apologia Education Ministries. I must tell you, that this is a whopper of a book (376 pages), and  I have only begun to scratch the surface of all that this book has to offer. In this review, I will do my best to convey all that the amazing book has to offer.

This book can easily be called the How to Homeschool Manual.  I have found many of the thoughts that  I have had about homeschooling over the years have been contained in this wonderful book. The interesting thing is that I had never heard of this book, and I discovered that this book has actually been around since 1994, and recently has been completely updated! I wish that I had known about this book, back when I first started homeschooling my children 12 years ago.

Clay and Sally Clarkson share with you, how their family integrated "Real Books and Real Life" into their homeschool and their family, creating a "Vibrant Center of Living and Learning". One thing that is stressed throughout the book, is that their intent is not that you follow their model exactly. They want you to allow God to be the center of your home, and to lead your homeschool. The information shared between the covers of this book, should serve as tools for you to use.  I love this! Often times as homeschoolers, we get so caught up in how others do things, and trying to recreate their homeschool, that we neglect to lean on God and allow Him to design our homeschool.

Here are just a few of the topics covered in Educating the Whole Hearted Child:

~ Learning at to Home with Christ

~ Shepherding Your Child's Spirit to Long for God

~Living and Learning Together at Home

~ Creating a home You Can Learn Within

~ Understanding Your Child

~ The Study of the Bible

~The Study of Living

~Keeping the Vision Alive

And much more!!!

Her you can see chapter one and the complete table of contents to get a taste of all that this books has to offer.

In addition to these, you will also find a section in the back with some very useful forms!  While there are some of the forms that you would expect in a homeschool book, the forms that most impress me ( which are most of them) are the ones that not only on focus on say a chore that needs to be done. But it also reminds the child (and us) of why they are doing those chores. The Check Me Out Dependable List is designed to train and reinforce good habits in your children, rather than discipline them.  Next to the list of morning chores it says " Sow your seed in the morning"...  Evening it says, " And at evening let your hands not be idle"... and  All Day says, " Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God".  I like that A LOT!!  It is a reminder to us, as parents that we are to be focused on the heart of the child, not simply the behavior.  What a wonderful tool!

As you work through this book, you will find that any question that you have had, has been addressed. From homeschooling methods, to how to pick out a curriculum, to learning styles, to planning, to individual subjects and so much more!

Please take a moment to visit Apologia and take a look at this must have for every homeschool! You can purchase your very own copy of Educating the Whole Hearted Child for $22 on the Apologia Website.  Apologia, also offers a fill line of Science Curriculum, Apologetics and Geography Resources and much more!

Take a moment to visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Educating the WholeHearted Child.


**note: I was provided with a complementary copy of Educating the Whole Hearted Child in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions shared in the review are my own, and do not constitute and guarantees or promises. No other compensations has been offered or accepted.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Memories Review and Giveaway!!!

I was recently given the opportunity to review My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software. Now before I begin, I feel that I should tell you a few things, I think you should know about me. First, I am NOT a scrapbooker! Moreover, I am a photo taker, that has hundreds of photos, on my camera, on my phone and on my computer ( files and on places like facebook) and I even have crates, yes crates filled with photos that have not been cataloged, categorized, or put into albums... I believe about 25 years worth...

As you can see, in the world of scrapbooking, I am a novice! So the following review, is from a beginners point of view!

With all of that said, when I heard about My Memories, a digital scrapbooking program, I was excited.I thought that maybe, just maybe, this program would help me to organize the memories that I cherished enough to take a photo of!  My Memories is a digital scrapbooking program that gives you the tools to save your photos in fun ways. In addition to typical looking scrap book pages, you also have the ability to save them in a slide show or movie and set them to music and a myriad of other options.

There are some very basic templates that come with the program, however, in addition to these, they have a free kits section available on their website, that will give you quite the catalog of embellishments, templates and background papers to choose from. All for free! Plus they have many affordable kits available for you to purchase as well.

So now, here is the question, is My Memories easy enough for a novice like me to get the hang of? The answer yes! There was a learning curve, but I would say that is more about me trying to be creative, versus the program being difficult to use. While there were many times, where I sat looking at the screen thinking... okay, I don't know where to begin, thankfully, many of the templates available through My Memories, have built in creativity.

However, when I just started working with the program, first I would pick the template that I wanted to use, and then as that opened up, I started thinking about what photos, and what I wanted to convey with that album.  And by doing that I would then select the photos to get ready to be placed into the scrapbook.

When I am ready to place the photo, I simply drag it into place and it will auto fit into the template frame. Also, if you don't like how it is centered, you can 'nudge' it into the position you like.  You even have the option of changing the order of how items are 'stacked' on the page.  Which one is in the very back and how the others are layered in front.  By using s few of these very simple options, each of these pages that you see here, were built!

What you see throughout this post are some of the pages that I created while using My Memories.


Here is a screen shot of the control panel within My Memories.

On the left of the screen shot, are additional template options available through My Memories, and on the right, you find your controls for adding, background papers, embellishments, word art, music and much more!  On the bottom, you will see each of the pages you have created in the album that you are working on.

The page I was working on in the screen shot, used a blank template, I added a background paper, the flowers and the wording.. this was one of my first attempts at being creative, from scratch.

The biggest plus of all, is the affordablity of the My Memories! You can download your My Memories Suite for $39.97!

But that's not all!!!!

I have some even better news! First, the fine people from My Memories have provided one copy My Memories to giveaway to one of my readers !!! I am so excited for you guys! I know that you are going to love this program! Second, if you are not the reader that wins a free copy, never fear! I have an awesome coupon code for you!

Visit their website and type in this code STMMMS66766 You will receive   a $10 discount off the urchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - $20 value!  This is amazing! And makes My Memories very affordable for EVERY family!


If you would like to enter to win your own My Memories Suite, here's how:

Leave a comment, tell me how you plan on using your product!  - 1 entry

Follow this blog - 1 entry - (leave comment)

Follow this blog's Facebook Page - 1 entry (leave comment)

Contest closes on October 25th! Winner will be announced and contacted within 48 hours of contest closing.



**Note, I was given a free copy of My Memories in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions that are expressed within do not constitute a guarantee or promise of services. Additional copy of My Memories has been provided at no charge for a giveaway.

No purchase necessary to enter, must be 18 years old to enter. Void where prohibited.