Friday, October 17, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ October 17th

The Pebble Pond


I am so sorry for missing last week. Life seems to only be getting busier by the minute.

1. I hosted a bridal shower last weekend for my little sister. The theme was "The Hunt is Over". Kind of a country/rustic/camo theme. It was a blast! I'll post pictures soon.

2. I ditched Alyssa's history already. Didn't the school year just start. Goodness.

3. Today we are headed to a State Park and will start our nature notebooks for the year. Exciting stuff.

4. My kitchen is a mess at the moment. Literally, if you saw it you would question my sanity.

5. Fall is unbelievably beautiful in Ohio. Every time a new season rolls around, I swear it is my favorite. So lets just say I love fall instead of insisting it is my favorite. Okay? Okay.

Have a FABULOUS weekend. :)






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SchoolHouse Review ~ Apologia (iwitness Series)

Apologia Educational Ministries has a way of not letting me down. I have reviewed many items from them over the years and I am always very satisfied by the end of the review period. This time was no different.

Apologia Review

I was able to review 3 different books:

Each book was written and designed by Doug Powell. Mr. Powell himself is a pretty fascinating man. He has a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His is a best selling author, award winning graphic designer, an app designer and a musician.

Each book is about 60 pages long. They are small, sturdy books. They are undeniably beautiful. Set up to look almost like scrapbooking pages which make them very personable. Each book is $14.

Let me tell you a little bit about each book and then I will tell you what we thought.

Apologia Review


Archaeology is the study of history through what has been left behind. This book gives details and information proving the Bible to be historically accurate.





 Here is a list of topics discussed:
  • The Flood
  • Looking for Noah's Ark
  • Egyptian Chronology
  • The Exodus
  • The House of David Inscriptions
  • YHWH Inscriptions
  • Sennacherib's Siege of Jerusalem (Finds at Nineveh)
  • Sennacherib's Siege of Jerusalem (Finds at Jerusalem)
  • Old Testament History
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Oldest Old Testament Copies
  • Hadrian and Constantine
  • Jesus' Judges
  • Jesus' World
  • Jesus' World (Jerusalem)
  • New Testament Locations
  • New Testament Inscriptions
  • The Burial Shroud of Jesus?


Apologia Review

In this book Mr. Powell takes us on a journey through the Old Testament. He discusses who wrote some of the books of the Old Testament, why they wrote it and even when. The book is based on the fact that to understand who Jesus is we have to understand Hebrew scriptures. It also answers questions like How do we know the Old Testament is historically accurate and What's the difference between the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament.

Here are the topics discussed:
  • Manuscripts
  • Copying
  • Canon Criteria
  • Tanakh
  • Canon Formation
  • Septuagint
  • Torah
  • Prophets
  • Documentary Hypothesis
  • Covenants (And Near East Treaties)
  • Nevi'im
  • Major Prophets
  • Minor Prophets
  • Ketuvi'im
  • The Scrolls
  • Wisdom Books
  • History Books
  • Intertestamental Period
  • Apocrypha
  • Vulgate
  • Apocrypha Acceptance
  • Apocrypha Canonization
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Archaeology
  • New Testament
  • Timeline

Apologia Review

This book is laid out similar to the the Old Testament iwitness. The beginning of the book states how important the New Testament is in understanding who Jesus is and the meaning of His life. It answers questions like Were there other books that could have been included but were left out for some reason and who decided on the books?




Here are the topics discussed:
  • Councils of Hippo and Carthage
  • Canon Criteria
  • Athanasius 
  • Eusebius 
  • Church Fathers
  • Church Fathers
  • Muratorian Canon
  • Marcion Canon
  • The Gospel
  • The Apostle
  • Apostolic Fathers
  • Apostolic Age
  • Synoptic Problem
  • Hymns and Creeds
  • Rejected Books
  • Canon Certainty
  • How It Was Copied
  • Number of Copies
  • Copying Methods
  • Differences in the Copies
  • Manuscript Families (Or Text Types)
  • Textual Criticism
  • Recovered Text


I can not express enough how beautiful each one of these books are. They are the perfect size to carry around and hold onto. They are intended for children ages 11 and up. That would definitely be the reading age but even younger children would enjoy the beautiful artwork scattered throughout.

So what did we think? We loved them, of course. These books are wonderful additions to a homeschool library. My kids have a lot of questions and these books helped to answer many of them. As much as I love history, especially biblical history, I am a bit clueless when it actually comes down to it.

We read through them together and that led to a lot of discussion time. The only issue I had with the books was the font. It was a little hard to read at times. A struggling reader may find it even more difficult. It wouldn't keep me from buying them but something to keep in mind for your own family.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

SchoolHouse Review ~ Fortuigence

Alyssa started reading when she was 3 years old. She started writing stories not long after that. Now at 14 her writing skills are amazing. Her stories blow my mind. She is very creative and intelligent. There is only one problem with this. I am NOT a writer. I couldn't write a story to save my life. She started high school this year and to tell you the truth, I may have broken out in hives just thinking about grading her papers.

Don't get me wrong. I love homeschooling. I would have it no other way. I just want what is best for my kids. If I am not very good at a certain subject, I am scared that I will not push them past their comfort zone. I am afraid they will not go far above what I know. If we are talking math? Sure! But writing? Please, no.

Then came along an amazing review opportunity! 

Fortuigence Review

We just reviewed and completed Essay Rock Star Textual Analysis Writing Course from Fortuigence. Fortuigence is an online essay writing course created by Lily Iatridis. Ms. Iatridis taught over ten years in a traditional classroom. After taking time off to start a family she decided to start this program. It is geared toward middle and highschool students. Typically ages 12-18.

The courses offered are all online and it is set up to have one on one interaction between the student and the teacher. There are actually 4 Rock Star courses to choose from:


Each course is considered .125 credit in composition for your highschooler. Once they complete all 4 courses they would earn .5 credit. 

Each course can be purchased for $57 or you can purchase a package that includes all 4 classes for $197. 

Let me tell you the details of the course Alyssa took and then I will tell you what I thought about it. Alyssa even has a thing or two to say!

The course is broken down into steps. It is meant to be skill mastery so the child can take as much time as they need to finish each step. For each step there is a video lesson and a section to read. If you prefer you can listen to an audio version of the reading section.

After each step, the child sends in their work and receives feedback from their teacher.

Step 1: Course Introduction, Rubrics, and Pre-Assessment: For this step, we read through the details of the course and what was expected. Alyssa also had to send in a previous assignment to see where she was at in her writing ability.


Step 2: Purpose and Description; Brainstorming: The brainstorming section is where the student comes up with the topic for their essay. Alyssa spent some time at this step. She jumped right in at first and was going to choose The Lord of the Rings as her topic. I asked her to step out of her comfort zone. She writes a lot and has chosen that topic before. I brainstormed with her and we agreed on a picture about self image. Well that turned out to be a bust because of the artist. She decided on Star... Which she was reading at the start of the course. She ended up finishing it in just a few days so she could move on to the next step. 

Step 3: Organizing Ideas: Alyssa wrote out an outline and sent it in. 

Step 4: Free Writing: This step is where Alyssa turned in her first draft. She was told to write. Not to worry about grammar and punctuation.

Step 5: Revision: Come up with a thesis statement, introduction and conclusion. Make sure sentences make sense.

Step 6: Editing: Alyssa was told she could skip the actual editing. Here is where the child would correct any punctuation or grammar mistakes until the final product was correct. Then send in a final essay.

Step 7: Wrap Up: At this step Alyssa was given a certificate of completion and she had the ability to give feedback on the class.

There was 7 steps to the class but they actually teach a 5 step writing process. Steps 2-6 are the actual essay writing steps. 
Fortuigence Review

Alyssa completed the course and was given an A+. I am so proud of her and I honestly can not rave enough about this program. Alyssa is a talker. She asks a lot of questions and she is determined. Ms. Iatridis could not have been any more wonderful. Her and Alyssa had almost daily interaction. She always responded quickly and answered every question that Alyssa asked. She took the time to walk her through information that Alyssa didn't understand. This program was a perfect fit for her.


It also was a perfect fit for me! I really enjoyed getting the feedback from Ms. Iatridis . It was a weight off my shoulders to have someone else looking over her work. This was the first time Alyssa ever had the instruction of someone else. She handled it wonderfully. I never had to push her to do each assignment. She really enjoys writing and she did not look at this class as a burden but as an opportunity to better her writing. She talked about Ms. Iatridis many times over the last few weeks. I would definitely recommend this course. We are excited for Alyssa to move onto a new class soon. 

Here is what Alyssa thought:

I loved this class! It is so easy to work through. I really enjoyed each part of the 5 step writing process and I plan to use the same method for my stories. Mrs. Iatridis was amazing to work with. She was patient with me and responded to my questions very quickly. I hope to go through another class soon!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ October 3rd

The Pebble Pond

1. We have a very busy day ahead of us. 2 appointments. One this morning, one this afternoon.

2. I already got my workout in! Go me!

3. My nickname is Randi Lou. Did you already know that?

4. I need to paint my toenails. Right now, only my big toe is holding on to some purple.

5. I really appreciate each and every one of you that read my posts every week. :)

 Want to join us?
Here are the rules. They are simple.
~ Link up your Random 5 on Friday post.
~ Add a link back to me somewhere in your post.
~ Please make sure to put the direct link to your blog post not just your blog. I like to read and comment on all of you but I can not always do it right away and I do not have time to look for it. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SchoolHouse Review ~ Institute for Excellence in Writing

15 minutes for Grammar? Yes, please.

For the last few weeks, I have been reviewing Fix It! Grammar from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Most homeschoolers know IEW well. They are very well known and liked in the homeschooling community. I have had the opportunity to review their amazing products in the past and I was really excited when given this new opportunity.

Fix It! Grammar Review

For this review I was given:
Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood (Book 2) The Student Book ($15)
Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood (Book 2) The Teachers Manual. ($19)

Both books are soft cover and spiral bound. There is a total of 33 week long lessons along with 132 vocabulary words. Each lesson should take about 15 minutes a day, 4 days a week. IEW allows the pages of the student book to be copied. Which is a huge deal to me because I have a handful of munchkins not just one or two.

Fix It! Grammar Review
Each book builds on the book before it but there is a placement test to determine exactly where to start.


There is a total of 6 books offered in this series:
This series is intended for grades 3 and up.

The concept behind this grammar program is that the child will enjoy reading a sentence or two from a classic tale (in our case, Robin Hood) and the student will use real life sentences instead of a page full of grammar exercises. Their thinking is that is will make it easier for the child to actually edit their own work. The program is very relaxed as it teaches clauses and phrases while reviewing parts of speech and punctuation.

The Teachers Manual is very well laid out. There is nothing worse than a confusing teachers manual. It starts out with an introduction that explains the program and how to use it. After that each lesson is explained over 3-5 pages per lesson. Then toward the end of the book is a Fix It! Grammar glossary that breaks down in detail parts of speech, sentences, clauses and phrases, punctuation, additional rules and concepts and stylistic techniques. I found that to be a great resource! Even I get confused sometimes on grammar rules.

The Student Book starts out with a short introduction that explains to the child how to use the book and what is expected each day. It jumps right into the lessons and each weekly lesson is laid out on 2 pages. The first page is the "Learn It" page and the second page is the work, 4 days worth of sentences to correct. Typically, only 1-3 sentences each day. Very simple and to the point. There is a Certificate of Completion after the lessons and the same Fix It! Grammar glossary in the back of the book.

There are also vocabulary words that are scattered throughout the weekly lessons. These are to be looked up and defined by the child and put in their notebook.

I use the program with Alyssa (9th), Carter (6th) and Morgan (6th). Alyssa is a writer at heart and is pretty much ahead when it comes to her grammar but you can never get too much practice. Carter and Morgan were right on track with where this book starts. So it fit us well. I teach the concept and they do the work. Pretty simple.

So what did we think?

We loved it. The kids loved that it was challenging but simple to complete. They sometimes get overwhelmed with pages of repeated grammar exercises. They knew each day they only had a small amount of work to complete so there was no complaining. They also loved that the sentences were from Robin Hood. Who wouldn't, right?

I loved it because...well, its IEW! Really, it was well laid out. Easy to understand. I could teach the concept and they could do the rest. I didn't have to stand over their shoulders the whole time. That's important to me. It was a solid program and I plan to continue using it.


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