Volume 5 Issue 5
by Cathy Duffy
This is one of the most interesting and practical books Iíve come across in a long time. The goal is to teach our children to become better communicators. Much of the emphasis is upon written forms of communication, but it includes oral, artistic, and dramatic forms of communication. The beauty of this book is that Sandra Garant finds ways to easily incorporate communication activities into everyday life so that children learn the value and importance of developing these skills. I love the way she brings creativity to some of the simplest tasks like making signs and lists. She makes important observation regarding how valuable purposefulness is in encouraging children to write. So she has her children communicate in writing many times when most of us would settle for oral communication: writing scripts for the answering machine, making a sign to remind family members when it is safe to let the dog out into the backyard, and writing out directions to your house to post near the phone for children who need to pass that information on to visitors.
Communication includes learning how to take phone messages, how to call and ask for information, creating cards with written or drawn messages, creating video presentations, and albums.
Ideas address needs from beginning writers to adults. Examples of ideas for older children are writing their own tests, creating instruction aids, doing community presentations, and writing action letters. Many of Sandraís ideas are brilliant for getting older, non-writers motivated (see pp. 8-9). She also gives suggestions for incorporating grammar into writing activities informally.
While Sandra writes from her Catholic perspective, including some examples that relate to their religious activities, this book would be great for all families. It functions primarily as a resource book for parents, although toward the end, many of the chapters are written directly to students. (Thereís some inconsistency on this.)
I canít imagine any family that canít use at least some of these ideas to make writing more purposeful and fun.
Catholic Heritage Curricula
PO Box 125
Twain Harte, CA 95383-0125
(800) 490-7713 orders or catalog requests only
(209) 928-4007 information
Homeschooling by Heart: A Momís Road Map for Making It All Work
by Kristina Sabalis Krulikas
Kristina helps us develop a practical homeschooling lifestyle as she addresses goal setting, family relationships, child training, developing your own "community," organization, schedules, meal planning, chores, budgets, curriculum planning, educational philosophy and methods, and what to do with the toddlers. She uses a breezy, conversational style, frequently posing questions for us to consider, and, sometimes, providing space for us to write our own thoughts and conclusions. Helpful charts and forms at the ends of many chapters serve as tools to help us plan, organize, or track progress and information. Kristina gently urges us toward a more relaxed, eclectic approach to academics while urging our attention toward child training, character issues, relationships, and household functioning as being foundational to successful homeschooling. I really appreciate her balanced and encouraging presentation.
1264 Alhambra Dr.
Fort Myers, FL 33901
With Art in Mind: A Collection of 60 Art Lessons
by Patricia Parker Groebner
Written for students ages 8-13, this book functions as a teacherís guide for art activities. It is very strong on creativity and work with various art media. Lessons are keyed to show which are appropriate for three different levels, but all lessons will stretch to cover at least two of the levels, and I suspect many lessons would appeal to high school students. The author presents tips for teaching that make this book practical for the parent with no art background. The book is very flexible--you can use lessons in sequence or skip around as you please.
Lessons are divided by types of media: black markers and drawing ink, chalks and pastels, colored markers and crayons, pencils and colored pencils, cut or torn paper, tempera, and watercolor. Iíve reviewed many art programs, but I was surprised to find so many new ideas here that I hadnít come across before in any other programs. While she covers some basic drawing skills like perspective and enlarging using a grid, you will probably want to address drawing skills further in a separate course.
The lessons do require different art media, but these are fairly basic items that should be easy to find at reasonable cost. The author suggests alternatives in some instances. She adds helpful tips like adding liquid dishwashing soap to tempera for easier use and easier clean up.
Although written for the classroom, this book probably will work even better for homeschoolers since many of the activities require adult supervision or assistance, e.g., melting crayon pieces in an electric frying pan, working with bleach. (The bleach activities are great, but I would highly recommend they be done outdoors, keeping bleach containers as far as is practical from children as they work because of danger from the fumes.)
The book is illustrated with full-color examples for each activity, but this is not a regimented program. It canít help but spark artistic creativity as children become familiar with the various media and develop their skills. [no Christian content]
Bob Jones University Press
Greenville, SC 29614
Engaging Young Minds Series
A new competitor in the novel study guide market, Anvil Press offers Engaging Young Minds guides for studying five novels thus far. These guides encompass reading comprehension and response, literary analysis, vocabulary, Scriptural applications, and a variety of projects. Suggested for students in grades five and up, they were written specifically for homeschoolers. These books tend to have more instructional background material interjected from time to time than we find in Progeny Press guides. Overall, the Anvil Press guides require quite a bit of thinking, research, and analysis. For example, in the Guide to Cheaper by the Dozen, a question asks: "In I Corinthians 15:26, God calls death His enemy. How do the occurrences of chapter 19 illustrate that death is an enemy of God?" (p.33). Guides are divided into sections covering a few chapters. Projects are suggested for use in conjunction with each section. These range widely, including ideas such as research, writing, video viewing, dramatic readings, web research, creating posters, and doing a cost analysis.
There are different authors for some of the guides, so they vary somewhat in format and presentation depending upon the guideís author and the nature of the book being studied. Answer keys are included at the back of each guide.
Thus far, guides are available for Cheaper by the Dozen, The Cay, The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, Warriors Donít Cry, and Summer of the Monkeys. Many more are under development.