Needs, Wants, & Finances – Studying Economics with Boundary Stone

My son will be a junior this fall and has expressed a growing interest in economics. He loves watching YouTube videos that explain supply and demand – particularly in relation to aviation and luxury cars.

Knowing that government and economics are required courses for high school students in Oregon, I was eager to find a curriculum that was both engaging and informative. Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics fit the bill.

This post is sponsored by Boundary Stone. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and a positive review was not required.
As always, I only review products that I find useful and think you will enjoy!

When the kids were younger, we enjoyed listening to the audio book, Smart Money, Smart Kids, by Dave Ramsay. It provided a good starting point and from there we developed a financial plan for our family.

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Earning Commissions

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Developing Entrepreneurs

While Ramsey’s resources provided an introduction to finances – which we circle back to often as things come up – I knew we needed something more. We need the bigger picture of how our family resources fit into the puzzle of global economics.

Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics Course

I selected Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics course. I liked that it offered both an asynchronous / self-paced online course (with embedded videos and quizzes) and a physical textbook (a chronological presentation of information with glossary and index for easy reference).

When you flip through this book you will see no math, and very few graphs. The focus is on ideas.

What’s Included:

  • Basic Economics 4th ed. textbook
  • Student access to online course for full year
  • Student access to Budget mini-course

Basic Economics includes 4 units of study divided into 6 modules. Each module is further subdivided into daily lessons for a total of 79 lessons. Used together with Government, Basic Economics would provide a full year of high school credit.

The course builds on what you should have covered previously in Boundary Stone’s government class.

We did not begin with the government class as we had covered this topic previously but I can see how it would have been beneficial to review. The two courses are offered in a bundle. This makes planning a full year of high school social science courses easy.

Benefits of Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics course

As a Dave Ramsey fan, I loved the term project whereby my son had to prepare two personal monthly budgets. One used a salary of $25,000 and a second used minimum wage. This was an eye opener for him and provided us the opportunity to discuss payroll withholding, housing options, loans, car ownership, insurance, and more.

The Budget Project’s real-life budget project, offered as a free mini-course, is a great balance to the faith-based textbook. It can be used as a stand-alone project. However, using it alongside the online course you will need to account for one day per week in your schedule.

I also like that the course includes a hardbound book. He gets so much screen time as it is. I appreciate that he can read the assigned chapters the “old fashioned” way, in print. I encouraged him to take notes as he read and to use the Getting the Point questions to ensure he understood the concepts. We also went through the review questions at the end of each chapter together so I could stay abreast of his progress.

Boundary Stone also has bundles designed for homeschool co-op teachers. These include multi-print licenses for the government study guide. The economics study guide can be found in the textbook.

Boundary Stone’s homeschool Economics curriculum also incorporates online lessons, videosand outside reading in addition to the textbook (which is lacking in color and photos). This adds that little spice and helps ensure students are engaged.

Tell Me More

Upon purchase, students have access to the online material for 12 months. Students have the freedom to develop a schedule of their own and to work through the course at their own pace. If you follow the suggested syllabus the course can be completed in a single semester. If you go at your own pace, the 12 month window is still generous.

Allowing a student to work at his own pace is important to me. It gives them control over their schedule and allows them a sense of autonomy. The quizzes though are limited by time and can only be completed once. This may be a concern for students that have processing delays.

The online lessons keep track of where he left off which makes it easy to pick it up again the next day or so. Once he has completed everything in the lesson, he marks it complete. When he takes a quiz, an email with his score is emailed to me.

An optional teacher’s guide (including an answer key) is also available as a digital download. It includes lesson plans that are very similar to the layout of the online course, however it lacks the linked articles and embedded videos.  

Using each component will transform the textbook into a comprehensive course, deeply based on both Christian and free-market principles. Boundary Stone’s economics course is based on the premise that our rights come from God. It follows the premise that we have rights, those rights come from God, and we need to protect our God-given rights.

Boundary Stone Giveaway!

If you’re looking for an online economics curriculum for high school, you can’t miss Boundary Stone’s Basic Economics for high school.

Use coupon code StoneReward2020 to receive 15% off all purchases through 8/23/2020.

Multilingual Resources for Kids

I am on the cusp of a new season in my life. This autumn, as my eldest prepares to transfer to the university and move away from home, I will be returning to a brick and mortar classroom full time. I will be working with English Language Learners as the K-12 specialist. As such, I am on a quest to build a multilingual classroom library.

 My students come from all over the world and are a diverse population of students. They speak a variety of native languages such as; Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Palauan, Urdu, and many more!

Today, I highlight a few of my recent multilingual resources that I have discovered. I am excited to share these with my students in a few months.

Multilingual Story Books

Dylan’s Birthday Present

Dylan’s Birthday Present by Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos is an adorable story about a young polygot who desires a pet chicken for his birthday. The illustrations are a delight and children will be drawn into the creative and out-of-the-box story.

Dylan and his best friend, Emma, live in the USA. Both children have parents who came to the United States from foreign countries. The parents speak to their children in different languages. Dylan’s parents speak Portuguese, Ukrainian, and English while Emma’s parents speak to her in Zulu and English. As a result, the two kids became polyglots, people who speak more than a single language.

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

As children enjoy the story, they will identify with the characters, realize that having friends is a good thing, and become inspired to study (realizing that skills acquired by study can be very beneficial), and perhaps learn a new language.

The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse

The Fabulous Lost & Found … series by Mark Pallis and Peter Baynton is another delightful story and it is available in many different languages. I had the pleasure to review the The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse.

The story features a little mouse who enters the Lost & Found. The little mouse speaks only Chinese though and thus the proprietors – Mr. & Mrs. Frog – endeavor to figure out what the mouse is has lost.

There is a special magic about learning words another language and using them: I truly think it warms the heart. ~ Mark Pallis

The target age is 2-7, but my teen daughter enjoyed the story and remarked, “I actually know all the characters!” The unique ‘story-centered’ language learning method combines humor and emotion to gently introduce kids to 50 simple and fun Chinese words and phrases. 

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Multilingual Music

Una Idea Tengo Yo is the latest album by Latin Grammy winners Andrés and Christina – the music duo of 123 Andrés. The eleven songs feature upbeat Spanish language songs that seek to answer a child’s curious questions about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Available in CD or MP3

123 Andrés combine a broad sampling of rhythms and Latin American music genres with familiar tunes. The Farmer in the Dell, for example, becomes El Agua y el Viento with new lyrics to edu-tain children as they learn how water and wind affect the Earth’s topography.

Other STEM topics include the four seasons, outer space, matter, animal habitats, light & sound, and much more. Lyrics and translations are available online.

Frame from video for Diez Perritos

For more bilingual children’s music, check out my earlier post about  José-Luis Orozco.

You can also find their STEM videos on YouTube or visit their website 123 Andrés to see their other releases, including an adorable book Hello Friend, Hola Amigo!

Preparing Your High Schooler for College

Getting into college is the culmination of all a student’s hard work in school. It also requires a well-thought-out plan. My son’s interests and goals for the future are not as clearly defined as were his sister’s. Preparing him for college is a little more complicated.

Throughout his middle school years, I have enjoyed watching him discovering his passions as well as his personal strengths. Homeschooling has allowed him the freedom to pursue his interests and follow meandering paths.

Now that he is in high school, college – if he chooses it – is only a few years away. The self-directed learning skills he learned during the grammar and logic stages will continue to serve him well.

Customizing Your Homeschool

When homeschooling the high school years, there are so many things to keep in mind. Honors courses, electives, GPAs and transcripts … Oh my!

For the past few years, I have focused on helping my daughter prepare for college. She has always known she wanted to pursue a career in engineering. Her courses have thereby always included a lot of math and sciences.

As a dual enrolled student – she has been able to take full advantage of the STEM classes available at the community college. Now that she has been accepted to the university of her choice, my attention shifts to my youngest.

My son’s interests and goals for the future are not as clearly defined as his sister. This takes a more concerned effort on our part to ensure we make choices that will provide the best option for him in the future.

Depending on his career path, college may not even be the best course for him. Currently a sophomore in high school, it is really too early to tell.

Dual Enrollment

Regardless of why he may choose, it is our goal as a family to provide the best platform from which he can launch. We want to ensure he is ready to go in whichever direction he chooses when the time comes.

He is presently considering two very different paths – aviation or music. Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for either where we currently live. We’ve sought out a private teacher for music but there is not a youth orchestra or classical ensemble whereupon he can gain experience playing with others.

Like his sister, he is dual enrolled at the community college. We have even used a similar forecasting plan to help outline the courses he will take at the high school and those he will take at the college.

We chose this avenue because will provide him with a solid foundation in mathematics and English language skills – writing, public speaking, etc. He will be able to fulfill high school graduation requirements while simultaneously completing baccalaureate core or undergraduate courses.

Though aviation courses are not available and even the offerings in the music department has been severely reduced this past year, he has been able to take significant strides towards completing an Associates Degree. In all likelihood he will finish his associates long before earning his diploma.

The dual enrollment approach is not for everyone. It was the best choice for us first and foremost because I knew both kids were mature enough to handle the college atmosphere. We were also able to receive tuition reimbursement from a charter or umbrella school so the financial benefit was huge – essentially two years of college for free.

I received a copy of Homeschool High School with College in Mind by the author, Betsy Sproger, in exchange for an honest review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Preparing for College

When my daughter started high school, Betsy’s book, Homeschooling with College in Mind, provided a great starting place. She shared tips and success stories based on her own experience homeschooling her daughter during these later years.

I am delighted that her book has now been revised and updated just as my son embarks on his own journey. It’s been a great tool as I refresh my approach to homeschooling high school.

While college may not be a consideration for all students, Betsy’s guide is a great start for families homeschooling this final stage of the trivium. Most families find homeschooling these later years to be daunting simply because of the record keeping involved. Betsy provides templates to make these tasks manageable.

She gives tips for handling stress, how to earn credits, and walks readers through the process of creating a transcript. Her ideas for the college application essay and the section on the Common App are especially helpful.

I appreciate that she outlines several ways students can earn credit: the textbook method, the hours method, and the mastery method. We have used a little of each in our homeschool and her guide to translating this onto a transcript is easy to follow.

Homeschooling with College in Mind is available in both paperback and for the Kindle. Her conversational tone provides a relaxed, encouraging approach to the often stressful high school years.

With Betsy as your guide, will feel confident and motivated to continue your homeschooling journey through the high school years and prepare your children for college.

Mastering Mandarin Language with eChineseLearning

Learning a language can be an experience that transforms your life. It provides a competitive edge in career choices and opportunities for personal enrichment through travel and building relationships with new friends.

In our homeschool, my children chose to learn Mandarin Chinese at an early age. It has since become a focus of our curriculum. Recently, my daughter prepared for the Chinese Language and Culture AP exam and now my son has taken on the challenge.

I received access to an eChineseLearning class in exchange for an honest review and I was compensated for my time writing the review. All opinions are my own.

One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to work with a native speaker. A native speaker provides you with the opportunity to learn a variety of useful phrases, sentence structures, vocabulary, and the proper tones. The more you engage with native speakers, the more you learn.

This rule has been proven to be effective for many language learners. I am confident it is the reason my daughter was successful. Finding a native speaker is not always easy, however. Especially if you live in a rural area as we do.

I have picked up a few Chinese phrases over the years. I have always wanted to learn more though. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a short conversation with my kids in their target language?

Learning Mandarin with eChineseLearning

I was delighted to learn of the online lessons available through eChineseLearning. Perhaps now I could begin to learn what the kids are saying when I hear 妈妈 (māmā)?

My first lesson was with Bonnie. It was just like sitting down for a cup of tea in our favorite coffee shop. Meeting for the first time, our conversation focused on getting to know one another as she gently corrected my pronunciation and guided me to express myself.

I had explained in advance that my goal was conversation, it was less important for me to learn how to read the characters as I know I do not have the time to invest. I simply want to be able to chat.

E: 你好。(Nǐ hǎo.)

B: 你好。(Nǐ hǎo.) 你好吗? (Nǐ hǎo ma?)

E: 我很忙,我很好。(Wǒ hěn máng, wǒ hěn hǎo.)

Bonnie pointed out that the conjunction 但 (dàn) would be useful in this situation to join these two sentences together. I listened to her example and repeated,

E: 我很忙,但是我很好。(Wǒ hěn máng, dàn shì wǒ hěn hǎo.)

B: 你是美国⼈吗。(Nǐ shì měiguó rén ma?)

E: 对。(Duì.)

Positives of eChineseLearning

Our lesson continued for thirty minutes though a typical lesson is 50 minutes in total. We took turns using the vocabulary intermittently as either a statement or a question.

She did a great job of allowing the conversation to flow as naturally as possible considering I know very little. She was able to scaffold the lesson and made adjustments to the lesson according to my needs and level of understanding.

As a VIPKID teacher, I am familiar with online language learning. Just as my students have a workbook from which they can study between our online lessons, eChineseLearning provides textbooks. With guidance from the teacher, a study plan is crafted.

Students have the option book their lessons with a favorite or regular teacher but are also encouraged to work with a variety of teachers to develop their listening comprehension skills.

I was very impressed with the quality of the lesson and am excited to continue developing my Chinese language skills.

Negatives of eChineseLearning

While eChineseLearning is good in many ways, it has disadvantages too. All their lessons are conducted with a teacher on a one-on-one basis, so I have to say they are not cheap. It might not be suitable for you if you do not want to spend a lot of money on learning Chinese. However, if you are very serious about learning Chinese and have a strong specific goal, eChineseLearning is definitely worth a shot.

Stay Strong Campaign

eChineseLearning students and teachers send their wishes for people fighting the coronavirus around the world. I was touched when I watched this video – they want everyone to know that we are not alone.

Best wishes for people fighting the coronavirus around the world!

This is a great time to begin language lessons. Currently, eChineseLearning provides three campaign offers:

#1 Not Satisfied with a Lesson? Don’t Pay for It!

If you are not satisfied with a particular lesson and your request is reasonable, eChineseLearning will provide you with a free make-up lesson.

#2 1-Month Free Lessons to Give Away

If you purchase or upgrade a course package during the campaign period, you will get an extra month of lessons (two lessons per week) for FREE.

This offer is valid for new, current and former students.

#3 Refer a Student and Get Two Months Free Lessons and $100 Credit

If you refer a student to eChineseLearning during the campaign period, you will get extra month of FREE lessons on top of the existing rewards (1 month Free lessons plus US$100 credit), which means you get 2 months of FREE lessons and US$100 credit in total.

What are you waiting for? Come join me. ⾛吧! (Zǒu ba!) – Let’s go!

Muévete con José-Luis Orozco: Songs for Healthy Bodies

One of the most enjoyable ways to learn or practice a foreign language is through music. Folk music and children’s artists like José-Luis Orozco are a great place to begin for young language learners.

Although my children are fluent in Mandarin, I myself, am fluent in Spanish. I began my own language journey when I was in high school and I continue to develop my language skills today.

When I was first learning Spanish, one of my class assignments was to memorize the lyrics to La Bamba. I had to work in the evening so I wrote the words out on paper and taped them to the wall where I could see them. As I worked I would look up and read a couple of lines and repeat it to myself several times. I would then add another couple of lines and repeat this process until I had the entire song committed to memory.

The movie, La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips had been released that year and the song was popular on the radio. Having learned it so well in high school, it became my “go to” song at Karaoke a few years later in college.

When the kids were little, we would borrow music CDs from the library featuring artists from the cultures we explored in our geography club.

Getting to Know José-Luis Orozco

One of my favorite children’s musicians is José-Luis Orozco. Born in Mexico City in 1948, Orozco grew fond of music at a young age. He learned many songs from his paternal grandmother.

José-Luis Orozco playing the guitar as he leans under a tree.

I received a copy of Orozco’s new CD, ¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through which I will earn a small commission.

At the age of 8, he became a member of the Mexico City Boy’s Choir. He traveled the world to perform and gained the cultural knowledge he now integrates into his music.  

Orozco moved to California when he was 19 years old and earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He continued his education at the University of San Francisco earning a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education. 

After completing his Master’s program, José-Luis dedicated himself to what he truly enjoys — singing and writing for children. He began performing for children and included bilingual songs in his repertoire even though his audiences were not Spanish speakers.

Award Winning Music & Bilingual Books

In 1971 he signed with Bilingual Media Productions label and released the first of 13 volumes for children, Lirica Infantil: Latin American Children’s Music. The album featured classic songs from Mexican, Central, and South American culture,  including Guantanamera and Los Pollitos. 

He has also written several successful award-winning bilingual books that feature an extraordinary collection of songs, rhymes, tongue twisters, lullabies, and games from various Spanish-speaking countries. His DVD releases feature live action and animation – all celebrating Latino culture.

  • De Colores (Dutton 1994)
  • Diez Deditos (Dutton 1997)
  • Fiestas(Dutton 2002)
  • Cantamos y Aprendemos con José-Luis Orozco (2003)
  • Rin, Rin, Rin…Do, Re, Mi (2009) 

¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

Earlier this month, his latest CD was released, ¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body, produced by Smithsonian Folkways. 

This new album promotes fitness for children. It is the perfect complement to his earlier release, ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, which promotes healthy eating habits.

Amongst the 18 bilingual tracks is Clap, Tap, Tralalá an original song by Orozco, encouraging kids to express themselves through movement and to learn new words.

Caution! His lyrics are catchy! I find myself singing this Clap, Tap, Tralalá as I go about my chores in the house. I know kids will love his music!

5 Great Board Games to Boost Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a very important skill to have for multiple different areas of your life. It will help you at your job, at school, and even in your personal relationships. While there are many different ways to build up your critical thinking skills. One of the most enjoyable and exciting is playing board games.

However, not all board games will boost up your critical thinking skills, despite how fun they might be. So which board games are good for developing critical thinking skills? Without any further ado, today I share 5 great board games to boost the critical thinking of everyone from teens to adults.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through which I will earn a small commission. Reviews are done based on my own opinions of the quality of the products. All opinions are my own.

Dungeons and Dragons

While more of a tabletop game than a board game, Dungeons and Dragons definitely can help improve your critical thinking. It is a game all about crafting your character and working through your own adventure with your friends.

My daughter loves D&D! She explains, “I like being able to experience the fictional words I always dream about, creating unique characters, trying things out, and experiencing the repercussions of my decisions. It’s also fun!”

I think the role playing aspect is large part of the attraction. My daughter really gets into the game when she plays and even uses uniques voices for her characters. She has journals full of character sketches and notes on their abilities.

By rolling dice, the game throws numerous different problems and roadblocks at you, and you will need to decide upon the right action incredibly quickly. The game can help you make the right decision at high speeds, and also helps you think outside the box. It allows for a ton of creativity as well.

The game is easy to get started with as long as you have some friends and a set of dice. Dungeons and Dragons can be made even more exciting by purchasing fun accessories like game mats, dice trays, game master screens, and mini-figures. If you’re in the market for some colorful and unique dice for your Dungeons and Dragons journey, consider checking out D20 collective. I’m partial to the Druidic Dreams color scheme shown here.

Settlers of Catan

Catan is a wildly popular game that is played by tens of millions of people regularly. The game starts you off with a couple of roads and settlements, and you need to build that up to a whole civilization. Using a roll of the dice, you will eventually get the materials required to build your settlement.

The game is incredibly fun and rewarding, but can really test and improve your critical thinking. You need to always be aware of how many resources you have, the best ways to use them and whether there are any trades worth making. You need to come up with a strategy for how you’ll build the best civilization, while also making assumptions about the goals of others.

There are many versions available of Settlers of Catan including expansion sets, card games, and dice games (pictured above) .

Chess

Dating back hundreds of years, chess is one of the quintessential board games when you think of critical thinking. The game is played by two people, with the ultimate goal being to take out the opponent’s king piece. Each piece in chess can be moved a certain way and is unique from the other pieces on the board.

There are thousands of different moves that can be made and strategies that can be used. Chess relies a lot on using your mind, applying critical thinking skills. You need to think of the best and most optimal strategy for yourself. Using concentration, logical thinking, and focusing on the potential moves your opponent could make in response to what you do.

While there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to first playing the game, once you know the rules, it becomes easy. Chess is also great as it can be played by anyone, no matter your age or background.

For more critical thinking games, check out Hnefatafl and Kübb, two Norwegian games.

Mastermind

With a name like Mastermind, you just know that this game will be able to help boost your critical thinking. It is a game about breaking a code where one person creates a code, and the other tries to eventually break it over time. This takes a lot of critical thinking, deductive reasoning and helps to utilize and build up these skills.

There are well over 1,000 different patterns of colored pegs that could be chosen by the code maker, and the codebreaker has to start from nothing and use their critical thinking and reasoning to eventually decipher it. You need to think about not only choosing the right colors, but also eliminating the wrong ones on your journey to breaking the code.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is without a doubt, one of the most exciting games on the market and is also one that challenges you to think critically. The goal of the game is to connect train cars and fill railways across the map, trying to make links between specific places. The game is all about using logic and strategy to successfully build your connections, while also preventing others from doing the same.

Ticket to Ride is one of my family’s favorite games. We actually own three different versions – Asia, Nordic Countries, and Europe (including the expansion, 1912). In my post, Board Games & Fun, I share more of our favorites.

Ticket to Ride is a game with very simple rules, but can be played and won in several different ways. Some people might try to fill the largest railways possible to score points. Others will spend their game trying to stifle other people’s plans and focus on building smaller train connections. You have a lot of options and with numerous ways to connect different routes. You are free to play the game how you want.

In conclusion, these board games are great ways to not only have fun, but also boost critical thinking. What are your family’s favorite games?