Becoming World War II Time Travelers with Home School in the Woods

We traveled to Washington, D.C. a couple years ago and while there, visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum. We took our time in the exhibit halls to absorb the messages communicated through the artifacts and stories. Later that evening as we processed what we had seen, the kids recalled visiting Norway’s World War II Resistance Museum in Oslo many years prior. 

Their continued questions and maturity have now convinced me it was time to look into World War II in more depth. As any parent or teacher can tell you, nothing engages a child in the learning experience like hands-on activities. Home School in the WoodsAmerica in World War II (from the Time Travelers series) provides the perfect resource. 

Teen using Home School in the Woods' timeline figures and notebook to create a visual timeline of World War II
I received access to this product in exchange for a review. I was compensated for my time and was not required to make a positive review.

Time Travelers: America in World War II

The CD includes 25 lessons that cover Hitler and the Nazi party, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the war in the Pacific and Africa, battles and conflicts across the European continent, and so much more. After looking over the material, we decided it was a topic interesting enough and the materials extensive enough to make it into a year long history study. 

Timelines and maps provide the “when” and “where” while 3-dimensional projects, drama or history dress-up, cooking, and living books transport us back through time. These hands-on activities bring history to life for students and engage them in meaningful learning. 

Bring history to life by coordinating a living history museum for students.  Portrayed here are Irena Sendler and Arnold Mærsk McKinney Møller.

There is also a supplement page full of recommended books, videos, audio files, and more to explore the subject to its fullest potential. There are so many enrichment activities, I know we will have a rich and varied unit study all through the coming year. 

WW2 History Timeline Projects & Schedule

Like all the titles in the Time Travelers U.S. History series, a calendar style overview of all 25 lesson plans is provided that lists the activities and projects for each. We decide how frequently a lesson is introduced and how deep we explore each topic. We can do a lesson a day (choosing minimal projects) or a lesson a week (choosing a different project each day). The schedule is very flexible.

The project pages and activities for each lesson vary according to topic but all lessons include penmanship practice, figures for a timeline, and a short writing assignment (newspaper style article). Other project masters include maps, songs, recipes, and historical facts such as culture and people. 

Teen using Home School in the Woods' blackline maps to geographically depict the battles of of World War II
Using blackline maps from Home School in the Woods to visualize the War in the Pacific

Our favorite activities include the timeline and maps which allow us to visualize the expansion of German and Japanese power over the course of the war. Conflicts through battles, conquests, and attacks are displayed clearly and concisely.

It was refreshing to find a unit of study that went into great depth without feeling like we were just skimming the surface. The format also encourages children to explore deeper the parts in which they are most interested. 

The material is well written and affordable. However, I must admit it can be a little confusing at first to organize and print out what you need. It just took a little time to familiarize myself with how everything was organized. Access to a printer and ink is certainly a must, too.  

The US History Time Traveler series has many different historical eras to choose. Other great products include our favorite timeline trio which includes the “Record of Time” timeline notebook (we’ve been using it since my kiddos were in grade school) and Project Passport for world geography studies.

Join their educational community and get a free unit study on famous authors, too!

An Ultimate Giveaway

Enter the giveaway today! This is one you don’t want to miss. One very lucky winner will receive The ENTIRE COLLECTION of both Project Passport (5) and Time Traveler (7) products—$311.90 VALUE! The winner can be anywhere in the world because this is a digital product. 

Using Teaching Textbooks for SAT Prep

My daughter plans to take the SAT exam this summer. However, she feels that she is rusty and needs to brush up on her math skills. We thereby wanted to an SAT prep course to freshen her memory on concepts taught in algebra and pre-calculus.

As most of my readers know, my kids are dual enrolled at the local community college. I thereby spend more time in the role of chauffeur than as teacher. In fact, I do very little direct instruction with either of them anymore.

My daughter has been taking courses full time at the college for two years now and has just completed the first year calculus course. She has done very well and this fall, she will begin tutoring.

It was thereby a surprise when her first SAT scores came back last year. She took the exam twice (once in the fall and again in spring) and yet her math score remained the same. Though she surpassed the benchmark, she didn’t feel it was a true reflection of her ability. After all, math is her favorite subject (next to foreign languages) and she excels in the classroom.

She has thereby challenged herself to take the SAT a third time at the end of the summer. In order to brush up on the skills tested on the SAT, she wanted an SAT prep online program she could use at her pace – to set her own schedule and course plan to help her review and practice. Teaching Textbooks is a math curriculum designed for independent learners – perfect for her! Best of all, the first 15 lessons of any level are free. Try one level or every level with no obligation with this link, Teaching Textbooks.

I received access to this product in exchange for a review. I was compensated for my time and was not required to make a positive review.

Homeschool SAT Prep

One of the main features of Teaching Textbooks is that it provides step-by-step explanations for every single problem in a multimedia form. The lessons are written directly to the student and do not assume the presence of a teacher.

Students can thereby work through the material independently in just three easy steps: watch the video tutorial, do the practice problems, and if you error, an audio tutor explanations the solutions.  The explanations are clear and complete and plenty of practical examples are provided throughout the curricula.

The program is very easy to use. Teaching Textbooks is a particularly good choice for the student who might have struggled with other math programs and needs a less pressured pace and style of delivery. While my daughter does not struggle, she likes that she can move along at her own pace and even skip sections when she is comfortable with the material.

Though it is not considered a specific SAT prep course aimed at testing strategies and SAT question format, it provides practice with the content of high school level coursework. We opted for Pre-Calculus but the high school courses also include Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.

Her test isn’t until the end of August so we do not yet know her newest score. However, she is enjoying the program and has expressed that she feels more confident.

At the college, she has alternated between two professors and had become accustomed to their word choice and approach. She states that the vocabulary and the specific wording of the problems in Teaching Textbooks has challenged her to more carefully analyze each question. It has also given her practice with another approach to solving each problem.

Regardless of what her score may reflect, her comfort with the material is what is important. As a tutor, this flexibility and confidence will serve her well.

Online Learning Improved

Teaching Textbooks now works a little differently than previous 2.0 versions. The academic content is the same as always but the course is now delivered online as a 12-month subscription. Also, physical books have been replaced by eBooks. No more discs!

The 3.0 version of Teaching Textbooks course material is easy to access from computers, tablets, or phones. This makes it easy to access from anywhere! If you prefer a more traditional textbook, an electronic textbook is available and includes a printing option.

Because all of the content in 3.0 is available online, the price is significantly lower. With 3.0, you purchase a yearly (12-month) subscription for one child and one course. Large-family discounts (for families with four to eight students) are also available.

Teaching Textbooks Giveaway

You can find placement tests on the publisher’s website to guide you in selecting the appropriate course. The series is a college prep curriculum though it is not as rigorous as some other courses.

NOTE: The Free trial does not require a credit card and does work for the first 15 lessons with no time limit. You may try any level or all of the levels.

Because we were using the course to review for the SAT exam, we were not concerned with the grading options. However, I was intrigued to discover that grades can be accessed anytime from anywhere (even after a subscription has ended).

CTCMath & College Prep

My son started dual enrollment at the community college this past fall. The assessment test placed him in Intermediate Algebra. I felt confidant that all would be well – after all, his sister had forged the same trail two years prior.

Things didn’t go quite as planned however. He struggled to manage his time well and follow through on the homework. We thereby decided that he should repeat the course. He improved the second term, particularly in the latter part of the term.

This term, however, the instructor he wanted to take was not teaching the next course. He thereby opted to wait until Fall. Yet, I wasn’t comfortable skipping two terms of instruction time for fear he would slip back after the gains he has made.

I received access to this product in exchange for a review. I was compensated for my time and was not required to make a positive review.

Teen boy using CTCMath online math program with text overlay CTCMath & College Prep

CTCMath College Prep

When I discovered CTCMath I was immediately intrigued. I loved that the concepts were introduced with video tutorials. My son is a visual learner and excels when material is presented in this way.

CTCMath video tutorials are perfect because as my son puts it, “They are S cubed!” Simple – there is no gimmick designed to entertain which he finds annoying (let’s be honest, he often finds ME annoying!), Short – each video ranges between 4 to 9 minutes, andStep-by-Step – the problem solving method is explained succinctly and clearly.

The CTCMath video tutorials also use synchronized audio and animation which harnesses both audio and visual learning styles simultaneously.

He especially likes to skip forward or speed through the concepts he understands. Often, he’ll jump right to the practice problems and only refer back to the videos when he gets stuck.

We have been using CTCMath for a short time and I’m already seeing his confidence grow. Thus far, he has been skipping around and trying out concepts that he is both familiar with (polynomials and simplifying equations) and even challenging himself with higher trigonometry concepts.

Parental Support within CTCMath

I also like the detailed summary report that is provided. It’s broken down by course and can also be download as a PDF if, for example, I needed to provided documentation to a learning partner or charter school.

I like that there is also an optional worksheet that he can download and print out for extra practice. Upon entering his answers into the online portal, the solutions are shown to help him identify where he went wrong.

My son was interested in the Speed Skills activities. Unfortunately, these skills do not exceed level four, order of operations. As he played around with this, he decided it wasn’t as useful as he had hoped.

As we continue to progress, I am excited to try out the tasks (where I can assign specific problem sets). I want him to review concepts he struggled with previously and then also begin to work through the material he will encounter in the college course this fall. I am confident that his confidence will continue to grow and he will rediscover the joy of math he had in elementary school.

Want to try CTCMath in your homeschool?

If you have multiple children or simply want a budget friendly curriculum, CTCMath is perfect! As a homeschooler, you can receive a massive 60% discount off of the regular price.

Better yet, if you purchase any 12 Month Membership and receive a bonus 6 months for FREE! That’s a total of 18 months of online math instruction for under $7 a month!

Purchase a 12 Month Membership Here

Still not convinced? You can test CTCMath before purchasing. Simply sign up for the FREE CTCMath trial and check it out before you commit.

CTCMath Giveaway!

Right now, CTCMath is also doing a giveaway! One lucky family will have a chance to win a free one year membership for their homeschool. You can enter below. Best of luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Typesy Homeschool Typing for the Win!

I have vivid memories of sitting in front of an electric typewriter in a room with 36 of my peers typing as rapidly as we could, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy moon.” The clack clack clackety hum of the keys would inevitably cause me to develop a mild headache by the end of the class.

I remember asking my parents for a typewriter for Christmas. My parents didn’t see the value of a computer at the time but agreed. As a college student, I would be expected to write many papers and a typewriter would be a tremendous help.

Image of two teens using the Typesy Homeschool Typing program

By the time I chose to homeschool my own children, the presence of a computer and keyboard was common place. It seems they have grown up typing – composing short essays and writing emails to Grandma and Papa. Though they are familiar with the key placement, they have not had formal typing lessons since primary school.

Both teens are now dual-enrolled at the local community college and like myself, they are expected to write a significant number of essays and research papers. When my son claimed he could type faster than me, I took him on. While he is in fact faster, his accuracy is less impressive. I knew it was time to dedicate time to improving our typing skills.

Our family received access to the Typesy Homeschool Program in exchange for our honest review, and I was compensated for my time writing the review. All opinions are our honest thoughts and we have been using the program during our school time. Please see our disclosure policy

What I Love About Typesy Homeschool Typing Program

Cloud-based Program

I love that Typesy is an online program – everything is stored in the cloud and thereby we can log in from anywhere and automatically stay in sync. You do not have to download anything. We can begin training on our desktop at home and continue with lessons when we travel. Students have access to the same account, results, and course content no matter where they are physically located.

Individual Instruction

Typesy can also be used by multiple children – each at their own level. The lessons are adapted for each child; adapting to their individual needs. If a student is struggling with particular letter sequences, these will be repeated. The level of difficulty within the games will also adjust based on student progress.

image of a teen boy practicing typing skills with Typesy Homeschool Typing programThere are over 375 lessons broken into units that focus on specific areas of the keyboard (home row, top row, bottom row, shift keys, punctuations, numbers, and symbols) and many games.

With this program, students have the option to take the typing courses to learn proper fingering and key placement or play games to increase speed and accuracy. The games keep it interesting while the progressively challenging lessons ensure skills are taught correctly.

screen schot of Typesy Homeschool Typing Program

Each of the study units includes a step-by-step video , effective exercises, and fun games. Proper hand positioning is demonstrated and the keyboard strokes are explained – for visual learners, this is huge! I haven’t seen another program that provides this.

Goal Setting

While my teens are independent learners, I still find that I need to check in occasionally and encourage them to stay focused (particularly my son).  I love that I can schedule or assign lessons and keep track of their progress. I can even set word per minute goals and accuracy goals for each child.

Progress Reports

With Typesy Homeschool Edition’s admin accounts, parents can easily see student progress and print reports. Individual students can also see their own progress on their account pages. The stats page shows students several graphs: Typing Competency, Typing Speed, and Typing Accuracy.

screen shot of Typesy Homeschool Typing ProgramThe student dashboard also gives students their current typing speed and accuracy levels, thirty day progress, and their current level. There is even a “Hall of Fame” that lists the top fifty Typesy Homeschool Edition students based on points. If your child is like my son and thrives on competition, this is really great.

Well-Organized and Teen Friendly

I am grateful to have Typesy available for my teens. The lessons are very well organized and thorough – focusing on teaching accurate skills. This is a huge help for us homeschool moms who juggle so much. It is nice to know this skill is covered.

My daughter appreciates that the program is clean and that there are no cutesy graphics to distract from the material. “It’s not babyish and boring like most typing games,” she stated.

Typesy Package Details 

It only takes a few minutes to get started with Typesy. They have several different plans from small family (up to four users), large family (up to ten users), or even co-op! Each subscription also includes accounts for two or three parent-teacher admins.

Perhaps best of all, the entire site is 100% ad free and the subscription package is good for FIVE YEARS! 

I definitely recommend Typesy Homeschool if you are looking for a typing program. Visit Typesy to get started with the best keyboarding program today!  I plan to continue using it myself, also. Maybe I can even surpass my high school PR.

 

 

Tim Tim Tom Bilingual Books Teach Languages the FUN Way!

My children have been learning Mandarin since they were each five years old. We have been fortunate in that they have had the opportunity to work with a native speaker since the beginning. As a learning partner, I am always looking for resources to augment their language studies.

Image of a child reading a bilingual bookI especially love bilingual story books that provide them with rich text and an immersive storyline. While my own children are now teens and are more selective of their reading material, children’s books still provide a great way for them to practice reading in their target language.

Our Mandarin tutor has a family of his own now and we have enjoyed getting to know his daughter as we’ve continued our own language studies. When the opportunity arose to review the new bilingual books from Tim Tim Tom, I immediately thought of her.

Image of a child reading a bilingual bookI was most intrigued that the bilingual stories from Tim Tim Tom allowed for personalization. Not only is the text in the language of choice, but so is the character. I was able to customize the little girl in the story to look much like the little girl in my heart!

I had the book shipped directly to her and added a personal dedication to her in both languages. Her father shared with me that he read it with her when it arrived and that she looked at it herself throughout the day. “This girl is me! I just like Auntie Eva. She’s so nice.”

image of bilingual book covers labeling title and author Tim Tim Tom Publishing

Presently, they have three books (or adventures) currently available, each in either one or two languages of your choice.  You can simply order the book that you think you or your child might have the strongest connection.  As a volunteer at our local marine life center, my personal favorite is the underwater adventure so I chose it for my niece.

The ordering process is super easy. First, you choose the language or languages. I was then able to choose the name and the look of the main character as well as write a personal dedication.

As my niece is herself learning both Mandarin and English, I selected the dual-language option. Currently they offer the stories in TEN languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese (Simplified or Traditional). You can choose any two of these to appear in your chosen book.

An illustrated image of children reading a book - the 2019 poster image for Multicultural Children's Book DayMulticultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year. It was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board! View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors as well as our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event.

Collage image of each of the Multicultural Children's Book Day Co-Host Team

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, and Spanish Playground

Twitter Party

Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. They are giving away TONS of prizes and book bundles during the party.

Resources from MCBD

Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Using Film to Teach Animal Conservation: Elephant Poaching

My children and I have long been advocates for animals, the community, and the environment. When the kids were younger we were actively involved in Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programs – undertaking a variety of animal conservation projects. Now as teens, we have turned our attention to scouting but the emphasis on conservation is still a major focus of our activities.

image of an adult African elephant on the savanna with text Using Film to Teach Animal Conservation: Elephant Poaching @EvaVarga.net

I was given an opportunity to preview this film for free before it’s release date and am being compensated for my time in preparing this post.
As always, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate advertisement links to 3rd party sites.

As a family, travel is also very important to us. We have traveled to China, Peru, Ecuador, the Galápagos islands, and several countries in Europe.  Through each of these experiences, sustainable agriculture and trade practices are discussed. Presently, we are preparing for a holiday in Thailand later this year and we are carefully reviewing the numerous companies that cater to tourists – of particular concern are companies that advertise elephant rides or shows. Bafflingly, the nation has yet to implement laws to protect its captive elephant population. It is a complex issue.

There are thought to be fewer than 5000 elephants left in Thailand, yet a whopping 4000 of them are captive. Following Thailand’s 1989 ban on using elephants for logging, many mahouts claim that without charging tourists for rides and shows, they and their animals would starve – elephants cost a minimum of 1000B per day to feed properly.

In addition to the ban on elephant logging, the trade of ivory from elephant tusks has also been banned since 1989. However, the demand continues in many countries. Since a third of the elephant’s tusk is embedded in its head, poachers kill the animals in order to harvest the ivory. Unfortunately, studies have shown that many consumers do not realize this. Raising awareness is a huge step to help combat poaching and to ensure the survival of elephants.

Natural History of Elephants

Elephants have been part of human culture for thousands of years and are similar to us in many ways. They live in large, complex social families who communicate and interact daily. They are intelligent, having the largest brain of all terrestrial animals today.

Elephants benefit their ecosystem by fertilizing the soil with their dung, digging water holes which benefit themselves and other wildlife, and by creating paths through the landscape as they travel. As elephant and human populations grown, conflict for resources is on the rise. People will need to make important conservation decisions about elephants to ensure their future.

One of the major concerns of the ivory trade is the alarming changes in the behavior of African elephants. Those on the front lines studying elephant behavior witness the alarming effect poaching has had on the elephants that survive – scientists agree that survivors of poaching are stressed.

Their fears can disrupt the elephants’ complex matriarchal social structure, reduce their success in breeding, and increase their antagonism toward humans. Elephants mourn their deceased companions, demonstrating rituals that include touching the remains and carrying the deceased elephant’s bones or tusks with them.

movie poster for Phoenix Wilder: And the Great Elephant AdventureAnimal Conservation Lessons

Teaching children about threats to wildlife and animal conservation is not easy. Thought must be given to the age of the child as well as their individual disposition.

To introduce young children to poaching, you can start with a family movie night to teach about elephant poaching. Phoenix Wilder: and The Great Elephant Adventure is an excellent place to start as it is aimed at young children, introducing the subject in a gentle manner.

The film stars Sam Ash Arnold as Phoenix and Elizabeth Hurley as Aunt Sarah. It was written, directed, and produced by Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer Richard Boddington (of Against the Wilds films).

My children and I enjoyed watching the film recently and it provided a great tie-in to our upcoming holiday. We particularly enjoyed the cinematography of the film and interview at the end with Dr. Richard Leakey, the second of the three sons of the archaeologists Louis Leakey (Jane Goodall’s mentor) and Mary Leakey.

Get Involved

After a family discussion, lessons and activities can be introduced to broaden the child’s understanding of elephant poaching. Young children can create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast Asian and African elephants and create posters to teach others about the ecological importance of elephants. Older students can debate poaching and wildlife conservation laws and create advocacy posters to raise awareness.

  • Instead of gifts, ask guests to donate to the International Elephant Foundation for the holidays or your birthday.
  • “Adopt” and elephant through an conservation organization or your local accredited zoo where your funds help protect elephants and their homes worldwide
  • Choose jewelry or souvenirs made from the Tagua nut – a great alternative – instead of ivory.
  • Write a letter to elected officials urging them to support animal conservation and a ban on ivory.
  • Have a sustainable palm-oil free bake sale to raise awareness and donate funds to a conservation group.

Seek out curriculum and materials in conservation biology, ecology, and natural resource management to further your study of elephants and animal conservation issues. Here are a few links I have gathered with free resources to help you get started:

Watch Phoenix Wilder: And the Great Elephant Adventure

Phoenix Wilder, And The Great Elephant Adventure will be released in theaters nationwide on April 16,  2018, at 6 p.m. local time, which also happens to be World Elephant Day.

To find out which theater nearest you will have the film, enter your zip code at this website. Then, pre-order your tickets for easy  film-going.

Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure Trailer from Richard DC Boddington on Vimeo.

Win 5 Tickets for Your Family 

Enter to win 5 tickets to see Phoenix Wilder: And the Great Elephant Adventure on April 16th, 2018 in a theater near you. 20 winners will get 5 passes to see the movie at closest theater to them. The giveaway begins 03/11/2018 10:00 pm and ends 03/28/2018 03:00 am. Follow the instructions on the widget below to enter for your chance to win.