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Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Fischertechnik E-Tronic Review: Easy STEM Elective for Middle/High School

STEM education has been firmly in the spotlight for a long time now, with no signs of wavering. Learning materials promising to infuse science, technology, engineering and math into your homeschool are everywhere. But without actually opening the box and trying the products, it can be hard to know if pre-packaged STEM projects are truly worthwhile, or if they’re just really expensive toys masquerading as educational. Let’s take a look at one popular STEM toy and see if it’s worth the hype.

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Did the Pandemic Increase Speech Delays? (plus, Board Books for Speech Therapy)

Did the pandemic increase speech delays? Some researchers say yes.

According to several recent studies, pandemic-era children are talking less than their predecessors1. As a parent to a pandemic toddler — Lochlan turned six months old in March 2020 — this concerns me deeply.

I’m not an expert in speech pathology, but some data seems to show both a measurable uptick in referrals to speech therapy2 and “a decline in verbal functioning”.1 One starts to wonder if maybe the kids are not okay3 in our current pandemic-response environment. (Researchers in at least one study indicated “factors related to the pandemic had ‘by far the greatest impact on infant and toddler neurodevelopment.'”1

It’s easy to feel helpless when the the broader global situation remains so complex and convoluted. But there is an immediately actionable response in our grasp: read books aloud, and talk to our kids!

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Poetry & Words, Theology

When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.

When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.

They didn’t tell you that, because it was a corner of the world you’re not supposed to understand, and they don’t tell you how to become a writer, either. Everyone is supposed to become a reader — they tell you that in school — but it remains a mystery how some readers are able to metamorphose into writers.

After all, the writer concerns himself with not just the reason why civilizations fall, but also the American supermarket, the meaning in dappled bananas on the counter at sunrise, the effervescence of this present moment, and using words incorrectly.

No one teaches you how to be writer, except maybe poets and historians.

Continue reading “When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.”
Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Pre-K at home with good books and hands-on lessons

Homeschoolers are opinionated when it comes to early childhood education. All you have to do is mention preschool or pre-kindergarten in a room full of homeschool moms, and you’ll instantly find yourself the recipient of a ton of free advice — whether or not you want it.

One of the most common bits of advice is to let kids play.

But have you ever stopped to ask, what is play?

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight’s US History Curriculum: Review & NEW HBL D Updates

[Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 package, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product.  All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

If there’s one thing I’ve excelled at in our homeschool, it’s procrastinating over choosing a US History curriculum.

As a third-culture missionary kid born abroad, teaching US history has never come naturally to me. When I was young, American history seemed worlds away, and even as an adult, I often still feel like an outsider.

I have zero patience for dry legalist curriculum which holds the Founding Fathers on faultless pedestals, doesn’t consider both sides of a story, and ignores the sorrowful brokenness of our nation’s foundations. (Second-generation homeschoolers, you know what I’m talking about!)

But I knew my own kids couldn’t just skip learning the complicated history of our nation. Eventually, we had to dive in. Having spent my early childhood years in a socialist republic without the freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, I’ve learned that no matter how complex US history is to navigate, we must never take such invaluable freedoms for granted. So I needed to find a complete American history curriculum, especially after my own previous unsuccessful attempts to piece together a literature-based US history course always fizzled out.

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Theology

Resurrection

This spring, both Western Easter and Eastern Pascha are marked on my calendar — a week apart, a world apart, yet united as one. It’s fitting. I’ve always had one foot here and one there, floating as it were between the culture of my passport and the culture in which I was raised.

I bought a little green book of ancient Christian writings, and have been slowly reading through the dancing words as the seasons ebb and flow.

And this green book, on the page marked Resurrection, these words penned between 347 and 407 AD jumped out at me–

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Book Review: Middle-grade Novel Bronze & Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan

In your quest to add own-voices literature to your homeschool, don’t overlook translated novels! Translated books don’t try overly hard to be diverse, they simply are.

Written in Chinese by children’s author Cao Wenxuan, Bronze and Sunflower follows the two title characters through a summer in a rural village in China in the 1960s, shortly after Chairman Mao established agricultural labor camps during the Cultural Revolution.

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Book Review: Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine

When the news starting tumbling through the airwaves, the literary homeschool groups on Facebook were flooded with posts from moms asking for picture books to help their kids understand Ukraine. Yet very few were asking for reading material which would help them, as adults, make sense of the news’ garbled deluge of information about Ukraine.

While I understand the immediate desire to help guide kids through the tangled web of current events, the lack of curiosity from adults made me a little bit sad. Maybe this comes from having spent my early childhood in a place no one has ever heard of (“the former Yugo-what?”) Maybe I’m just a Slavic history nerd — after all, I’m of Slavic descent and already had Borderland on my shelves. But wouldn’t it help if we asked more questions? Wouldn’t it go a long way if we, as parents, at least tried to educate ourselves along the way as we educate our kids?

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