Monday, March 2, 2015

Middle School Monday - Highlights

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Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! Things have been going pretty well for my middle schooler lately. She is working hard on all her subjects - even Math! - so I feel optimistic about the second semester, even though we've taken several breaks this winter. Unintended breaks as well as the scheduled ones! The only subject we've left alone lately is Science, and I don't think we'll have any trouble catching up there either. I'm planning for us to get back to work at Science today, in fact.

This week I'm highlighting some of the articles that have been linked here at Middle School Monday since I started the link-up.

President's Day is past, but these President's Day resources at FinchNWren would be useful for American history studies any time of year. Wren also shared a review of Fascinating Chemistry, which looks like a great science program for middle schoolers!
Fascinating Education Review by FINCHNWREN #homeschool #science

You can find other ideas for American history at the Presidents Day Resources round-up at the Schoolhouse Crew blog.
Presidents Day Resources

Preparing to Homeschool 9th Grade is a series at I Choose Joy - Here's the first post: The How-To Book, which tells about a helpful book by Lee Binz called How to Homeschool 9th and 10th Grade. Follow the rest of the series as well, as Gena shares how she is planning and preparing for her student's high school years.
Preparing to Homeschool 9th Grade- The How-To Book |

Winter isn't quite over, so you may want to check out the Winter Chapter Book List at This Sweet Life. Tara includes a free printable reading log as well.
Winter Chapter Books with Free Printable Reading Log | This Sweet Life

See some beautiful artwork at Gentle Joy Homemaker - A Difficult Drawing Assignment

Stacie at Super Mommy to the Rescue gives a great overview of North Star Geography. Learn more about North Star Geography at Bright Ideas Press.
Week 2 North Star Geography

Did you know there is a Doctor Who based history curriculum? I found out about that when The Potter's Hand shared this post - Traveling Through History with Doctor Who.
Traveling Through History with Doctor Who

My daughter is a big fan of Doctor Who, so this is something that's on our wishlist!
Middle School Monday - Homeschool Coffee Break @
One of the challenges of middle school is helping our kids work more independently. Here's how they're doing that at One Homeschool Journey - Growing Independence in My 7th Grader.

I wish I could share all of your middle school posts! I have visited all of them, have tried to comment, and I think I've pinned them all. Y'know what though? I just realized I haven't pinned my posts to this board. I'll go fix that today.

Follow the Pinterest Board Middle School Monday and see the rest of the Middle School Monday posts here on Homeschool Coffee Break.

Are you homeschooling a middle school age student? How is your year going? Leave a comment and let me know!

Each week I invite bloggers to share their posts about middle school here on Middle School Monday. I'm trying something new for this month, and leaving the link open through to the end of the month, and I will do my best to visit, comment, and share your posts. Please grab the Middle School Monday button to add to your post or to your sidebar when you leave your link below, and please visit the other links and comment or share. I look forward to seeing what you and your middle schoolers are doing!
Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

Please visit your neighbors, leave comments, and share!

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Homeschool Weekly - Moving Forward Edition

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Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @
In our homeschool... In some ways, things started getting back to normal with school this week. Kennady worked on everything except Science - that is still on a backburner, but that will definitely need to change going forward.

Unfortunately, no art projects related to France were really grabbing Kennady's attention, so I told her she could just do whatever art project she wanted. She came up with this, which I shared on the Virtual Fridge (and will also feature in Scripture and a Snapshot this weekend on Just A Second.)
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @

Landon focused on Notgrass World History and on Drafting, but on Friday he was finally able to get back to Algebra! So glad he'll be able to catch up on that now, and hopefully he can still finish it by the end of the school year.

Music lessons, choir, and Civil Air Patrol all went as planned this week, so it was good to get back to those routines, despite the still chilly weather.

In other news... last Sunday our church (and many others in the area) cancelled services because of the road conditions. We had snow most of the day on Saturday, which turned to freezing rain or rain overnight, and by Sunday morning most of the roads and parking lots were just not safe. We would have had some trouble getting out of our driveway, to tell the truth. Strangely enough, by late morning, the sun was shining and it was quite warm - it turned into a gorgeous day! The guys here were all out shoveling out our vehicles in their shirtsleeves!

It took until Wednesday before the water clean-up company could get back to remove the blowers and dehumidifiers. Suddenly it was so quiet in our house, we hardly knew what to do with ourselves! And we now have this view if we look up in the living room and front entry.

Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @  Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @

The good news is that it made it very easy for the plumber to get at the pipe that needed to be repaired, so he came on Friday to do that, and the kids now have running water in their bathroom again! (I hope they cleaned it like I recommended. I haven't inspected.)

Next job is to talk with the insurance company again and see where we are on a settlement amount so that we can start on the repair work.

Also on Friday, we had satellite internet installed! Yay!! That's why Landon can get at his Algebra again! It's also a necessary step as we go forward on getting our solar panels installed.

Things that made me smile... this awesome sunset last weekend.
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @

Please pray... I am adding a prayer request this week. Will you join me in praying for a dear homeschooling friend who just took her husband to the hospital on Friday and found out he has a brain tumor? Surgery will be on Monday, and we are praying for healing and for good news. God knows their names and their specific needs.

34 Weeks of Clean...
I'm participating in a weekly challenge and link-up at Family, Faith, and Fridays, and this past week our assignment was to work on our living rooms. Well. My living room looked like this at the beginning of the week:
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @
and I'm not gonna lie - it hasn't changed much. It didn't help that the blowers weren't out of there until Wednesday. I had thought that once the blowers were out we could start boxing up books and pictures and knick-knacks etc and start clearing the space for the contractors to come and work. We started on that, but it doesn't look hugely different so... I have to ask for an extension on this assignment!

I didn't have "after" pictures from the dining room clean-up last week, so I'll post those today. For reference, here is the "before" picture:
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @
 Is it just me, or does this look like a throwback diner more than a dining room? Not that it's a bad thing. My hubby thinks it's time to get rid of the checkered wallpaper, but I don't know what to do instead. I like it until I see it in a picture like this, and then I think, "golly, it's too much." The wallpaper was here when we moved into the house, and we added the border around the top. It goes great with our Coca-Cola theme, but yeah. Maybe time to change. If only I could think what to do instead.
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @
Anyway, I took a shadowbox type shelf off the wall and put the mirror there instead (on the far right in the picture above) and got rid of a LOT of stuff that no longer belonged on the side table in the picture below. This wall is particularly in need of something to break up the checkerboard pattern, so I may have to put the mirror back here after all. I'm unlikely to do much in that vein right away, since I want to see what we wind up doing with the living room first. I am thinking this table might go back to the living room, and if so I have a baker's rack that I'll put here instead. So many decisions!
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @
 For Week 9, I will be facing a huge challenge, because the assignment is Books! I know I have WAY too many, and I need to reduce the collection, but oh, it's so hard!! For the details of the assignment, go to Family, Faith, and Fridays. Join in if you haven't already, and check back next week for our progress!

I recommend... visiting the Schoolhouse Crew blog, where you can find all the Crew reviews of these two great products that I reviewed this week. I highly recommend both of these as well - IndoctriNation is a documentary about the relationship between the decline of Christianity in America and the public school system; and In Freedom's Cause is an exciting audio drama about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and their fight for Scotland's freedom.
IndoctriNation review @  In Freedom's Cause review @
Crew members have also started posting reviews for Koru Naturals products. Watch for our full review of these health and beauty products at the beginning of the week.

On the bookshelf...

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Legend of the Firefish (Trophy Chase Trilogy) by George Bryan Polivka
Pemberley to Waterloo: Georgiana Darcy's Diary, Volume 2 by Anna Elliott
Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

I finished reading A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano - you can read that review and others at my book blog, Just A Second.

A parting shot... I love sharing coffee in the evening with my family.
Homeschool Weekly: Moving Forward Edition @

Weekly Wrap-Up

      For the Display of His Splendor

This post is linked at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, at Home to 4 Kiddos, and at For the Display of His SplendorI'm also sharing on the Homeschool Mother's Journal co-hosted by the following blogs: Managing Your BlessingsThe Heart of MichelleContented at HomeNext Gen Homeschool; and Abundant Life.

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

IndoctriNation - Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America

There have been days when the idea of putting my kids on the big yellow bus was kind of tempting; and I know that my kids have occasionally wondered if they are missing out on something by not attending a public school. We've held firm on our commitment to educate our children at home, though, and recently had an opportunity to be reminded of why the bus isn't an option for us. Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was able to review the DVD IndoctriNation from Great Commission Films.

Colin Gunn, a Scottish-born filmmaker, is also a homeschooling dad, and set out with his family to explore the history and foundation of public schools in America; and this award-winning documentary is the result. Gunn and his family traveled in a yellow school bus to many locations, and he interviewed people with names familiar in the Christian and homeschool circles such as Voddie Baucham, Ken Ham, R.C. Sproul, Jr., and John Taylor Gatto. He also interviewed students, parents,  Christian teachers and school administrators, and others to find out what is really going on in our schools. And it is chilling, to say the least.

Many parents are pushing back against the implementation of Common Core, and are expressing objections to certain things being taught or practiced in the public school system, and for many years now we've heard the refrain of "bringing God back into the schools", but does the public school model really have a Christian or Biblical foundation? I think many parents would be surprised to find out that the founders of the public school model espoused atheism, Marxism, and communism, and were openly derisive and hostile to religion and faith. Many viewed compulsory state schools as the ideal place to do a grand social engineering experiment, and to produce obedient workers that will basically do the government's will.
IndoctriNation DVD Review
The film addresses the following questions:

  • Who founded our public school system, and on what basis?
  • How did the founders of state education view children, society, religion, and Christianity?
  • How effective can Christians really be as "salt and light"?
  • Are children physically or morally safe in school?
  • Are the efforts of the schools, government, and teachers' unions really "for the children"?
  • Aren't state schools neutral when it comes to religion?
That last question is the crux of the matter, in my mind. Public education makes a great claim to be neutral ground when it comes to religious or moral instruction, but that isn't possible. In fact, the school system is predicated on belief systems quite opposed to what we as Christians believe; and a godless, anti-Christian worldview of moral relativism is woven into the very fabric of the public school system. The secularist would say that children should be allowed to form their own belief system and to choose for themselves, but at the same time they are subtly but insistently forcing relativistic and humanistic beliefs on students.

While it may seem like "preaching to the choir" to encourage home educators to watch this documentary, I also think it's valuable information for homeschoolers to have so that we can be firm in our decision and reassured that we have done the right thing. Sometimes we feel that we need to defend our choice to skeptical family members, and this film will certainly help in that regard.

I wish that every parent would watch this, especially Christian parents. Sadly, I often hear that Christian parents believe that they are sending their children to be "salt and light" in their schools; and while I certainly believe that the public schools are a great mission field right in our neighborhoods, I do have to question the wisdom of sending impressionable little ones to such a dangerous battlefield. I fear that for many families, they do not see a practical alternative to public school and don't believe they have a choice; and they don't fully comprehend the great spiritual risk of turning over their precious children to strangers to be educated. Or, to be blunt - to be indoctrinated.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. ~Psalm 127:1

My bottom line: This is an important film for parents, teachers, pastors, and all Christians to see. We must see the government schools and their agenda clearly, and I believe that every Christian parent has the God-given duty to think and pray very carefully about how to raise and educate their children. This film has also reinforced to me the importance of praying for the Christian children that are facing such godless influences every day at school; praying for Christian educators and administrators who are doing their best in an environment that is so often hostile.

Would you like to see IndoctriNation or share it with others? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website:

Pricing: The DVD may be purchased for $19.95. See all purchasing options and bundles at the website.

You can follow IndoctriNation on Facebook, on Twitter, on Vimeo, and on YouTube.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
IndoctriNation DVD Review

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

I have done my best to provide accurate pricing and links at the time this post originally appeared. Please be aware that these may change.

Virtual Refrigerator - Hope During the Dark Phases

This post may contain affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you!
Virtual Refrigerator - Art Link-up
Welcome to another edition of the Virtual Refrigerator! This weekly blog hop is co-hosted by A Glimpse of Our LifeHomeschool Coffee Break, and Every Bed of Roses. We all cordially invite you to add your link sharing the art that's on your Virtual Refrigerator and then hop over to the other blogs and admire what's on their Fridges! 
  Every Bed of Roses
February's Art Challenge: Valentines or Birds
All this month, we've been looking for artwork with the theme of Valentines, or artwork featuring Birds. This is the last week for this theme. Thanks for sharing so many great Valentines ideas! Please continue to share any art posts on our Virtual Fridge as well - we love seeing all of them!

March's Art Challenge:  Green (for St Patrick's Day!)
Ready to think ahead to next month's theme? We'll be looking for artwork that features the color green, or is related to St Patrick's Day.

This is what Kennady did yesterday. It wasn't for an assignment, and she couldn't explain exactly why she'd chosen a scene like this. When she showed it to me and commented that it was kind of dark, I asked her if she was doing artwork in phases like Picasso, and this was her Dark Phase. She thought for a moment and said "No, because if it was really a Dark Phase, I wouldn't have included the cross."
Virtual Fridge - Hope During the Dark Phases -

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him." ~Lamentations 3:21-24
If you are experiencing a "dark phase", I pray that God will bring you comfort and hope.

You can grab the button above and add it to your post. Add your link here to share your child's art or your arts and crafts how-to posts. Please visit the other blogs and admire what's on their Virtual Refrigerators!

You may also follow the Virtual Refrigerator's group Pinterest board. If you'd like to join us, just ask and one of the Fridge hosts can send you an invite. Continue to share your posts on the link-up each week, and on the Pinterest board!

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Extraordinary Adventure in Scottish History

In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In our homeschool, we've read some books by G.A. Henty, and we've listened to audiobooks occasionally, but we were recently introduced to the "active listening audio adventure" style of audio theatre. We were excited to receive and review In Freedom's Cause Single Package from Heirloom Audio Productions.
In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review
The passion of Heirloom Audio Productions is to bring history to life through audio drama, engaging the imagination of listeners and helping them feel like they are a part of the story. In Freedom's Cause tells the story of Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, and their fight for Scotland's freedom, based on the original book by G.A. Henty. 
For our review, we received the In Freedom's Cause Single Package which includes the 2-CD set of the audio book, an eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter, a printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace, and the In Freedom's Cause soundtrack (MP3). Heirloom Audio Productions was also kind enough to give us a downloadable eBook of the original G.A. Henty story "In Freedom's Cause".  I started reading the eBook myself, and love its beautiful color presentation.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Ebook cover "In Freedom's Cause" by G.A. Henty
The CDs come in a beautiful case that has The Prayer of William Wallace printed in the center panel. When I downloaded the eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter, I was so impressed by the quality of the beautiful full-color guide. This is not just a couple of pages of vocabulary words and comprehension questions - it contains excellent background information on G.A. Henty and the major historical characters in this book, as well as the comprehension questions, vocabulary, and discussions questions. I wanted very much to print the entire guide in color, on high quality paper, but my printer is not really up to that task, so we contented ourselves with using the Guide on my desktop and printing only a couple of pages from it. I have included a couple of pictures of the Guide here to give a bit of an idea of how beautiful it is.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Kennady immediately loaded the tracks onto her iPod and started listening. And I'm not kidding when I say "immediately" - as in, I brought in the mail and said something like, "Hey, the freedom's cause CDs came today!" and she couldn't get into the package and get started fast enough. Now, granted, part of her enthusiasm was generated by the inclusion in the cast of two of her current favorite actors, Billy Boyd (from Lord of the Rings) and Skandar Keynes (from Chronicles of Narnia). But the exciting story and 'you are there' quality of the production had her attention as soon as she started listening.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
I got to hold the CD briefly before it was claimed by my daughter!
Believe me, this is so much more than just a book on tape! Every time I listened, I had the sense that it was the audio only portion of a live-action movie filmed on location. The narrator introduces new scenes and provides the necessary commentary to the action, but the story is driven mostly by the dialogue, and the voice actors are outstanding. There is a full score soundtrack, composed by none other than Emmy award winner John Campbell (soundtrack for The Chronicles of Narnia). The accompanying background sounds such as crackling fire and soldiers on the march make the experience very much like 'watching' a movie with your eyes closed!

Kennady listened to the full story on her iPod several times, and on a couple of occasions we listened to the CDs while driving. Kennady and I were both captivated by the story, and I noticed that Landon (and other passengers that happened to be with us at any given time) seemed to be listening quite intently as well. When we started listening, I wondered if the Scottish accents would be a challenge to understanding, but I certainly didn't have that problem, and from my discussions with Kennady, she didn't either. For the most part it was also easy to tell which characters were speaking, even though there were at least four characters that went by the name Sir John!

In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Kennady had me print out the cast poster shown above for her to hang in her room, and she and I have had some good discussions about the events of the story. Although I didn't require her to use the Study Guide as part of her schoolwork, she has read most of it, and she took it upon herself to write out her own answers to the questions. (Please try to ignore our messy desk!)
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break   In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What we liked best:

  • outstanding quality of production, with a top-notch cast!
  • the Bonus features (eStudy Guide, cast poster, character guide, and printable Prayer of William Wallace) were so beautiful and high quality.
  • although the great leadership and courage of William Wallace is highlighted, it is also very clear that his faith in God and his reliance on Scripture and prayer were what sustained him and gave him the strength and perseverance to lead his people and to endure hardship, grief and loss, and even the torture he faced at his death.
In Freedom's Cause Review @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What I need to mention:

  • although the audio adventure is based on G.A. Henty's story, some changes have been made, so you wouldn't necessarily be able to follow along in your copy of the Henty book.
  • warfare and violence are obviously a part of the narrative, so the intensity of some of the scenes may be too much for very young or particularly sensitive children. 
Our bottom line: This exciting story captured our imaginations, and inspired interest in finding out more about the history of Scotland and her relationship with England over the centuries. I was personally touched by the powerful faith of Sir William Wallace. I heartily recommend In Freedom's Cause for family listening, or for students as they learn about this period of Scotland's history. Heirloom Audio Productions has also produced Under Drake's Flag, which was reviewed by Schoolhouse Crew members last year, and their newest offering, With Lee in Virginia, is scheduled for release near Memorial Day. (Follow on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter for more information on this upcoming release.)
With Lee in Virginia - coming soon from Heirloom Audio Productions

Would your family like to be part of this extraordinary adventure? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the website:

Pricing: In Freedom's Cause Single Package is currently available for $29.97 plus shipping. See the website for other purchasing options and full pricing information.

You can follow In Freedom's Cause on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, and on Pinterest.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. 
In Freedom's Cause Review

Crew Disclaimer

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

I have done my best to provide accurate pricing and links at the time this post originally appeared. Please be aware that these may change.