Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin Alive! TOS Product Review

Classical Academic Press
Latin Alive! Book 1

Written by Karen Moore and Gaylan Dubose

Karen Moore – Karen is the head of the Latin department at Grace Academy in Georgetown, TX. She began her Latin studies in seventh grade and went on to receive a B. A. in classics from the University of Texas. She is the author of the Libellus de Historia series, also published by Classical Academic Press.

Gaylan DuBose – Gaylan has been teaching Latin in the classroom for over forty years. He holds a Master’s degree in classics and was the Academic Contest Chair of the National Junior Classical League from 1996 to 2005. He is the author of Farrago Latina: A Teacher Resource Book, and co-author of the well regarded Excelability in Advanced Latin. He currently loves teaching Latin to fifth and sixth graders at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Austin, TX.

Latin Alive! Book One ($24.95)
Latin Alive! Book One: Teacher’s Edition ($29.95)
Latin Alive! 1 DVD and CD Set ($114.95)

Latin study recommended for students in junior high or high school

As stated by Classical Academic Press… Latin is an elegant and ancient language that has been studied for many generations. It is also quite alive in our culture, and in the languages we speak today. Latin Alive! is a series of Latin texts for junior high or high school Latin study. Written by experienced and enthusiastic Latin teachers, Latin Alive! is an excellent introduction to the classical language. With an emphasis on grammar and solid understanding of the language, it goes on to frame the study of Latin in Roman culture and mythology, and also to remind us of the many ways Latin is present in our culture today.

Let me start this product review by telling a story.

Two years ago we began our first year of a classical Christian education curriculum that encompasses history, theology, and literature. I am not embarrassed to admit that some of the books we studied that first year were books I had never heard of, let alone read. I’m not embarrassed because, quite frankly, most I knew had never read them either. These were books of antiquity. But I quickly realized I had a little problem. I didn’t know how to pronounce the names. I figured I would solve my problem by contacting the publisher and asking for some help. I mean, couldn’t someone please tell me how to say Herodotus? Or how about Eusebius, or Aeschylus or Oresteia? What about Aeneid or Hammurabi? At the time, the answer I received satisfied me. “No one knows for sure. These are languages no one has ever heard spoken.” Oh. OK. And off I went saying Herodotus as Hair-ro-dote-us. I’ll spare you from the massacre that occurred with all the other names.

Then one day Latin Alive! arrived in our home. I’m sure the color ran out of my face when I realized the answer I was given, “No one knows for sure” was really to keep me from embarrassment or, perhaps from feeling, um, stupid. You see, had I known anything at all about Latin, I would have realized that, while these are languages no one has ever heard spoken, there is a way to know. So, the complete answer should have been, “Learn to speak Latin.”

Amazingly, the very first lesson in Latin Alive! revealed to us how to say each of these names. Were these names in the first lesson? No. But the introduction to the Latin alphabet, the pronunciation of each letter (c is always hard as in cat, never soft as in cent), the consonant blends (ch is pronounced individually like chorus, not like bachelor), and that Latin vowels are either long or short and have only two sounds helped us immensely. There are only six diphthongs in Latin. So, when we see the diphthong ae we know it sounds like the ai in aisle. We now know how to say Aeschylus.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to attempt to teach a Latin course here on my blog! But I thought it important to say that in one lesson in Latin Alive!, taken slowly over a few days, our eyes and hearts were opened to a whole new world.

So, why Latin? Read Karen Moore’s detailed answer here. Let me also quote Amy Barr, a homeschool mom with a M.A. in Latin, from a recent article that appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

“Mastery of a Classical language promotes excellent English grammar, vocabulary, and analytical skills, Classics students tend to be self-directed learners who shine at anything requiring language, logic, or analysis. Advanced students go on to read texts foundational to Western religion, philosophy, and society becomes the next generation of well-rounded scholars in law, history, medicine, science, and literature.”

From the Classical Academic Press website…

Students will be delighted by what they learn in each new chapter of Latin Alive!, Book One, and they will learn to see that Latin is everywhere around them. As the first text in a three-year series, it is a rigorous and thorough introduction to this great language, and is designed to engage the upper school (middle and high school) student. Brimming with relevant facts and stories this text offers something for everyone.

• Thirty six weekly chapters including twenty nine new content chapters and seven review, “reading” chapters.

• Pronunciation Guides

• Weekly introduction of vocabulary

• Thorough grammar explanations including all five noun declensions and cases, all verb conjugations, irregular verbs, various pronouns, adjectives and adverbs

• United States state seals and their Latin mottos

• Extensive study of the Latin derivatives of English words

• Substantial Latin readings and translation exercises

• Lessons and stories of Roman culture, myths and history

• Exercises and questions to prepare students for the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Exam

• Includes historical contributions from Christopher Schlect, historian and Academic Dean at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID

• Teacher’s Materials including answer keys, teacher’s helps and additional activities available separately

As we watched Latin Alive! lessons on DVD each day, we found Karen Moore to be engaging and easy to listen to. We love her southern y’alls and her rolling r’s! Lessons are broken down into sections and exercises making it easy to stop and practice what you’ve learned. The student textbook is non-consumable (exercises are completed on separate sheets of paper). We enjoyed listening to the audio CD of the Unit Review Latin Readings provided to help students practice proper pronunciation and accent.

To see pages of the student textbook, click here. To see pages of the teacher’s edition, click here. To find out what Karen Moore is up to, check out her Latin Alive! blog here. Why there's even a Yahoo! Group for Latin Alive!

If there was one thing I could add to Latin Alive! it would be a speaking Latin dictionary at the website. This is a tool I would pay to use. For those Latin words we are struggling to memorize and that need more practice, it would be an invaluable tool.

Make no bones about it--learning Latin is rigorous and takes practice, practice, practice. Latin Alive! is designed to serve students new to Latin, while a the same time providing further insight and challenges for “veterans” of any grammar school series.

Let me just say, Ama-mus Latin!

If you use Latin Alive! Ama-bi-tis Latin too!

I highly recommend Latin Alive! and am so thankful to have had the opportunity to review and use this product.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

The first time I noticed it was when I saw Caleb for the first time after we arrived at camp. He had been gone for fifteen days. If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you will remember when he went wilderness camping in the mountains last August. Maybe it was because I hadn't seen him for so long. After all, it was the longest we had ever been apart from one another.

As a mother, I was checking him out to make sure everything was OK. And then I saw it. I looked again and started searching my memory. Had I forgotten? No. I didn't remember seeing it there before. There it was plain as day. And I just couldn't take my eyes off it.

A wrinkle.

When my son smiled, there was a small wrinkle under the corner of his right eye. No, not crows feet. Not that kind of a wrinkle.

I didn't say anything to anyone. Actually, for quite a while I kept it to myself. I kept staring and wondered why Caleb hadn't noticed. I guess he didn't realize I was actually staring. Until that day when the tears came. My tears.

You see, as my son has turned into a man right before my eyes, this little wrinkle came with some of the changes he has gone through. That little wrinkle? Well, it belonged to my brother. My brother has been gone for six years now. Even still, I remember my brother's wrinkle as if he were sitting here in front of me. When he smiled, that little wrinkle would show itself.

Somehow through the amazing transfer of genes in our DNA, my son received that little smile wrinkle from my brother. It's his wrinkle in time.

And I'm happy it's I can remember.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Rains Water the Earth

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6:3

In spite of the fact that I sometimes feel like I'm walking around in big circles, life manages to move at a steady pace and in a forward direction whether I am or not. I've often thought that if the world would just stop and let me jump off just a few minutes, I could get my act together and be ready to move forward too. But, it never seems to work out that way.

Just yesterday morning, I was up very early and snuggled on the sofa with my cup of coffee and Bible. As I was turning to the book of Romans, a little folded up piece of paper fell from the back pages of my Bible. There's a little pocket back there that holds a special stash of love letters from my Rachel. She often writes me a little note, you know, just because. I carefully unfolded this little letter to reveal a message she had written when she was only six years old.

On the outside is a little stick figure drawn in orange marker with a talking bubble that says, "a Kiss for Mama"

The inside reads, with carefully formed letters written in thick pencil:

God made me speshel so you and Daddy cood love and caer for me.
I love God is much as you do.
I love you.

this is a Bible vers.
Sumit yourselfs then to God, resist the devel and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

As I sat there in the quiet of an early Sunday morning, tears chasing one another down my cheeks, I realized once again how fleeting is time. It waits for no one.

You know, I was certain I had lingered over what my children did and said and accomplished from the moment they were born. After all, I was with them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Did I miss something somehow? I found myself wanting to go back in time. To stay there. All wrapped up in that little hand written love letter, things seemed simpler. Life was innocent. Stick figures were works of art and words spelled phonetically were exciting milestones.

And so I find myself with another Monday nearly over. What do I do? I remind myself to acknowledge the on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Apologia--Who Is God? TOS Product Review

"If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus. Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think - our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We're often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance."

George Barna describing the outcome of a national survey of 2033 adults that showed only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.

The word Apologia appears eight times in the New Testament, in the context of people defending their faith or actions by reason and logic.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..." 1 Peter 3:15

Apologia Press

Who Is GOD? And Can I really Know Him?
Biblical Worldview of God and Truth
Volume 1 in the What We Believe Series

Written by John Hay and David Webb

Cost: $39.00 (252 pages hardbound book)

Recommended for children ages 6 to 14

When Who Is GOD? arrived, I was immediately struck by the quality and beauty of the actual book. We have used textbooks published by Apologia for years and this book falls right in line with the high-quality products for which they are known.

Let me just start by saying that by God's grace we have been raising our children under the influence of a biblical worldview since they were old enough to understand language. We have always tried to filter what we read, what we see, what we hear, and what we do through God's Word, the Bible. I can remember when my children were very young (even as teenagers today) and asking difficult questions. I have great comfort in saying the words, "Well, God says..." or "Well, when God created..." The biblical lens through which we look at the world allows us to see with eyes focused on the Creator God. Otherwise, chaos oftentimes rules our lives.

And so Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?, introduces the concept of worldview while laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth and He reveals His truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God’s children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God.

View a sample lesson here. See the Table of Contents here.

We have been using this curriculum for the past six weeks and have found it to be very well presented, easy to read, and easy to use each day. Like every Apologia book we have read in the past, this text reads like a story, is engaging and thought provoking. With the purchase of the book, a link and password are provided to allow users extensive resources. These resources include optional teacher helps, student notebooking pages, and House of Truth inserts, along with links to on-line Bibles, Bible study tools, Christian Apologetics, Movie, TV and Video Game Reviews, and book reviews. Apologia thought of everything you might need or want to have access to while using this book!

The introduction includes a lesson plan, designed to be flexible and adaptable to each family's needs. While their schedule recommends one lesson every two weeks, three days per week, we adjusted our schedule slightly so we could use the curriculum five days a week. Each lesson is divided into a very specific and consistent structure:

The Big Idea: Main topic of the lesson and a brief overview of what has been learned up to this point.

What You Will Do: Lesson objectives.

Short Story: A story featuring characters with different worldviews. The characters work thorough their differences by seeking council through the bible and their parents.

Think About It: Thought-provoking questions to check for understanding and comprehension.

What You Need To Know: Important vocabulary words and definitions that students can write in their notebooks.

Hide It In Your Heart: Two specific Bible verses to be written in the student notebook for memorization. The first verse has to do with the main theme of the lesson while the second verse pertains to a character trait.

Integrated Learning: Articles related to the main text across the fields of art, math, science, history and more.

What Should I do?: Highlights a specific character trait that should be demonstrated bu the student in response to what he or she has just learned about God.

Prayer: Each lesson concludes with a prayer.

Worldview Study: Introduces the student to the concept of worldview.

House of Truth: Intended to be a hands-on memory aid, the House of Truth is a visual model constructed one step at a time. In this book, the student will complete the foundation and the first wall of the house. A new wall will be added in the second, third, and fourth volumes of the series.

Scripture is used and referenced throughout each lesson. If there is one thing I would change, it would be the use of different versions of the Bible. I wish scripture references were consistently NIV or ESV. Although I understand the desire to want to please its variety of readers, I found verses on the same page citing NIV and NLT a little bothersome. But you can't please everyone!

While the short stories helped develop the main theme of the lesson, we found them to be more in line for younger-aged students. My teenagers were a little, um, tortured by the simplicity of the stories. On the other hand, I can see how they would appeal to younger readers.

We enjoy the notebooking aspect of the curriculum since we use notebooking in other areas of our school day. Not only does notebooking reinforce each lesson, it provides a great vehicle for future portfolio reviews, if needed.

Overall, I think Who is GOD? is a great way to introduce a biblical worldview to parents and students desiring to know more about God and His truths and highly recommend Apologia's What We Believe series of books.

Additional products in this series What We Believe include Who Am I?, Who Is My Brother?, and What on Earth Can I Do?

Truth is eternal, knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them.
Madeleine L'Engle

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday's Maybe

I'm on the run (what else is new, right?), but wanted to get something posted today. Here's a little photo of Mr. Wonderful's fleece blanket. He selected the fabric. We thought it was adorable. What's not to love about chubby-faced zoo animals smiling back at you?

It wasn't until everything was cut out and I was well on my way getting this blanket put together that Rachel discovered a tiny little typo. Do you see it?

I don't suppose the people in China (who manufactured the fabric) know how we spell the word funny. I mean, a "u" and an "n" look exactly alike depending upon which side of the fabric you're on, right?

We thought it was funny, er, funuy.

I hope this finds you smiling today!

Happy Monday to you,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Girl, A Big Train, and Cookies

Rachel, our resident engineer

It was her goal to use every single train track, every single train and car, and bridge and tree and building and stop sign and, well, you get the picture. I would have had to take a panoramic view photo to capture the entire layout. The track actually ran under the chair behind her and swirled around in front of the fire place before heading back into town!

I just love this girl! She's amazing. Last night she made homemade chocolate chip cookies (which, I might add, were sent to work with Daddy who notified us this morning that they are almost gone and were receiving rave reviews!). I happened to be walking by when she placed a cookie-filled baking sheet into the oven and then set two timers. The one on the stove was for 12 minutes (for how long the cookies needed to bake). The one on the microwave was for two minutes. Now the timer wasn't actually turned on, it was just set for two minutes and blinking, ready for someone to press the Start button. Needless to say, this threw me for a loop. "What's that for?" I inquired. "Oh, after I take the cookies out of the oven, I need to wait two minutes before moving them to the cooling racks. This is my timer for the two minutes." Really? Really!

She's a machine! Did you know that 1/8 cup is equal to two tablespoons? She had to cut this cookie recipe in half (it makes 80 cookies) and discovered several instances where the recipe called for 1/4 cup. Well, I don't think they make a 1/8 measuring cup, so she went on-line and found a conversion tool. She also discovered that one-half an egg is equal to 2 tablespoons as well. I probably would have just eye-balled the 1/8 cup, added a whole egg and hoped for the best. This usually doesn't work out too well in the world of baking.

But Rachel is all about the details. And that, my friends, is why her cookies were absolutely amazing. Honestly, they were the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Ever.

This little girl wants her own blog. I'm thinking she's ready! Details to follow soon.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy One Year Blogging Me!

It's easier to handle all this snow when there's blue skies and sunshine

There's so many things on my mind as I sit here to reflect on my one year blogging anniversary. You can read my original post here. After reading the original post again, I think I have stayed true to what I imagined about having a least for the most part.

I have noticed a pattern of late, however. My days seem to be so full that I just don't have the time I'd like to journal my thoughts. I'll be honest to say that it bugs me. There's not too many nights that I don't find myself getting into bed and thinking, "I didn't blog...again." By the time I finished today's To Do List, it was already past 6:30 this evening. And I get up at 6 a.m. most mornings. I'll attribute it to a very busy school year and a very busy home-life schedule. I guess I'll just have to roll with it for now and hope things will slow down a little in the very near future. I hope so anyway.

So, here are some rambling thoughts...

Nineteen days until spring. Yes, I am counting down the days. This has been one of the longest and coldest and snowiest and drabbest gray and white winters I can remember in a very long time. Mr. Wonderful would tell you that this has been the worst winter driving weather he can ever remember...ever. I believe last week ended with our fourth blizzard in eight days. A week ago tonight it took him over three hours to drive home. We were all a little distraught about this until we learned that most people were stuck on the highway from 8 to 10 hours due to several jack-knifed tractor trailers just a few miles from our home.

We have discovered a baby squirrel in our backyard that has a strange anomaly. He has no fur on his tail. It's just a little stick-like looking thing that points straight up. Let me just tell you that squirrels look funny with rat tails! I don't know how long he'll survive soaring on tree tops without his tail to guide him.

For the past few days I've noticed the lovely scent of a skunk whenever I walk outside our garage. Yesterday we discovered that a skunk has chosen to make his path across our backyard and through the side woods, following the deer trail. We watched him marking his territory as he waddled through the trees. Great. Just great.

Caleb attended his very first Celtic Ball a little over a week ago. We walked in with him hoping to see some of the ladies in their beautiful gowns, but didn't want to be lingering parents so we quickly headed out. As we were driving away Mr. Wonderful asked me if I was OK. Me? Yes! I am so excited for him! I look over to find my husband with tears rolling down his cheeks. He cannot believe I'm handling this so well! He said that when we walked in with him, he quickly realized that Caleb was in his element. He's a people-person. He's confident. He's never met a stranger. He was comfortable. He didn't need us. And so my husband (who didn't cry when we dumped Caleb off in the middle of a mountain) found this event to be his heart-wrenching moment. Caleb is growing-up. Yes, yes he is.

I trust this finds you all doing well and having enjoyed this first day of March. Thank you for checking in on me from time to time. I am still here.

Much love,