Minimalist Homeschooling – A Review

Minimalist Homeschooling – A Review

(The following is a post from Rebecca Lundgren, Junior High teacher at True North Homeschool Academy.)

I received the book Minimalist Homeschooling:  A Values-Based Approach to Maximize Learning and Minimizing Stress from the author, Zara Fagan Ph.D., at a homeschooling convention.  Minimalism is no longer a noun or adjective; it has become a culture.  There are books, blogs, websites, and classes that you can take on becoming minimalist. There is not a minimal amount of information for something that is supposed to make your life easier.

So, what is minimalist homeschooling?

Dr. Fagan also has a free e-book you can get from registering at her site.  (You can find that here.) Minimalist homeschooling is about focusing on the educational values you want to see in your children, and yourself.  Not in the facts and accomplishments, or whatever your homeschooling friends are doing.

When glancing through the book, I thought, “OK, a quick, simple book.  I can read it and add it to my minimalism shelf.”  Yes, I have a section of books in my home on cleaning and organizing.  I have lots of books, so many I am often losing them.  Yes, it is counterproductive, and I admit I have a book problem.

This book, while giving you ideas on how to get rid of clutter, did not help with that.  Instead, I found a book that inspired me, has led to a lot of deep self-evaluation and really helped me change how I am homeschooling my children.  This book will not end up on my cleaning and organizing shelf.  This book will stay on my nightstand.  That is where I keep the books that remind me why I am on this journey.  These are the books that help me get back to the basics.  Minimalist Homeschooling is one of those books that will encourage me on the days when I feel overwhelmed, and I am wondering what I need to change.

What did I love about Minimalist Homeschooling?

My personal favorite chapter is the fifth one.  Dr. Fagan makes an interesting suggestion to homeschooling parents.  She encourages you to read the chapter before you go searching, even just browsing, for homeschool curriculum.  I wish I had known this information when leaving public school.  I wanted to do it all.  I was trying to fit into what I thought homeschooling looked (or should) look like rather than assessing my family’s needs and how my children learn. The result is an overwhelming amount of curriculum that isn’t working for us.  Workbooks that my children don’t want to do, and really won’t anyway because we don’t have time for them.

I really appreciated the author’s reflection questions. As a result, I have begun to get rid of the things we no longer need or that no longer fit my children’s learning style.  She points out that unused curriculum can lead to a sense of failure, and in my experience, I have certainly found that to be true.  Right now, I have piles of curriculum that I am selling and donating. My “I could still use that someday” books are finding new homes with others that need them right now.  I am beginning to look at my shelves and feel like I am doing enough in a day…not every day, but certainly on more of them.  It has led to less stress and more intentionality.  It is still summer though…ask me how I am feeling in February.

You can find more about Zara Fagen Ph.D. at http://www.zaraphd.com/.

(If you enjoyed this post, you might also love our review of Practical Proverbs!)

I received a free copy of this product through True North Homeschool Academy in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Rebecca Lundgren

Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals.  While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.  Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University.  Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program.  Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online.  She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.

Mrs. Lundgren is one of our fabulous Junior High teachers at True North Homeschool Academy.

 

 

Are you interested in Minimalist Homeschooling? Check out our review of the book, Minimalist Homeschooling by Dr. Zara Fagan. #homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #minimalist #review

Practical Proverbs Study Review

Practical Proverbs Study Review

(The following is a post from Rebecca Lundgren, Junior High teacher at True North Homeschool Academy.)

Practical Proverbs Study Review

At the homeschool convention in Jefferson, North Dakota, I met Dara Halydyer with Abiding Truth Ministries. I received the book Practical Proverbs: a Bible study and life management course for the younger student, and was excited to have the opportunity to review the program in my home.  I have three girls who I love to do Bible studies with, and this seemed like it would be a great addition to our morning time.

The study is geared towards fourth through eighth graders so I had hope that it would be a great fit for all of my kids to do together.  I first tried the student course with my 14-year-old Chloe (eighth grade) my 12-year-old Hannah (sixth grade) and 10-year-old Josie (fourth grade).  Josie struggles with reading and language, so I wanted to do it as a group together. I realized shortly into it that this was not going to work for the eighth-grader with discussion.  Her sisters are just at a different level of thinking. While she could offer advice and help with teaching, she had so much else to do in her homeschool day that she was eager to get started.

It is suggested that seventh and eighth graders could go through the course alone with an adult to discuss any questions with.  The great thing about that was if I had a day that I couldn’t do it, I could assign my reluctant, but obedient eighth-grader to lead.

What did Practical Proverbs look like for us?

I planned to do four lessons a week, and I knew I wasn’t going to finish in time for the summer because it is broken into 36 lessons on 36 topics. I thought we might get a good start into it, but we often couldn’t finish a lesson in a day.  It would be much more appropriate to add this study as its own subject.  It would be perfect for a Bible course for a middle school child to complete.  We already had a weekly schedule, and I don’t change things much in the spring because we are in the home stretch.

We went through the first five lessons filling in the worksheets and the blanks, having a few good discussions, but unfortunately not all of my children like worksheets.  In later lessons, we used the worksheets more as a guide for reading and discussing.  I really loved it for discussion, but then I felt like we missed so many other points that we camped in the same lesson for a while.

What did I love about Practical Proverbs?

I really enjoyed how full the of scripture the lessons are.  I love how the author picks apart Proverbs and adds so much more of the bible to the lesson.  There is a lot of truth and not any fluff or platitudes that I have come across yet.  The other thing was it was a lot.  Some of the lessons could easily be broken into two or even more.  It often digs so deep, that when you are adding discussions to the what is already in place, you can’t complete a full lesson.  I didn’t give it to my children to just do on their own, so I can not judge how that would have gone.

Pros of Practical Proverbs

  • Overflowing with truth and Scripture
  • Not worldly but very biblical
  • Very well written and practical approach to Bible study
  • Would be a great stand-alone class
  • Easy for a middle school student to understand and work on independently.

Cons of Practical Proverbs

  • It’s a workbook
  • Not easy to do as a family study

(I received a free copy of this product through True North Homeschool Academy in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.)

If you enjoyed this post you may also love our review of the Museum of the Bible!

Rebecca Lundgren

 

Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals.  While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.  Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University.  Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program.  Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online.  She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.

Mrs. Lundgren is one of our fabulous Junior High teachers at True North Homeschool Academy.

 

Are you looking for a Bible study for your homeschool students? Check out our review of Practical Proverbs to see if it will work for your family! #BibleStudy #HomeschoolBible #Reviews #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #PracticalProverbs

Museum of the Bible Review

Museum of the Bible Review

Museum of the Bible

We are museum go-ers, history lovers, and knowledge gather-ers. So, it was no surprise that on our recent trip to Washington, D.C., we took a day to visit the Museum of the Bible. Our group included international evangelists with Louis Palou Ministries, a Pastor of 40+ years, a Rabbi, an author and podcaster from Israel, a Psychologist, college student, high school student, and a few wives- all of whom are very involved in ministry, education, and travel. We arrived at 10 a.m and stayed until closing and could easily have come back for another day or two or three.

Visually the Museum is stunning and state of the art.  It is also impeccably clean with a staff that is pleasant, welcoming, and helpful. Our group started on the main floor, checking out the Vatican Museums and Library; as we waited for everyone to gather; these are quite beautiful.

Starting at the Top

We quickly decided to start on the top floor and make our way down. Did I mention that this museum was visually stunning? Full of light and windows, wide hallways and elevators that were full of pictures of the gallery. The very ambiance of the museum was delightful!

We found ourselves in an exhibit called, “The People of the Land: History and Archology of Ancient Israel.” We watched two short movies, one on the Land of the Bible and one on the Coinage of the Ancient World. These movies were very interesting. Following the movies, we made our way through the collection, which was amazing! Ancient artifacts, clear descriptions, and clever displays held our interest for quite a while.

We went from there to the Hall of Bible Artifacts- a stunningly beautiful hall- the pictures I tried to take did not do it justice! The hall was chock full of information, videos, collections, and stories about the Bible. From there we went to one of our favorite funny historians, Drive Through History. Here we found excellent visuals, great graphics, and information-packed surroundings!

 

Time for Lunch!

From there, our group detoured to lunch where everyone found more than enough delicious food, including Kosher selections, to fill our bellies, and keep us going.

Stories of the Bible

Next stop, Floor 3 and Stories of the Bible. This floor included a Judean village, carefully crafted and constructed to give you a feel of what it might have been like to live in a small Judean village in the Ancient World. Again, gorgeous craftsmanship, attention to so many details, videos, plaques and a sense of peaceful serenity filled us as we wandered through houses and rooms. While the entire museum has a sense of gentle calm throughout, this particular section was particularly serene.

We watched more short, extremely well done, videos on the lives of those who lived near or with Jesus and then moved on to The Hebrew Bible Experience.

The Hebrew Bible Experience

This is a 30-minute encounter with the Hebrew Bible. You actually walk from theater to room, and down hallways, pausing midway as you find yourself surrounded or surrounding a part of the display.  The Bible Experience includes engaging vignettes from the Bible, including Noah’s Ark, the Burning Bush, the Passover and more! The stories are familiar ones, but the display was ingenious, cleverly designed and included movement, audio-visual and graphics. It is one of the most inventive and ingenious museum displays I’ve ever seen.

If there hadn’t been so much more to take in, I would have gone back through a second time! It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the museum and our Rabbi friend loved it too! He’s been in education for years and his idea at the end of The Hebrew Bible Experience was to do a yearly field trip with True North Homeschool Academy students through the Museum- it is that inspiring!

The Bible in America

We left what I thought was going to be my absolute favorite part of the museum to encounter a part of the Museum that rivaled for first place- and that was The Bible in America. Keep in mind, we were a group of Bible-loving history nerds with a few languages and pet areas of study between us. This section captured our imaginations, caused us to stop and talk and even debate a bit. Again, the displays were engaging and used a little bit of video, plaques, graphics, and displays, including interactive displays that asked your opinion, caused you to question or wonder and piqued your curiosity.

From there, on to the Bible in the World and the Bible Now, including a docent-led display on Gutenberg’s printing press, alongside which was a provocative art display, including one of my personal favorite, lesser-known Bible characters, Simon of Cyrene.

From there, the group dispersed as some had evening engagements, while my husband, who has a Master’s Degree in Theology and years of serious, intellectual Bible study under his belt, went back up to the History of Bible to soak in every last minute of the outstanding displays.

It’s no wonder that the Museum of the Bible is one of the Top 10 Museums in a city full of world-class museums. There is absolutely everything to love about this Museum, that presents the most important Book of all time in ways that will cause you to consider it anew, with wonder and joy.

If you haven’t put the Museum of the Bible on your Bucket List, do it now! This is a Museum that is not to be missed, by anyone who values culture, Judeo-Culture and all things good, true and beautiful!

Find Museum of the Bible on:

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Are you considering visiting the Museum of the Bible?  Check out this review to see why we think this place is a can't miss destination! #MuseumoftheBible #review #TrueNorthHoemschoolAcademy

Arrethtrae Board Game Review

Arrethtrae Board Game Review

Are you looking for a board game based on a book series?  Well, we have just what you are looking for, introducing Arrethtrae, the Kingdom Series Board Game.  Check out our full review below.

“The Prince has come, taught, trained the knights of the Prince, died, risen, and returned to the Kingdom across the Sea to His Father the King. But before He left, He chose you for the greatest mission the land has ever witnessed… retake the entire kingdom from the clutches of the Dark Knight and his Shadow Warriors and establish havens for the Prince throughout the land. As a knight of the Prince you must work together and with other knights to fight against vicious Shadow Warriors and their creatures. Your fight will be difficult [- nay- impossible. However, even the impossible is possible when you fight for the Prince! Remember that your fight is noble, true and just, for the Prince has called and equipped you for it. His league of Silent Warriors has always on the ready to help a knight in need. The King reigns…. And His Son.”

-From the Arrethtrae game box.

Arrethtrae Objective & Game Play

Based off of Chuck Black’s Kingdom and Arrethtrae series, the objective of Arrethtrae board game is to retake as much of the Kingdom from the Dark knight as possible before the Prince returns. The board has thirty regions that must be retaken, and only ten turns to do so. To make matters worse, a well-shuffled battle card deck may produce well-defended strongholds of the Dark Knight, which must be destroyed to take the region. Thus, strategy is a vital part of this game, and as neighboring knights give you a combat boost, teamwork is integral as well.

Combat is a simple roll your dice system. You take the score of your dice and add or subtract the combat boosts from items you have earned in previous battles. If you are fighting a monster, you subtract a combat point for every item used to fight in the book that you don’t have. However, there are maximum and minimum battle stats to combat points, so there is always a chance you may win, which is helpful if you are in a tight spot. Of course, that same rule also means that there is always a chance of losing as well.

Each character starts with ten health but can heal up to fifteen. However, for every battle lost, a character loses one health. When a character’s health reaches zero, they die and are removed from the game. Add this to the fact that you lose a point of health when you retreat, and knowing when to pick your battles and when to retreat add an extra level of strategy to the game.

What did I think of Arrethtrae? 

In short, it is a simple but enjoyable game. The time pressure of trying to go as far as possible before the Prince’s boat returns gives it an enjoyable tension, especially when you have one turn left, with two enemy strongholds between you and heroic victory, and only three knights with which to take them. (This may, or may not, have actually happened.)

It is right at the sweet spot of complicated enough to be enjoyable to older players, yet simple enough to include the kiddos.

The game can be played without you having read the series, but it will make more sense if you read the books. So if you are interested in reading the two series that inspired the game, or more books by Chuck Black, go to his website at perfect-praise.com  where you can also order the audiobooks, the soundtracks, and the game itself. Find out more:

EthanEthan Nehring was born on January 3, 2000. He is a home-school graduate, Best Actor recipient, student of Chinese Kempo, history and science nerd, and Forger of Duct Tape and weaver of Cardboard.

He is the fourth of David and Lisa Nehring’s five children, and is honored to be their son. When he isn’t folding partners at Karate, teaching Latin, or reading history tomes for fun, he is playing strategy games with his friends and family.

 

 

Are you interested in the board game Arrethtrae?  Check out our in-depth review of the board game based on the books by Chuck Black. #homeschool #gamereview #Arrethtrae

Creative Writing for Awesome People

Creative Writing for Awesome People

Hi, my name is Emily Wilford.  I’m sixteen years old (and totally NOT the sassy teenager my mother claims I am).  Hailing from Iowa, I come from a rather large (aka LOUD) family of six kids, of which I am the oldest.  I have been homeschooled since day one, and love the hands-on learning that homeschooling provides! 

During the past few years, I have come to enjoy Latin, Shakespeare, and a wide variety of literature, as well as the meaningful friendships gained through my classes.  In my (precious little) free time, I love to draw, read, and listen to music. I also enjoy camping, horseback riding, and ballroom dancing! Youth trips with my church are my favorite part of summer, and in the winter months, there is nothing better than to hide away with a good book and a warm blanket!  

This last semester, I enrolled in a writing course through True North Homeschool Academy.  Titled “Writing Club for Awesome People,” this course has not only been beneficial but also a total blast!  

Every first and third Friday of the month, class commences with a unique creative writing prompt. Each student speed-writes whatever first comes to their mind.  It is amazing how varied the responses are from a single prompt! Next, we dive into the lesson. We have studied a great variety of subjects, including (but not limited to): rhyme, sketch comedy, dialogue, setting, parallelism, and songwriting.  This diversity has sharpened each point, as well as my writing as a whole. 

To wrap up class, a few students read whatever writing they’ve been working on during the week. They are offered both encouragement and critique, as well as suggestions and ideas.  It is enormously beneficial having not only a captive audience but a skilled and like-minded one to listen to and assess one’s writing!

There are four reasons why I have enjoyed this class.  

  • First, it has improved my writing skills- both creative and technical.  Amid all the do’s and don’ts of good writing, tips and tricks are mixed in, all resulting in academic growth.  The abilities I’ve developed over this short semester will stay with me for many, many years to come.
  • Second, it has broadened my scope in creative writing.  This class has encouraged me to try new styles and genres- I would never have thought to write a poem on my own!
  • Third, this class has rekindled my love for writing.  Often in my free time, I now feel the urge to elaborate and work on my stories- I had forgotten how much fun writing could be!
  • Fourth, I’ve made some fantastic friends.  It is so fun to be in a class with other middle/high school kids who love to write! They always have a book to recommend, encouragement to offer, and tips to suggest.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you to consider taking a course from True North Homeschool Academy. Gaining experience, making friends, growing in knowledge…what could be better?

 

Interested in joining the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club?  Check it out here.

 

Emily W bio

 

Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student.  She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold.  She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos.  You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw).  She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done!  Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in third person.

 

 

 

Are you looking for an amazing outlet for creative writing for your homeschool kid? Check out this review of True North Homeschool Academy writing club! #writing #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #homeschool #homeschoolclub #homeschooling

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