Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Excellence in Literature - Review

Excellence in Literature:  Reading and Writing Through the Classics

The name says it all.  I could stop right there, but I'm too excited to tell you the details.  When I saw this come on deck as a review opportunity I did a back flip.  OK, maybe not actually (or I would be laid up in bed for days just for trying), but I imagined a back flip!  You can imagine my excitement when I was picked to receive and review this product......yup, cue another back flip!

I'm a planner!  My son is in 6th grade and this product is designed for 8-12 grade.  But, I'm already planning for next year and 8th grade.  I'm also already thinking about his high school years.  I want to line up a fabulous selection of courses so that he will be well prepared for SAT's, CLEP, ACT, and whatever other acronym endowed test that will come his way.  

Excellence in Literature by Janice Campbell is a 5 Leveled Curriculum that will take you from 8th grade through 12th grade.  I was provided with English I:  Introduction to Literature which is designed for 8th grade.  It has an Honors Option which provides additional literature and lessons for a student that is desiring to be prepared for and AP or CLEP test at the end of the year.
The website describes this curriculum so perfectly:

Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.
Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing.

So, now you know why I did a *ahem* back flip when I read this description at the time I applied to be able to review this curriculum.  This was exactly what I imagined for a Literature curriculum as my son moved towards high school.  Then, I continued reading on the website and found the Objectives and Course Description....

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    Unit 1: Short Stories by-
    • Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
    • Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
    • O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • Eudora Welty: A Worn Path

    • James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
    Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

    Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

    Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

    Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

    Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Yowza!  Stop right there!  What a great lineup of classic literature.  I'll admit that when I took literature in school it was one of my greatest nightmares.  I LOVE to write, but not much of classic literature and poetry made sense to me and the teachers I had were not all that interested in taking the extra time to help me grasp it.  So, I'm excited to take this course and the four more that follow along with my son.
You can click here and select any of the levels of Excellence in Literature to see their course objective and description.  You'll find that English I and II provide foundational skills; English III and IV offer a chronological survey of American and British literature, and English V focuses on European Literature.  You can purchase each level separately for $29.00 + $4.95 Priority Mail shipping, or download an e-book right away for only $27.00

Yes, you read that right.

I thought I read that wrong the first time I saw it because I couldn't believe I could get my son's entire literature curriculum for one year for less than $30.  Fabulous!  You also have the option to purchase the complete curriculum, I-V, for $139 + shipping or download the e-book version for $135.

I received the e-book version and I was very grateful for it!  I know that when I order the additional courses that I will get the print book.  I just personally prefer having an actual book in my hand and I don't mind paying the few dollars extra for it.  This curriculum is everything I look for....step by step "what to do", comprehensive, challenging, college prep standards, Christian themed, and inexpensive.

As you visit the website to order your own curriculum take the time to check out all the other goodies and nuggets there:

There is so much more, but these were my favorite links to spend time at there.  Have fun on your visit!

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family.  I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

George Washington Carver - His Life & His Work DVD Review

Marshall Publishing is known for its' educational DVD's and books.  We love to keep learning interesting and that includes using DVD's and video documentaries to enhance our lessons.  So, when I was selected to review the George Washington Carver:  His Life and His Work DVD I was very excited.

The DVD tells the story of Carver's life from childhood on up.  His life of overcoming obstacles, tireless dedication, education, work, discoveries and contributions is inspiring!  Honestly, I had no idea how much Carver impacted our world and contributed to the growth of agriculture and horticulture.

My family sat together to watch this almost 30 minute film.  The narration was interesting and the pictures and video were nostalgic.  I did feel like I was taken back in time to middle school as the music and videography seemed dated.  But, the content of the DVD came across and was a wonderful addition to our days' history lesson.  I found that it would be best suited for upper elementary and older.

To top it off, Marshall Publishing provides a Study Guide and Discussion Questions to accompany the video.  You can find that at the website also when you order your copy of the DVD.  These added features would be best for middle schoolers and older.

You can purchase the  George Washington Carver:  His Life and His Work by visiting the Marshall Publishing website.   Normally the price is $19.95 plus shipping and handling, but I'm happy to extend to you a special discount for my readers that will give you 15% off!  That makes your special price only $16.95 plus S&H.  Just enter coupon code TOSC1 at checkout.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family.  I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Say Anything Family Game Review

 It's time for family game night, so break out North Star Games' newest game, Say Anything Family!  For ages 8 and up and for 3-6 people, this game is a great fit for any family's entertainment closet.  It is a fun way to bring the family together and hear what they have to say about some really silly questions. 
"Which superhero outfit looks the most uncomfortable?"
"What would be the coolest make-believe animal?"
If you're the Judge, all of the other players need to write on their dry erase board what they think your answer to the question would be - or, at least, what answer you think would be the best!  Once everyone's answers are written down the Judge will lock in their favorite on the uber cool Select-o-Matic 6000 which is a dial selector to indicate the player's answer you have chosen.  All other players place their "bets" on who they think the Judge has chosen and then the answer is revealed!  Points are given and recorded on the dry erase score board.

My family liked this game just as much as Wits & Wagers Family, another North Star game I did a review for just a few days ago.  Check out the review HERE.  You can visit the North Star Games website HERE to find a store near you to buy Say Anything Family, or get it for the great sale price of $13.85 right now on Amazon.

This game gave my family some great laughs.  We got a little silly with some of our answers to try to throw each other off.  I think I would find the game a little more challenging if we played it with friends.  What a fun way to get to know each other better!  I wasn't to keen on the dry erase concept simply because I imagine the boards will become stained pretty quickly and I'll also have to buy more dry erase markers....or, what if they get lost (which is a probability in my house).  Still, the concept is simple, fun, and interesting.  It's a keeper!

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family.  I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.