Friday, September 13, 2019

TRINIAN- A Book Review

The self-published author of this book, Elizabeth Russell, reached out to me and asked me to review
 her fantasy novel, Trinian. She came across my homeschool blog and noticed my youngest son has 
self-published a novel. Her email to me said: 
“I believe many of your readers would be interested in this book, since it is something that they can
 give their kids without worrying about witchcraft overtones, anti-Christian themes, sensuality, etc,
 and yet it does not come across as preachy or blatantly pushing a Bible agenda. It is clean, exciting, 
and appropriate for ages fifth grade and up. “ 
It is, however, mostly meant for adults, and will remind the reader of the Lord of the Rings, without
 feeling like a copy of it” 
With that introduction, I agreed to review a print copy of her novel. The copy I received seems to be
 a “preview” copy as there were typos, misspelled words, stray letters, etc. I have communicated with 
Elizabeth about this and she should have corrections completed for later editions. When helping my son 
with his editing, we discovered that you cannot edit too much. The more eyes you have helping you
 catch mistakes, the better. Also, it is very beneficial to have a print version to edit before publishing 
 Epic• a long film, book, or other work portraying heroic deeds and
 adventures or covering an extended period of time 
The book is definitely ‘epic’ in length- over 700 pages. It does have heroic deeds and adventures. 
I was a little confused about the length of time covered in the book, possibly several years. I base this
 estimate on the fact that one woman had two babies during the length of the story. 
The Prologue was a little confusing to me, but came into focus as I progressed through 
the book. The demi-gods have names like Power, Solidarity, Greed, etc. Their names 
basically give a clue as to how they will behave and influence people. 
I don’t usually choose to read fantasy novels, but I did read this one to the end. There 
were some character decisions that didn’t make sense to me. For instance, the king 
chooses to send his family away with just a couple guards instead of keeping them in the
 walled city with an army. I understand that created more adventures, but it didn’t seem 
logical to me. 
There is plenty of adventure and swashbuckling in this epic fantasy. Some scenes did remind
 me of a mash-up of C.S. Lewis novels, especially the last battle scene. 
The author has an uncanny understanding of human relationships. Some passages
 portrayed a depth of understanding that many people never acquire. 
The story does have magic and a wizard or two. The author says, “I consider the use of 
magic in the book to be like Lord of the Rings and not witchcraft, since there are no spells 
and the characters have the power within them - they are not calling on external spirits to 
make the magic possible.” There is no sensuality, as promised, which seems to be rare in 
books lately. Some analogies could be made between some characters and Biblical 
characters, but it is not overtly obvious. 
The sheer length of this novel as well as the plot twists and turns are a testament to the 
author’s creative mind. (Could it be shorter and not lose any of the story? Yes, and I will 
address that in a different post) 
Every author has to start somewhere and I applaud Elizabeth Russell for finishing an epic
 fantasy novel. We have had great discussions on improving her work, but for those who
 like fantasy novels, give this one a try and let Elizabeth know what you think. If I was giving
 an Amazon review, it would probably be 3 stars. Not the best thing I’ve ever read,
 but certainly not the worst. 
I think the reading level is probably 7th grade and up. 
Some 5th graders might read it, but most probably wouldn’t.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hands On History Supplement

Many students learn better when their hands are busy.  Popular history curricula often includes hands on activities.

You can create your own hands on activities or purchase supplements.  

A nice addition for a study of American History is the God Bless America coloring book by Multnomah.

Click the link above to see examples of the coloring pages.  You will notice that the pages are not complicated, but are classy, with quotes from American history.

On the back of each coloring page is information about the quote and who said it.  The book covers a variety of people and quotes: Founding Fathers, historic documents, patriotic songs, or other American heroes (astronauts, generals,etc).

Even though it is called an 'adult' coloring book, I know it would be great for students of a variety of grade levels.  

In the back of the book is a link to a playlist to set the mood as well as a quiz to see what your student learned from the book.

This coloring book could be for students who like to be doing something during read aloud time or as a supplement to reinforce a time period or person being studied.

The pages are nice and thick, with images that your student will love.  You might even find yourself tempted to color a page.  Go ahead and indulge your creativity!

What are your favorite history supplements?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: Born For This- How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do

 With the current emphasis seemingly on 'finding your passion', Born for This by Chris Guillebeau attempts to help people make a living while working at their 'passion.'  As Chris says, 

" Doing what brings you joy is great, but if you aren’t earning a living, it’s a hobby, not a career."

For students that will soon pursue a career, or adults needing a career change, this book has some practical insight and great tips.  
Some suggestions will require you to get outside of your comfort zone, but that is often when things start to happen to move you toward your goal.

The book does share practical tips and points out that the author does have a college degree and some skills that he used to get where he is today.

The book jacket says:
  Have you ever met someone with the perfect job? To the outside observer, it seems like they’ve won the career lottery — that by some stroke of luck or circumstance they’ve found the one thing they love so much that it doesn’t even feel like work—and they’re getting paid well to do it.

You’ll learn how to:
• Hack the job of your dreams within a traditional organization by making it work for you
• Find not only your ideal work but also your ideal working conditions
• Create plans that will allow you to take smarter career risks and “beat the house” every time
• Start a profitable “side hustle” and earn extra cash on top of your primary stream of income
• Escape the prison of working for someone else and build a mini-empire as an entrepreneur
• Become a rock star at any creative endeavor by creating a loyal base of fans and followers

Sounds great, right?  
If you follow the tips that Chris outlines in Born for This, you may find the job of your dreams -- the one you would do even if you didn't get paid.  But it will take dedication on your part.

Read the book for inspiration or read (and implement) the book to change your career path.
The choice is yours. 

I received this book free from Blogging for Books for my review. 

 CHRIS GUILLEBEAU  the author  of Born For This,  The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit, and The Art of Non-Conformity, recently completed a personal quest to visit every country in the world (193/193).

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Science Fun

 "School's out for the summer!"  (for some of you)
"School's out forever!" (for those of us who graduated our last student)

Whatever your situation, even if you homeschool year-round, incorporating learning into everyday life is a great way to learn.

My guest post today is by Jamie Strand, a former homeschooler and dad of two girls.  He wants to inspire everybody to be amazed by science.  To that end, he has developed a website that lists science camps all over the country.  It's possible this is not an exhaustive list, so if you know about a science camp that is not listed, let him know.  I know SMU in Dallas, TX hosts science camps in the summer and is not on his list.

Read on for some easy and fun science activities you can do to inspire an interest in science for your child.

 3 Science-Based Lesson Plans for Kids Who Hate Science

There are many reasons some kids hate science. But, it is possible to inspire a love of science in these kids with carefully selected lesson plans and experiments. Here are three science-based lesson plans for kids who hate science. I hope that these activities will turn around kids’ attitudes toward such an important (and fun!) subject.

1. Marker Molecularity

One of the best ways to inspire kids who hate science is to show them the science of everyday objects, like markers. Kids may not realize that most colors are composed of several different dyes, and even more tiny molecules. For this lesson, you’ll need a bowl of clean water, strips of paper towels, and markers of 3 or more different non-primary colors (like orange, green, and pink).
Image via Pixabay via TBIT

Put a different colored wavy line on each strip, about an inch from the edge. Ask the child to make a hypothesis about what will happen when the strip touches the water.
Next, instruct the child to dip a strip into the water so the bottom edge is submerged, but not the wavy line. Hold the strip in place until the water begins to absorb into the towel, making the ink mark spread. Have the child note his observations. Then, ask him to make a new hypothesis for the remaining strips. Finally, repeat the dipping process with each strip. The child will see that the various dyes in each color are revealed.

Explain that the water molecules bond with the ink molecules, spreading them out on the paper towel. This process of separating the dyes, as with separating the components of any mixture, is called chromatography.

2. Transparent Plants

Some kids hate science because they can’t visualize the concepts. One science-based lesson plan for kids like this is Transparent Plants. Transparent Plants is a fun and easy way to let students learn about plants by watching a real seed grow and sprout.

You’ll need CD cases, potting soil, water, and lima beans. First, have the kids fill the CD case with a little potting soil. Be sure the hinges of the CD case are at the top so they will stand up without allowing the dirt to fall out. Next, plant the bean high in the soil and tape the bottom shut. Use a dropper to water the bean through the opening at the top of the CD case and place it in the sunlight.

Kids will observe the plant grow, and they should measure its growth and record the changes they observe in their plant every few days. It’s also helpful to supply the children with journals or bean growth sheets so they can easily track the plant’s growth. After about a week, give the students markers or paint pens to label the parts of the plant directly on the CD case. 

3. The Physics of Pool Temperatures

Science lessons don’t have to take place solely in a classroom setting, and one of the best ways to get kids excited about the subject is to head to every kid’s favorite spot: the swimming pool. It’s best if you can get to a large pool, though this lesson can be adapted for a kiddie pool. Grab paper and pencil, your bathing suit, appropriate safety gear, sunscreen, towels, a pool thermometer, and a couple pairs of goggles to learn about the Physics of Pool Temperatures. (Don’t be afraid to make adjustments depending on your child’s swimming abilities!)

If possible, first visit the pool in the morning to stick your toes in the water and check the temperature. Have your child record the time, outside temperature, and water temperature on a piece of paper.

Return to the pool in the afternoon when the sun has had some time to shine. Test the water again and record the time and temperature. Next, jump right in! Swim around to different depths and see how the temperature varies. Using your goggles, swim to the deepest section of the pool and check the temperature. Record all the information you gather. If you’re at a public pool and there’s a child’s pool present, compare the differences in temperature between the large and small pools. Discuss thermodynamics and why different volumes and levels of water may differ in temperature, as well as how the sun and time of day affects it.

By using common objects and showing kids the science that is around them in everyday life, you most likely will spark their interest in science. The more fun science activities you conduct with them, the more they will use their natural curiosity to ask questions, make hypotheses, and want to know why things work in the ways that they do. In the process, you may just inspire a love of science in the kids who hate it.

Jamie Strand is a former homeschool kid and unashamed science nerd. He’s a community college professor and proud father of two daughters who wants to inspire a passion for science and math in today’s young people. That goal drove him to start with help from a good friend. When he isn’t teaching, Jamie can often be found digging for fossils in the backyard with his daughters, exploring the local nature preserve, or binge watching Star Trek reruns.
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