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Electives Reviews

Architecture / History: The David Macaulay Series
Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory
Artistic Pursuits
DotBalancing The Sword
Christian Heroes: Then & Now (Series)
Classical Kids Series on CD or Cassette
Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists - Series
How to Grow a Young Music Lover
Italian in 10 Minutes a Day Kit with Audio CDs
Jonathan Park Series, Volumes 1-4 on Audio CD
Jon Gnagy Original Learn to Draw Kit & Jon Gnagy Art Studio Set
Journeys of Faithfulness
Learnables (French)
Learning with the Movies
Piano for Life, 3 DVDs
Pilgrims Progress (Logos Edition)
Rosetta Stone French, Level 1 Kit
Safe Young Drivers - A Guide for Parents and Teens
SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student
Secrets of Great Communicators
Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la
SET & Quiddler
Stories of the Great Composers, Book 1 & CD
Teach Me Tapes
The Big Book of Questions & Answers About Jesus: A Family Guide to Jesus' Life and Ministry
The Children's Bible in 365 Stories
The Pistol: Inspirational Edition DVD
The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills
The Total Money Makeover, Revised and Updated
Then Sings My Soul, Volume 1 & Hymns for a Kid’s Heart
Window on the World

Architecture / History: The David Macaulay Series
A review by Karen Andreola

Pyramid
Pyramid
David Macaulay / Houghton-mifflin / 1982
I can remember the days when my living room floor was strewn with large wooden blocks, some with arches carved out of them, and a few cylindrical columns. In the middle of the rubble sat a four-year-old embarking upon an architectural design - a crude construction yes, but one that exercised his imagination and experimented with the laws of gravity. Oh, the tears when a tower accidentally crashed to the ground. Building is slow and careful work. No one likes to see his work destroyed in a moment. Perhaps these childhood experiences give the student years later, the ability to admire the slow, careful work of the ancient designers and builders of David Macaulays books.
The ancient structures were fascinating but how were they built? Mr. Macaulay explains how, step by step. He has combined his architectural training with extensive research (he liked to visit a site) to create one of my favorite kinds of books; the educational story. He writes with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of awe for his subject - qualities not found in a typical schoolbook. Starting with the first block, he shows us how these famous structures were constructed to completion with his accurate, generous pen drawings.
Pyramid Rising up from the desert the pyramids stand before us as towering remnants of ancient Egyptian culture, built to deny the finality death and the limitations of time.
City The Romans were masters of the art of city planning. Macaulay’s imaginary city of Verbonia shows just how the Romans planned and built their streets, bridges, walls, sewer systems, market squares, shops, private homes and public baths.
Castle In the 13th century, when England was attempting to conquer Wales, the English built impressive fortresses with adjoining towns. We trace the steps from the hiring of a skilled master engineer to the actual test of castle defenses when hundreds of Welsh soldiers launched a direct attack. Caldecott Honor Book
Cathedral One of man’s most magnificent expressions as well as one of his grandest architectural achievements. Built to the glory of God, created by ingenuity, skill, and hard work of generations of dedicated people. Each craftsman’s contribution is presented. There were quarryman, stone cutters, sculptors, mortar makers, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, roofers, and glass makers.
Houghton Mifflin

Essentials of Music Theory
Essentials of Music Theory, Volume 1, Student Version CD-ROM
Alfred Publishing Co Inc / 1999

Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory
A review by Yolanda Andreola

After studying cello for three years my mother realized that the pieces I played were more difficult ones but I had only had little music theory. She wanted me to have some thorough grounding in the basics. The exercises on this CD-ROM provide just that. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory helped me remember the notes of the different clefts, determine how many beats there are in different notes and rests, learn the symbols and Italian words used for dynamics, speed, etc. I recommend these exercises for beginners or for those who can play an instrument but know only little theory.

Artistic Pursuits: The Elements of Art & Comp, Jr. High, Book 1
by Brenda Ellis
A review by Sophia Andreola

Artistic Pursuits
Artistic Pursuits: The Elements of Art & Comp, Jr. High, Book 1
Brenda Wright Ellis / Artistic Pursuits Inc / 2001
I was not born an artist. In fact some of my first attempts at putting what I saw on paper gave my mother cause for concern. Was I just especially poor at drawing or was something wrong with me neurologically. Keep in mind that being a first child I am more of a worry to my parents as everything I do is a surprise. I was oblivious, however, to my inferior work (disorganized scribbles) and continued drawing. My mother always managed to point out something she liked about my art. She was happy I actually found something I enjoyed doing that involved sitting still.

When it comes to drawing I have been primarily self-taught except for the words of my mother, “draw what you see,” and the occasional instruction leaflet that explained how to draw a shape and shade it in. These were somewhat helpful. As I reached my teens I found something more helpful. I began copying (in pencil) the artwork I admired by the great masters. Therefore, I wanted an art course with more detail. When my mother speaks at homeschool conferences she also browses the vendors for interesting material for her children. One spring she returned from one such conference with Artistic Pursuits for all of us. “Thanks, it’s just what I’ve been looking for,” I said.

Each book has sixteen units on topics such as: texture, value, balance, depth, and proportion. What really pleases me the most are the copies of the great masters’ work. A different post card size painting is used as the focus of each lesson. Artistic Pursuits courses come in a variety of books for different grade level abilities.

Balancing The Sword
by Allen B. Wolfe
A review by Dean Andreola

Balancing the Sword
Balancing The Sword
Allen B. Wolfe / Balancing The Sword / Hardcover / 2005
I visited my sweet-old Italian aunt, years ago, just after she became a Christian. Over tea, we discussed the wonderful things she was learning from her Bible. My uncle Nick, irritated at this, said, "Gracie, you reda duh Bible a wunsa, now forget it!" Well, here is a course designed so we won't "forget it"! Right on the cover of it states, "You must know what the Bible says before you can know what it means." That's the main focus of Balancing the Sword. These two beautifully bound volumes can take you and your family on an incredible journey through the entire Bible, gleaning deeper wisdom and inspiration directly from the pages of Scripture. Every lesson begins with a Bible reading followed by a series of carefully crafted questions designed to test your comprehension and draw attention to vital details you may otherwise overlook. Virtually all the major points of each chapter and book are highlighted through these revealing questions, so retention is vastly improved! In addition, both volumes contain thousands of cross-references, detailed antique illustrations, maps, tables, and an answer key. Ample room is provided to write in answers, as well as journal your discoveries along the way. I particularly enjoyed the many hundreds of inspiring quotes from people like Washington, Webster, Spurgeon, and Moody on the importance of Scripture reading. It's big, but never overwhelming because the bonus CD offers a Bible Reading Planner so you can create a plan that best suits your family or student's schedule. Though ideal for devotional study, Balancing the Sword is challenging enough to be used as part of your homeschool Bible curriculum or group study. It has already been met with great success as a12-credit hour lecture course at a major university! Balancing the Sword is one of the best spiritual armor building tools I have seen in a long time. Learn to love God more and live right, by the Book! ---Dean

***(For all ages, as younger folks will benefit from listening to the readings, questions, and discussions that follow.)


Christian Heroes: Then & Now (Series)
by Janet & Geoff Benge

Series includes:
Amy Carmicael: Rescuer of Precious Gems
Corrie then Boom: Keeper of the Angels' Den
Eric Liddell: Something Greater than Gold
Gladys Ayward: The Adventure of a Lifetime
Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China
Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer

A review by Dean Andreola

Betty Greene
Christian Heroes: Then & Now
Janet & Geoff Benge

... nineteen titles in all, check CBD’s online homeschool catalog for latest selection…
Ywam Publishing / 2000

Missionary Monday
The most memorable and inspiring times I can recall from attending Bible College many years ago as a young Christian, was Monday morning chapel hour. It was during these special times that we students got to hear the often exciting testimonies of visiting missionaries from around the world. It was a great encouragement to my faith to know how God was using his people to reach a lost world for Christ. As time and providence would have it, I began a career in Christian publishing that eventually allowed me to hear a calling to serve overseas in a literature mission. Out on the mission field, our family got to hear first hand stories of the work in China, India, Africa and the Middle East. Looking back, the most discouraging aspect of my work in literature missions was the fact that the sections in Christian bookstores that held missions related books were the least visited by the church going public.
While speaking at a Homeschool conference last year, I managed a little time off to walk the book display area. I stopped by the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Publishing booth. Here I was introduced to an new series of missionary biographies called Christian Heroes: Then & Now. The authors Janet and Geoff Benge are well qualified to write about their favorite missions heroes having served ten years with Youth With A Mission.
One year I took a few of these books home and began a new tradition in our home called “Missionary Monday.” Based upon the chapel hour of my college days, I desired to instill in my children a respect for missions and an understanding of “How beautiful are the feet of those that bring His good news.” On Monday evenings we read a chapter from the series, have a brief time of discussion, and end with prayer for modern day missionaries that we are familiar with through church and newsletters. We began with the stories of Gladys Aylward and Eric Liddell (of Chariots of Fire fame) who both served in China during the early part of this century. We not only learned about the people, history and political struggles of the Chinese, we learned how God in His grace used both gifted and ordinary people to dramatically share His love.
Having a Missionary Monday is no garantee my children will take up a life of service on a foreign field, but I believe that as we introduce them to the lives of those who have gone before them, they may be more inclined to be thinking and praying about how they may be used of God as they make their gifts, time and talents available to Him.

Dean

Classical Kids Series on CD or Cassette
Series includes:
Beethoven Lives Upstairs
Mr. Bach Comes to Call
Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery
Mozart’s Magic Fantasy
Hallelujah Handel
Tchaikovsky Discovers America

A review by Karen Andreola

Beethoven Lives Upstairs
Classical Kids Series on CD or Cassette

Classical Kids / Children's Book Store Dist. / 2000

Our family’s ability to recognize a piece of music and attribute it to a certain composer has come partly as a result of Classical Kids. “Hey mommy, that’s Bach” has been called out in exaltation by one of the youngsters upon recognizing a piece of music heard on one of these tapes.

Beethoven Lives Upstairs
Even if you’re not a classical music buff, you’ll immediately recognize the back ground music of the first scene on this story tape - though you may not know it by its title, Beethoven’s Symphony #7. In this unique recording children learn about Beethoven’s music and character through a lively exchange of letters between a boy and his uncle. The boy, Christiph, is angry and confused by the behavior of the man who has recently rented the room upstairs. The man Beethoven hammers his Piano all night, pours water over his head to stay awake, quarrels with housekeepers, and commits other acts of eccentricity all true of Beethoven’s life. Christoph’s uncle knows Beethoven, however, and in his letters to Christoph explains about the tragedy of the composers' deafness. Eventually Christoph comes to understand Beethoven and to appreciate his love of nature and the greatness of his music. The story ends with Christoph attending the famous first performance of the Ninth Symphony. Da. . da. . da. . dummmmmmm! Pieces of Beethoven’s music are played through the story.

Mr. Bach Comes to Call
This story tape opens with the actual recording of NASA’s countdown to launch Voyager 2. A list of the contents of the capsule sent on that voyage is read. Among the contents, which is chosen to represent the people of earth, is the music of Bach. The next scene takes place in the living room where 8 year old Elizabeth is at a piano practicing the Minuet in G. She expresses her lack of enthusiasm to her mother who says a few words of admonition and leaves Elizabeth to her playing. Moments later Bach enters, and in his Arnold Schwarzenegger accent gives his light-hearted encouragement. Elisabeth is surprised to learn he is the man who wrote the music she is play. Bach reminisces and shares stories of his life.

Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery
This is our families favorite of the Classical Kids collection. Vivaldi spent part of his life as the music director in an orphanage in Venice. The story focuses on the life of a fictitious character, Katarina, who enters the orphanage with many questions about her past, an intriguing mystery to her. When she accidentally drops and breaks a Stradivarius violin she feels compelled to break some of the rules of the orphanage to have it repaired. She ventures out at night onto the gloomy canals of Venice with the help of Giovanni the gondolier. We pick up clues to the mystery of her past along the way as two dozen excerpts of Vivaldi’s compositions flow throughout the scenes.

(There may be some small references in the tapes to which you object, or which you may want to discuss with your children. As with any resource that is not produced from a Christian perspective, be discerning.)

Mozart’s Magic Fantasy
Introducing opera to children could be a challenge. But Mozart’s fairy tale opera is naturally appealing to them. In this story young Sarah arrives at a rehearsal of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and awaits backstage for her mother, a flutist in the orchestra. Suddenly she is swept into a fantasy land: it is Mozart’s opera, where she meets a talking dragon and Papegeno, the colorful birdman. Together they journey through the realm of the wicked Queen of the Night (akin to Lewis’ White Witch of Narnia) to Sarastro’s Castle. With the help of the magic flute and tinkling bells, Princess Pamina is rescued and Papageno finds his Papagena. There is a man whom the Queen declares is a sorcerer but we discover he is really the King and a good man. In the end of this exciting but exhausting adventure, Sarah is ready to return to her own world. At the second playing of our tape I found my children straining to sing along with the soprano parts and to “Pa pa pa pa pa pageeeeno.”

New to the collection:
Hallelujah Handel
Tchaikovsky Discovers America

Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men
by Bob Shultz
A review by Dean Andreola

Created for Work
Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men
Bob Shultz / Great Expectations Co / Paperback / 2006
Every boy dreams about what he might be when he grows up. Parents pray that whatever he chooses, he may be successful. Yet even a good education is no guarantee. Without a healthy attitude toward good old- fashioned WORK, young men may continue to dream and not attain God's best for them! Is your son required to do household chores? Does he have a part-time job after school to earn some extra cash, or is he taking his first scary steps toward a real vocation? Bob Schultz, (author of Boyhood and Beyond), offers a warm hearted guide, filled with stories from real life, to teach young men what it means to be good honest workers, even in the humblest of positions. Created for Work teaches the importance of: following directions, thinking creatively, respecting authority, handling money, happily completing tasks in a timely manner, and much more. Created for Work will encourage young men to develop excellent working habits that will benefit them, their families and employers for a lifetime! This is a highly recommended one-of-a-kind resource for boys 12 & up. Questions at the end of each chapter also make Created for Work a great read aloud for father & son or youth group discussion. --Dean

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
by Anna Harwell Celenza
A review by Nigel Andreola

Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
Anna Harwell Celenza / Charlesbridge Publishing / Hardcover / 2006
My father said that while growing up Rhapsody in Blue was the most listened to of all the records he owned. So, naturally I have heard this piece often. Being a piano player myself, I have always wondered what inspired Gershwin to write such a radical yet beautiful concerto. One day when I was sick in bed a box arrived. In it was a collection of picture books. From the big pile, I feverishly stumbled upon Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue! I was surprised to learn that Gershwin had only five weeks to come up with something completely new and different. He was searching for a sound that no one had heard before. What a challenge! My fascination for music has led me to books of all sorts, but seldom have I seen one that captures the style of the times the way this elegant 32-page picture book does. The beautifully stylized watercolor illustrations offer an uncanny view into the 1920's and it reads with the same fast pace rhythm of the rhapsody! Follow the witty dialog, inspirations, emotions, and reverie that lead up to the fantastical jazzy climax of the composing of Rhapsody in Blue! Then listen to the included CD preformed by Gershwin himself (from a1925 piano roll) and the Columbia Jazz Band. For music lovers of all ages who desire to be more Gershwin savvy. --Nigel

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists - Series
by Various Authors
A review by Karen Andreola


Van Gogh
Da Vinci
Edgar Degas
Frederic Remington
Grandma Moses
Mary Cassatt
Michelangelo
Norman Rockwell
Paul Cezanne
Picasso
Raphael
Renoir
Van Gogh
Winslow Homer
Grolier Publishing Company / Paperback
While it is true that an artist's worldview will almost always show up in his art, this serious side of art can be examined later. Meanwhile introduce a young child to the world's most notable artists with a sense of humor. And let them just appreciate. Art appreciation is what these little 32-page books are good for. They may be little but they have an important feature. Each displays an average of twenty of an artist's most famous pieces - enough to really get a good feel for an artist's distinguishable style. The print is large, the text easy to read yet pertinent. What make these books approachable are their colorful cartoons depicting the comic side of each artist's idiosyncrasies. All my children took an interest in reading these funny, informative books during their leisure. In my memory I picture them sprawled out on the rug while I cooked supper, with one of these books open before them, riveted. I recall a few docile nudes (Michelangelo, I'm sure of) but these were not an issue with our family.

- Karen


How to Grow a Young Music Lover
by Cheri Fuller
A review by Sophia Andreola


How to Grow a Young Music Lover
How to Grow a Young Music Lover
Random House, Inc / Paperback / 1994
The little girl, messy hair tumbling round her face, flung her self about the room, the way children will when dancing to their favorite music. That little girl was me. Those same songs are still some of my favorites and have a way of touching my heart more than recent songs can. A life without music is like a world without color. The beauty, joy, encouragement and comfort music brings to one's life is priceless. When I play music at the nursing homes with my brother and sister, I am reminded that you don't have to be young to appreciate it! The love of music, however, must be learned. The best time for this is as a young child. Experts believe that children's exposure to music in the early years determines both their future musical ability as well as their capacity to enjoy music. I am a violin teacher and always on the lookout for good books on teaching music. When I came across How to Grow a Young Music Lover by Cheri Fuller, I immediately wished that all my students' parents would read it. Written specifically for parents and with a Christian perspective, it is a good book for homeschooling families. Music teachers only work with a child once a week. It is parents that can most effectively bring music to their child's life, like my mom and dad did for "that little girl" years ago. This book will coach and guide you as you bring the gift of music appreciation to your child with such chapters as... The Joys and Benefits of Music Making, Music Games and Activities, Time line of selected Composers, and Music in Our Spiritual Lives.

- Sophia


Italian in 10 Minutes a Day Kit with Audio CDs
by Kristine K. Kershul
A review by Sophia Andreola


Italian in 10 minutes a day
Italian in 10 Minutes a Day Kit with Audio CDs
Bilingual Books, Inc / CD / 2005
I studied French in high school, but my heart is drawn to Italian. I believe it to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It has been a goal of mine to study Italian, but with my working schedule, I didn't know how I'd find the time. Italian in Ten Minutes a Day gave me new hope. I like the flexibility it offers with the option to use the colorful, well-illustrated book and 6 CD's separately or together. When used together I found study time to be realistically longer than ten minutes. The lessons however, are concise and focused. They cover one topic at a time such as: numbers, colors, household objects, food, seasons, and the days of the week. I enjoyed the sticky labels included in the workbook. One afternoon my family found little yellow stickers around the house labeling various household objects in their Italian names. I also enjoy the different Italian accents used on the CDs. It keeps it interesting and gives you a better ear for the language. Italian in Ten Minutes a Day is a thorough but not threatening introduction to the Italian language. It has helped keep me inspired and interested in pursuing my language studies further. Also includes flash cards, puzzles, quizzes and more. CIAO!

- Sophia

Audio CD kits are also available in French and Spanish.

Jonathan Park Series, Volumes 1-4 on Audio CD
by Jonathan Park
A review by Nigel Andreola


Jonathan Park Series
Jonathan Park Series, Volumes 1-4 on Audio CD
The Vision Forum, Inc / CD / 2006
This compact disk set of dramatized adventures is the corniest most scientifically informative and educational audio series I have yet heard. It is relatively similar to The Adventures in Odyssey in style of performance although a completely different sort of story and characters. The programs theme is on creation science. The main characters of the story are creation scientists who are exceedingly into their occupation of trying to get people to realize that evolution is scientifically impossible by means of showing them the evidence in support of creation and evidence in opposition to evolution. Being strongly Christianized this program is packed with moral and Bible lessons. The adventures although rather unlikely are very exiting and faith building. This program was designed for the benefit and entertainment of all ages for the whole family. There are explosions for the boys horse, riding trips with girls on behalf of girls, stressful employment experiences and parents through faith working though family catastrophes for parents and grandparents alike. I have personally enjoyed listening to this program while painting or looking at the study guide that comes with it and I declare it is worth the purchase.

- Nigel


Jon Gnagy Original Learn to Draw Kit & Jon Gnagy Art Studio Set
by Jon Gnagy
A review by Dean Andreola

Jon Gnagy Original Learn to Draw Kit
Jon Gnagy Original Learn to Draw Kit
Jon Gnagy / Martin F. Weber Co
Jon Gnagy Art Studio Set
Jon Gnagy Art Studio Set
Jon Gnagy / Martin F. Weber Co
Are you looking for a modestly priced art course with a proven record for awakening hidden talent? This is it! Past generations may remember Jon Gnagy as the TV instructor who could teach almost anyone to draw! I got my first kit when I was ten years old, and loved it. With no previous experience I drew a Great Dane that looked real enough to jump off the page! Our children have all drawn pictures from Jon's Learn to Draw kit. Nigel's friend James was a beginner at drawing. We loaned him our old copy of Jon Gnagy's book. James made such rapid progress in his drawing ability that I decided to find out if the old course was still available. And here it is. A blast from the past! It still comes with art pencils, sketching chalk, paper, eraser, shading tool, a drawing board, and the 64 page Learn to Draw book. The student first learns how to use the artist tools to make shapes, shades, textures and shadows, then moves ahead to composition and perspective. Jon teaches, using a step-by-step method, how to draw eight pictures. Children (&adults) will be surprised at how much their finished pictures look like Jon's. The principles learned in this course will be employed when students create their own pictures. The current edition puts all instruction into three languages, so the English text now appears smaller than in the books of yesteryear. Jon Gnagy Art Studio includes additional books and materials for pencil drawing, watercolors, and oil pastels. Ages 8 to adult. --Dean

Journeys of Faithfulness—Stories for the Heart for Faithful Girls
by Sarah Clarkson
A review by Yolanda Andreola

Journeys of Faithfuless: Stories for the Heart for Faithful Girls
Journeys of Faithfulness:
Stories for the Heart for Faithful Girls

Sarah Clarkson / Faithworks Publications / 2002
Sarah Clarkson, a girl who like me, was always home schooled, wrote a devotional. She chose four women of the Bible who have inspired her in her Christian walk: Ruth, Mary of Bethany, Esther, and Mary the mother of Jesus. During her personal study, Sarah tried to imagine what these woman were thinking and feeling. She added these reflections into her devotional stories.
I like her story about Mary of Bethany who anoints Jesus’ feet with her costly perfume, and wipes them with her hair. Here Sarah shares how God used Mary’s faithfulness to remind her to give her best to Him. Sarah offers encouragement for things all Christian girls struggle with from time to time like loneliness, waiting for peace, having a good attitude and adapting to change. These all relate to one theme: being faithful to God.
There are scriptural references, and questions to guide our thinking and help us girls make application to our own journeys of faithfulness.
 

192 pages in paper back.


Learnables (French)
A review by Sophia Andreola

Basic Structures French

Learnables Series (French)

International Linguistics Corp

I first became acquainted with the French language when I was seven years old. My mother taught me such words as la porte -door, la chaise - chair, and le crayon - pencil. As the years went by I learned to say phrases in French such as, “Hello, my name is Sophia - what’s yours?" and "It’s raining.” This was the beginning of my foreign vocabulary.
When I began high school my mother told me it was time to take French more seriously. A box was dropped at the door. “Your French course is here!” announced my mother with a big smile. I secretly found myself feeling apprehensive. Learning a whole new language seemed intimidating. However, when I was handed a set of cassettes and thumbed through the Learnables French, Book One, I was surprised at how agreeable and welcoming the course looked. While using Learnables, French became one of my favorite subjects.
The first step to the course is to look at a series of pictures that go along with the set of audio cassettes. One lesson of listening (to words and phrases) takes 20 minutes and incorporates 100 small pictures. The second step Basic Structures, is what I liked best. I enjoyed listening to the native French woman speak while reading along with the French sentences that correspond with the amusing cartoon stories. The exercises in Basic Structures require the student to match an action sentence with what is happening in the cartoon. There is no English translation in the course at all. The cartoons are what explain and verify the meaning of the printed French sentences. I think it’s a clever method of teaching a language.
Younger students can easily start learning a language with Learnables, beginning at age eight, covering the material at a slower pace. High school students can go through the course faster leaving them with a good understanding of the language and a solid foundation on which to build further studies.
Learnables 1,2 and Basic Structures 1 is equivalent to the first year of high school.
The course also comes in Spanish and German.

Learning with the Movies: A Guide for Education and Fun
by Beth Holland
Saves you valuable time at the library and video rental!
A review by Dean Andreola

 

Learning With the Movies
Learning with the Movies
Beth Holland / Bread For Life
I grew up just outside of Manhattan during the Golden Age of television. Our TV must have picked up at least 10 stations, and most of them played old movie reruns. Because my school experience was so boring, I spent too much time in front of the tube, but as a result I became a bit of an old movie buff. Given this background, it seems natural that films now play a useful role in our homeschool. After the children demonstrate effort in their studies, it is a treat for them to see the time period, characters, and costumes brought to life through a good movie. This is especially true while studying history, and literature. For years Karen suggested I write a homeschool guide to the films I watched as kid, but thankfully Beth Holland (a former actress and drama teacher, turned homeschool mom) has saved me the effort with her new book! Divided into major categories & time periods, you can easily find a suitable film recommendation for your chosen subject or unit study. She covers Bible Times, Ancient History, Middle Ages, Reformation, Early America, World Wars, Music and the Arts, Sports, Great Works of Literature, Biographies, Science, Family Films and more. Like me, she seems to prefer the older movies made when family values and higher morals were the norm. My private joy is to hear the children say, " the movie was good dad, but the book was better!"
--Dean

Piano for Life, 3 DVDs
by Mark Almond
A review by Nigel Andreola


Piano for Life
Piano for Life, 3 DVDs
Piano For Life / DVD / 2000
Are you thinking of taking up the piano? Have you taken lessons then quit because you thought you didn’t have the talent? Maybe you just felt it was going to take too long to develop the skills needed to play your favorite songs. Then Piano for Life is for you! This three part video series teaches chord symbols, harmony and technique. Within the first few lessons you learn to improvise based on a set of chords. You even learn how to take any melody and play the correct harmonies!

I have been taking piano lessons for thee years from my excellent piano teacher who lives next door. He taught me the same things that this program teaches, so I know that this method really works! Yet there is a twist to Mark Almond’s method. While my teacher started teaching me to read music on the first lesson, this program does it at the end. Mr. Almond wants students to focus on playing by ear and developing skills and theory that will ultimately help their music reading ability, especially when playing difficult songs.

Learning to play can be a dream-come-true for someone in your family, so if you think its time to dust off the keys and bring that piano back to life, then I recommend Piano for Life! (for ages 12 & up, younger students will need parent’s help)

- Nigel


Pilgrims Progress (Logos Edition)
by John Bunyon
A review by Karen Andreola

The Pilgrim's Progress
The Pilgrim's Progress in Modern English, Updated Edition
John Bunyan; L. Edward Hazelbaker, ed. / Bridge-logos Publishing / 1998
Anyone who is aquatinted with our family knows we’ve moved a lot. As soon as we begin to feel settled we have to pack up and move again. Our friends probably cannot fit another Andreola address onto the “A” page of their address books unless they know us well enough to have used pencil. Although we have changed residences from state to state, town to town, the children have always gone to the same school - our little homeschool. Our portable homeschool remains a constant thing among so many changes - new neighborhood, new church, new friends, new dentist, new grocery store, etc. Something else is portable too. It’s our Christian faith. We are patriotic Americans yet we are also citizens of another country—the kingdom of God. We are sojourners and pilgrims that need not become so perfectly settled here in this world.
This is one of the lessons I have learned by reading Pilgrims Progress. Being a story that combines the physical journey of the main character “Christian” with that of a spiritual journey, makes it a valuable book for all readers.
In 1660 the Puritan John Bunyon was imprisoned for twelve years for preaching (sharing the gospel) without a license. Bunyon was a tinker with very little formal education but with a great love for one book, the Bible. Pilgrims Progress ( said to be the first Christian novel) was written in his prison cell. During this strenuous ordeal Bunyon’s powers of recollection must have been intensified. Biblical truth emanates from his simple and straightforward writing and blends with his imagination to create unforgettable, genuine, characters. These allegorical characters are similar to those we are likely to encounter today. Who, in real life, has not known a Mr. Pliable, a Mr. Worldly-wise, Mr. Vain-Confidence, or a Mr. Money-love? And just as in real life there are characters who make it to the “Celestial City” and others who sadly do not. Only those that lay their burden of sin at the cross and follow the narrow path - the way of the Lord - are victorious.
For generations Christians have found a kinship with Pilgrims Progress . It is my opinion that no Christian home should be without this favorite of books. And my opinions are not always so bold.
-Karen

Rosetta Stone French, Level 1 Kit
A review by Dean Andreola


RosettaStone French
Rosetta Stone French, Level 1 Kit
Fairfield Language Technology
I am the only one in my family who has not studied French. So it seemed fitting that I should review Rosetta Stone, putting myself in the same category as a new French student. What a surprise! Within minutes of loading the program onto my computer I was headlong into my first interactive lesson and scoring well to boot! Within the hour I was easily recognizing written and spoken words and matching them to beautiful full color photographs. Then I moved on to pronunciation, comparing my voice patterns and inflections with a native speaker, as shown by a meter and pattern graph. After a few tries, the meter rose from red to green, I was not only getting it, I was having fun! Nigel entered the room and said, “ Dad, let me try”! “Later, Nigel”, I replied.

Rosetta Stone teaches language the same way we learned our first language, by direct association with words, written and spoken, and with objects, actions, and ideas that convey meaning, so no tedious translation is necessary. Each lesson builds on foundations previously laid, so there is always much to recognize, not memorize. And I like that, not being very astute at memorization myself. It seemed to me that Rosetta Stone was actually helping me to “think” in French! Even grammar usage and vocabulary are taught through real life examples with plenty of opportunities to use them. When I skipped ahead to the end of the program I was still getting some correct answers because I was able to recognize root words from the earlier lessons.

Listening, reading, speaking and writing are covered using a CD Rom containing potentially hundreds of hours of creative and inviting lessons, along with a printed study guide assisting in basic grammar, usage, and new vocabulary. The workbook offers additional recognition and writing exercises. A teachers guide, answer key and student management system (if desired for one or more students) complete the package. This course has received rave reviews from many sectors - from homeschoolers and computer companies, to members of the U.S. State Department! Level 1 alone is equivalent to two years of high school study, yet can be used by much younger students. But more importantly, Rosetta Stone students are simply more comfortable with listening and speaking the language. What more could you ask for? (PC/Mac compatible. Requires microphone)

- Dean


Safe Young Drivers - A Guide for Parents and Teens
by Phil Beradelli
A review by Dean Andreola


Safe Young Drivers
Safe Young Drivers - A Guide for Parents and Teens
Phil Beradelli / Nautilus Communications Inc
“Drive Safely, Be a Lightfoot!” That’s what the author wrote inside my autographed copy of Safe Young Drivers. Our local paper recently reported the sad loss of four teens in two separate auto accidents in one weekend! The police reported speed was a factor. Our children are our most precious possessions. All loving parents have endeavored to lead their children safely to adulthood. Then Man created driving! Safe Young Drivers may be the next best thing to dressing your teens in full body armor before they get behind the wheel for the first time! Mr. Beradelli addresses the maturity of attitude as well as the expert skills needed for safe driving. Each short lesson offers separate reading for parents and teens. Then it’s time for some experience behind the wheel. Step by step instruction cover everything from stoplights and night driving, to merging onto busy highways and avoiding accidents on rainy days. The small spiral bound book is easy for the teacher to handle, and includes a lesson log to keep track of clocked time and progress…all in preparation for that fateful day: the drivers test! Safe Young Drivers may very well be a 174 page live-saver! - Dean

SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student
By James Stobaugh
A review by Dean Andreola

The SAT & College Preparation Course
The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student
Dr. James P. Stobaugh / Great Expectations Co / 1998
A great course made even better! This new and expanded edition now includes a variety of essay examples and writing exercises, higher-level math problems, and advanced reading selections to enhance critical-thinking skills. Nearly 100 pages of additional material have been added!

The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student (now geared to the 2005 test standard) is unique in the Christian educational world. It offers diligent students the promise of higher scores on their SATs in an easy-to-follow devotional format. This is not a cram course. It is a slow and steady method of preparation. It strengthens a students' personal faith and loyalty to Christ while building disciplined study skills for college. IN this way, both the intellectual and spiritual muscles of the student are developed.

<>The literature-based course challenges students to do a lot of reading from the types of books that will be required in college. An annotated book list is included. The student keeps a personal list of new vocabulary gleaned from the literature he reads. He also becomes accustomed to doing the same types of exercises he will face on the SAT, such as critical thinking, essay, and math problems. Practical techniques for test-taking are given throughout the book. The spiritual truths gained within the Bible readings are meant to be a reservoir of strength from which the student can draw not only on the day of the SAY exam, but also throughout his life. This one-year supplemental course if for grade 11 but can be used as early as grade 9 but following the included 2- or 3-year plan. Highly recommended! 344 pages, softcover from Great Expectation. —Dean

Secrets of Great Communicators
by Jeff Myers, Ph.D.
A review by Dean Andreola

Secrets of Great Communicators
Secrets of Great Communicators
Jeff Myers, Ph.D. / Myers Institute
Next to a godly character, the ability to positively influence the hearts and minds of others through the spoken word is the next great gift you can give your children. This subject hits close to home for Karen and me. Motivational public speaking and writing have become a major part of our ministry and livelihood. I have taken five complete speech courses over the years and Secrets of Great Communicators is the cream of the crop! I am using it with a group of teens this year.

Drawing from the creative talents of people like Patrick Henry, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Billy Graham, Dr. Jeff Meyers has prepared six practical and entertaining lessons using two videos and a student workbook filled with inspiring true stories, quotes and techniques from some of the world’s greatest communicators past and present. Not only will your students overcome a natural fear of public speaking, they will learn how to organize, write and give dynamic presentations. Whether they will be teaching Sunday school, sharing their faith on the mission field, instructing and motivating co-workers, or speaking to thousands like Karen and I, it all begins with proper instruction and the interesting stories and enthusiasm of a great teacher. This course will pay for itself countless times over as your children apply these vital lessons throughout their lives!

Dean

Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la
by Barbara Edtl Shelton
Review by Karen Andreola

Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+LA
Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la, Updated
Barbara Edtl Shelton / Homeschool Seminars And Pub. / 1999
The thought of homeschooling through the high school years can put one in a tizzy. When the time drew nigh to teach high school there were days when my heart beat faster. However, after spending some quiet time reading Senior High: A Home-Designed Formula I felt my heart rate return to normal. I am not an organized person by nature so I knew I needed this book. The first chapter is Reinforcement for the Fainthearted that helps the parent establish goals and find fortitude in Jesus. Another chapter reviews requirements and guidelines for graduation. The parent may choose from many kinds of photocopy-able planning and record keeping sheets. Samples provided on grading criteria and course descriptions are what I value most in the book. The grading method is a meaningful one. Because we use lots of “living” (real) books, free-style essay writing, and life experiences in our homeschool with fewer textbooks and workbooks, I needed a way to both personalize and document our work. This book showed me how. It supplied me with both tools and spiritual encouragement. I may never feel 100% confident at the task of teaching high school. Never-the-less, more importantly, I will venture forward more knowledgeable and equipped than I was before.

SET & Quiddler
A review by Yolanda Andreola

SET Set - Purchase here
When I was age twelve I had a peculiar but wonderful friend named Faith. Out of her mind there seemed to come a never-ending supply of new ideas, vocabulary words, and challenging thoughts. Faith introduced me to the game SET and we'd play it frequently. SET is a game that uses both left and right brain thinking skills. The right brain is usually underdeveloped in schools. From a deck of 81 specially patterned cards, 12 are placed face up. The object is to identify "sets" of three cards in which either all the cards are the same, or each one is different. This concept is soon understand when you see what a set is with your own eyes. You will become better and better at finding "sets" each time you play. This game can be for almost any age, in fact children sometimes do better than adults!

Quiddler Quiddler - Purchase here
Recently some good friends of ours invited us to dinner and afterwards they took out a game called "Quiddler" made by the same people who make SET. It is a short word game. There is a letter on each card. Each player is dealt a hand and has tries to form a word by picking and discarding when his turn comes around. But he has to try and form a word quickly because once one player makes a word and puts his cards down, everyone has to do the same! The points are then added up according to who had the most or best words.
Both games are fun portable brain boosters that will help increase your creative potential at home or while traveling.
--Yolanda


Stories of the Great Composers, Book 1 & CD
by June Montgomery, Maurice Hinson
A review by Sophia Andreola


Stories of Great Composers
Stories of the Great Composers, Book 1 & CD
June Montgomery, Maurice Hinson / Alfred Publishing Co. / 2000
When I was young my mother introduced me to the great composers. Recordings of their beautiful music were played over and over again. The music of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, Mozart… inspired me to play the violin. Now I am a violin teacher. At the start of giving group lessons I wanted my students to be familiar with the great composers and to aspire to play their music. Stories of the Great Composers was just the thing. But I wondered at the start. Would twelve energetic children, after some fun activities, then sit quietly while I read to them background information on a composer’s life? They did! After reading, I played a piece from the CD that comes with the book. The CD has one piece per composer. Music by the great composers, however, can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone - whether one ever plays an instrument or not. 55 pages & CD. Includes activity pages. For early elementary age. - Sophia

Meet the Great Composers - has more text and is for children a little older. 72 pages & CD Includes activity pages.


Teach Me Tapes
Review by Karen Andreola

Teach Me French
Teach Me Tapes
French Cassette

Teach Me Tapes / 1990
I was taught a pretty little French song as a youngster—Frere Jacque—and I still remember all the French words to it. Perhaps this is why I was happy to discover Teach Me Tapes when my children were youngsters. I ordered the French package. Simply playing the music with lyrics sung by native children was enough to rouse their curiosity to want to understand the meanings some of the 20 songs. The lyrics are in the coloring book with English translation. Later I bought the Italian package because my not-so-distant relatives still speak Italian in a certain New Jersey neighborhood. Although not a systematic foreign language course, these tapes provide a happy-to-make-your-acquaintance sort of experience, a gentle musical introduction to what a foreign language sounds like.

The Big Book of Questions & Answers About Jesus: A Family Guide to Jesus' Life and Ministry
by Sinclair Ferguson
A review by Dean Andreola

The Big Book of Questions & Answers About Jesus
The Big Book of Questions & Answers About Jesus: A Family Guide to Jesus' Life and Ministry
Sinclair Ferguson / Christian Focus Public / 2000
In my role as a father and homeschool dad I have looked for years for a useful guide that would assist me in teaching orthodox Christian truths to my young children. Bible Story books were fine, but I still felt something deeper was needed, something that would teach simple doctrines, and challenge them to put their tender faith into action. Then I discovered The Big Book of Questions & Answers by Sinclair B. Ferguson. Although he is a noted Bible scholar, Mr. Ferguson teaches God’s truths in such a gentle way that even five to ten year olds can understand and relate to them. Illustrated for kids, this book can also be used as a guide for daily or weekly devotions. He answers your children’s questions on a variety of Bible related subjects. God, His Laws, the Bible, and the Church are covered along with activities that help reinforce the lessons. This is a great book for the homeschool Dad (or Mom) who is looking to spend some quality time in the Lord with the kids.

The Children's Bible in 365 Stories
by Mary Batchelor
A review by Sophia Andreola

The Children's Bible in 365 Stories
The Children's Bible in 365 Stories
Mary Batchelor / Cook Communications / 1998
I am writing this review while studying away from home at L'Abri Fellowship in Mass. A group of students played the old question and answer game the other night. "What is your favorite childhood memory?" one girl asked. "Having the Bible read to me by my Mom and Dad," was one response. It stirred in me a memory of my own parents reading to my sister and me from The Children's Bible in 365 Stories. They carried this beautiful book all the way to England and home again, in their suitcase when they were missionaries. I can remember the colorful and dramatic illustrations of some of my favorite Bible stories to this very day! I now see how important little things like reading to a child at bedtime can be. They nurture happy memories and a love for books and learning. Reading stories from the Bible can inspire children to one day read it on their own. And the effects of God's word in their heart can be far reaching and will not return void. Recommended from our family to yours!
--Sophia

The Pistol: Inspirational Edition DVD
Inspiring sports action!
A review by Yolanda Andreola

The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend
The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend, Video
Cela / 2000
I am not particularly good at sports. That's an understatement! So I am all the more amazed when I see athletes who work as hard as they can to achieve their goals. A movie called The Pistol recently caught my eye. It's the true story of "Pistol" Pete Maravich, a high school boy who everyone said was too short to play basketball. But his dream was to become a great player. His father made a huge difference in his life by coaching him one on one, always believing in him. Through years of practice drills he acquired the discipline and control he needed to succeed. He went beyond dreaming and became the youngest inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame!
The incredible action scenes are not simulated. 'Pistol Pete' is played a by young professional basketball player (Adam Guier). So when you see his graceful drills, passes, and breathtaking shots, it's real! You don't need to be a sports fan for this film to inspire you to put all you can into any of the talents and abilities you have—and never give up.
(A note from Yolanda's Dad: The portrayal of Pete's father was one of the most inspiring I have ever seen in a film. Watching it was a humbling lesson on the true meaning of parenting and leadership. Dads…please don't miss this one!) --Yolanda

The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills
by Nathanial Bluedorn, Hans Bluedorn
A review by Dean Andreola


The Thinking Toolbox
The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills
Nathanial Bluedorn, Hans Bluedorn / Christian Logic / Paperback
Nathaniel and Hans have written yet another entertaining and effective book on improving logic and reasoning skills. Thirty-five short lessons with accompanying exercises can be completed in about 30 minutes apiece. Using beguiling illustrations such as The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, "The Moon Landing Hoax", or a little crime drama where evidence is analyzed to catch a thief, I found it difficult to keep from reading ahead to the next lesson! Some topics cleverly woven into this often-amusing text include: When is it dumb to argue? How to use the scientific method, and what is pseudoscience? Who has a reason to lie? Analyzing evidence, sources and opposing viewpoints, and how to list reasons why you believe something. The Thinking Toolbox will help our young people to be less vulnerable to lies, media bias, error, and false conclusions. On the practical side, students who master these skills would gain a whole lot more "common sense" then others, exercising better stewardship in making decisions, earning money, saving time and investing resources wisely. This is an excellent follow-up to The Fallacy Detective, for ages 13 to adult. Includes a detailed answer key.  - Dean

The Total Money Makeover, Revised and Updated
by Dave Ramsey
A review by Dean Andreola

Dave Ramsey The Total Money Makeover
The Total Money Makeover, Revised and Updated
Dave Ramsey / Thomas Nelson / 2007
It's never too early to learn stewardship with money, that's why I bought Total Money Makeover for my daughter Sophia.
Occasionally a parent will confide in us that they are so overburdened financially that they can hardly afford to run their household let alone buy the quality materials necessary to educate their children. Somewhere along the line they fell into a vicious cycle of credit, debt, and spending that has robbed them of their joy. Total Money Makeover is for these parents and to all others who wish to get out of debt, and avoid common financial pitfalls.
Dave Ramsey teaches you how to live within your means, get out of debt, save up a nest egg, and live without credit cards while saving for college, and your retirement! His method is a proven one, as witnessed by the testimonials in the book of real families who have disciplined themselves and saved much more than money. They now have a sure plan for the future, a better marriage, and a happier life. Dave's advice is practical, attainable, and Biblical… and it works! Reading his book is like getting the "best of" his daily radio program in one easy to follow guide. --Dean

Then Sings My Soul, Volume 1
by Robert J. Morgan

Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Volume 1, Hardcover with CD
by Bobbie Wolgemuth, Joni Eareckson Tada

Reviews by Karen Andreola


Then Sings My Soul
Then Sings My Soul
308 pages / Thomas Nelson / Softcover / 2003
Hymns for a Kid’s Heart
96 pages / Crossway Books & Bibles / Hardcover and CD / 2003
I was a teenager in the 1970’s when I committed my life to Christ. Contemporary Christian music (created by the ‘Jesus Movement’) very much ministered to me at that time. But it wasn’t long before I revisited the old hymns I had learned to sing as a young girl. I love hymns. When a copy of Then Sings My Soul came into my hands the first thing I did was look up those dearest to me and read their stories. I sing contemporary praise songs but the old songs, more rich in theology, are those that help steady me when my walk begins to feel wobbly. Because lyrics of great Bible truths are dear to me I’ve made hymns part of my children’s lives, too.

One hundred fifty hymns are arranged by order of when they were written. One of the earliest is Be Thou My Vision - 8th century. One of the latest is His Name is Wonderful – 1959 (two of my favorites). Anywhere a family of Christians meets to sing praise could make use of these stories to add deeper appreciation to hymns new or old. Simply laid-out, the music and lyrics take up one left-hand page, the stories or (background highlights of the hymn) one right-hand page. My watch told me it takes 3 minutes to read a hymn story silently. Reading one aloud would take just a bit longer.

For adults and children age 12 on up (includes some children’s hymns)

A song in the morning (Monday morning) is a good way to start a week of home school.

For young children I recommend Hymns for a Kid’s Heart by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada. Each read-aloud story has a respectfully rendered full-page color drawing (no silly cartoons here) and a short life application lesson. Music and lyrics are included in this attractive hardcover but best of all is a CD of children singing the hymns accompanied by beautiful orchestration.


Window on the World
by Daphne Spragget with Jill Johnstone
&
Operation World
by Patrick Johnstone
A review by Yolanda Andreola

Operation World
Window on the World
Daphne Spragget / Jill Johnstone

Operation World
Patrick Johnstone & Jason Mandryk
I dreamt I was a missionary in China working under cover as a teacher. It was a sad dream. So many of the people were lost or were being persecuted for following Christ. When I awoke I was reminded to pray for the people around the world who need the saving knowledge and love of God, and for the saints who bring the good news, that their faith would grow. Later that week my dad gave me Window on the World. It is full of compelling facts on the physical and spiritual needs of people of around the world. Using large color photos, every page spread features a different country with an outline of its native religion and culture. It even includes tools on how to pray for each people group. Window on the World is great help in praying for the missionaries on those little cards on your refrigerator door! –(children to adult) hardcover – 220 pgs.

Operation World is a thicker and more detailed book that covers many more countries, provinces and islands – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Pick a place on the globe and you will become aware of the spiritual needs and challenges of bringing the gospel to that country. My dad tells me this book was highly recommended by our mission board when our family served overseas when I was two years old! It's been brought up-to-date! Use these books together for a more effective and powerful prayer time. Children will also catch a bit of social studies, world history, current events and geography as an added bonus!
Teen to adult – soft cover – 798 pgs.
--Yolanda
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Homeschool Highlights provides homeschooling resources for home schooling parents and students. This site is hosted by Dean and Karen Andreola, noted authors who brought to light the works of Charlotte Mason. They also review "living books" and homeschool curriculum materials for Rainbow Resource Center.

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