Sunday, May 29, 2016

Two More Days to Make a Mini-Mary Garden

Yesterday, my daughter woke to a red, ripe strawberry.  She was so excited.

She has been going outside every morning to check our mini-Mary gardens, hoping to find a berry before the many squirrels and other critters that visit our yard do. 

I shared my daughter's joy as she discovered the first ripe berry of the season in her brand-new mini-Mary garden.  She was so delighted to harvest it, show it off to her brother and Daddy, and offer to share a bit of it, despite how tiny it was.  I was equally delighted that the kindness of a friend who has hosted a mini-Mary garden event for friends two years in a row brought both figurative and literal fruit to our lives.

The figurative fruit included time spent together in prayer, planting, and play with friends, as well as the practical life skill of learning to garden for my children.  The literal fruit, of course, is the strawberry!

Simple preparations have made way for savored blessings!

Making This Year's Mini-Mary Gardens

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This year, we made our gardens exactly the same way we did last year, using:

  • parsley, basil, strawberries and nasturtium, because that is what a local nursery had in stock.  (You could also use traditional Mary Garden plants.)

  • 10-14 inch round pots that are 6+ inches deep or strawberry planters.  (My children used new heavy, breakable pots purchased at a local discount shop since our pots from last year already are growing with perennial strawberry plants  Some of our friends wisely replanted last year's berry plants so they could re-use the lightweight, unbreakable 14-inch TerraBowl Planters that they purchased last year and others used pots they had empty at home.)

  • small statues of Mary.  (We re-used our Immaculate Heart of Mary Statue Favors which were ordered inexpensively as a twelve count last year to be split among friends.  Some of our friends used other statues this year.)

  • potting soil


  • small pots and paper cups (We forgot our trowels, so we simply used little generic green pots to transfer soil.  We also gave a small pot to one of the littles in our group to make a micro mini-Mary garden!)

  • glass gems (which were washed up and re-used from last year.)

  • shells (which, again, were re-used from last year.)

  • other decorative items from nature and our craft bins.

Before making the gardens, we gathered for a faith-chat and to pray a decade plus of the rosary.

After making them, we enjoyed sunshine, play, and chatting.  And, of course, since making the gardens, we've begun enjoying small harvests from them.

I dare say that making mini-Mary gardens will continue to be a beloved annual event for my children.  Perhaps you'd like to take some time to begin a similar tradition before Mary's month of May ends on Tuesday.  I'd love to see snapshots if you do!

If you'd like more details on how to make the gardens, please go to Make a Mini-Mary Garden to find them.

Peg Saint Aficionados Will Love This Book!

This year, my children and I were introduced to the worthwhile experience of painting peg doll saints for swaps.  We also have a long tradition of celebrating saint days together, often times through reading more about the lives of specific saints.  So, when I heard that an Encyclopedia of Peg Saints book, endorsed by Bishop Wall of New Mexico, had been published, I got ultra-excited and immediately looked up more information about it.

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I found a hardcover version of the book ETSY and a softcover one one Amazon, and, then, decided to contact one of its authors, Maggie Jetty, to see if I might receive a review copy of the book.  I was psyched that she agreed and even more delighted to discover that she and her husband Micheal, the book's other author, signed the review copy they sent me.  How sweet!

My Initial Plan for Our Encyclopedia of Peg Saints

As soon as I began flipping through our review copy of the
Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, I knew it was a book that I did not want my children to see right away.  We had recently led a saint peg swap for children, which all my children, and especially my daughter, had been excited about.  Since she wanted to host another children's swap, upon holding the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints in my hands, I immediately decided it would be perfect inspiration for her next swap and that, grouped with some new wooden pegs, a few new brushes, and some paints, the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints would make a perfect gift for my daughter's June birthday.

The birthday gift idea hatched, I tucked our copy of t
he Encyclopedia of Peg Saints away, planning to read it on the sly myself in order to write a review of it before wrapping it up with other bits and pieces to surprise my daughter on her birthday.

Our Plan - Take Two

My plan got foiled!

When a friend of mine and I were chatting about a Lady of Fatima event she was planning for our homeschool group, she asked me if I had any brief stories about Our Lady of Fatima that she could borrow for the event.  I recalled that the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints has a Lady of Fatima page and told her that I did not have a story, but I did have a beautiful page of 
 a book that she could share.  So, I took the book out to show her.

Unfortunately, I did not get our copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints tucked back away before my children saw it.  Of course, they wanted to dig into the book right away, but I told them it was for something special and they could not yet dive into it.  I hoped they would forget they saw it.
Fat chance!

I took our copy of 
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints along to our Our Lady of Fatima celebration for my friend to use, and, although we did not end up having time to share a page of the book with everyone at the celebration, my  son spied the book in my bag and began looking through it a bit.  Later that week, during a quiet moment, he asked, "Mom where did you put the encyclopedia?" 

"Encyclopedia?" I echoed, wondering what he was talking about.  In a recent box of pass-along books, we had been given a children's dictionary, a children's thesaurus, and some how-and-why books that I had decided to keep instead of passing forward, so I thought my son might be looking for one of those.  "Do you mean a different kind of reference book, Son?  They are on the white shelves."

"Thanks," he replied and went to get his sought-after book from the shelves.

A few moment later, he called out, "Mom, I can't find it.  I want the yellow one.  The one my friends and I can use."

Huh?  I thought utterly perplexed.  I could not think of a yellow reference book we owned, much less one my son might want to peer over with his friends.  "Oh, do you mean one of your Minecraft ones from the library?"

"No, you had an encyclopedia with saints in it that you said we could look at later.  Can I look at it now?"

The light dawned on me, I took the book out, and went to my son to say I wanted to use it to surprise his sister, even if she'd already seen it once, so he could read it, but I'd like him to do it in his bedroom.

My son did so, and got quite excited about surprising his sister.  In fact, when preparing to write this review, I asked my oldest what he thought about the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and he said:

I got some peg dolls for Christmas.  I already used some of them in a swap and want to use more.  This book will help me...My sister does the swaps, too, and she has not seen the book much yet, so I want to make her a peg from the book for her birthday and have mom buy some more pegs, so we can give her the book and pegs for her birthday.

Then, he began looking through the book, so he could choose which saint he might like to paint.  My daughter walked in, and he said,  "Mom, hide it."

My daughter asked "hide what" as she spied the corner of the book peeking out from under a blanket.  "If you mean that book," she continued, "I've already seen it and looked through it a little.  I like it!"

I smiled and said, "I know you've seen some of it before, Sweetie, but not all of it.  Mommy thought with your birthday coming up, I might give it to you to own, but, since you've already seen it, it won't be a surprise.  So, I suppose you would not like it."

My daughter bubbled, "No, I would like it.  I want to paint more saints.  I want to have another swap!"

Then, when she left the room, my son smiled slyly and said, "And she doesn't know I am going to paint her one of the saints!"

So, now, not only have I affirmed that
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is quite appealing to children, but plan two for my daughter's birthday is underway:  she will, indeed, get our copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints to keep, and she will also get some pegs - one of which will already be painted by her brother as a surprise gift for her.  Perfect!

Why Is This Book So Appealing

As I said before, I asked my son what he thinks about 
 the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints.  Besides talking about how it will help him lead another saint peg swap for children and it has given him an idea for his sister's birthday, he said:

It's a really nice book.  I like how it has a saint symbol on each doll and describes them, like on St. Patrick they have a three-leaf clover and on St. Padre Pio there is stigma.  I also like that there are small facts around each photograph.  That's the kind of book I like for when I am learning stuff.  I like it better sometimes than just a story.  It makes it easy to get the facts down in my head.  I also like how in the back they have themselves, their sons, the priest and a bishop. 

I like the book's design a lot, but I wish it had even more saints.  I think they should make another volume of totally different saints, and even more of them. 

I concur that 
Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is well-designed and filled with facts and illustrations that capture children's attention.  Each page features one of 36 different saints, with a photograph of a hand-painted saint peg doll in the middle of the page atop a light background that contains a photograph or fine-art painting of the saint.  Atop the background and around the peg saint photograph are many colored boxes filled facts, quotes, and information about the saint. The outside border of each page includes the saint's name and feast day.

This format makes
 the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints accessible for:

  • pre-readers, who can enjoy the images on each page as an older sibling, parent, or other reader reads information about the saint to the child
  • developing readers, who will likely be captured by the images in the book and, then, may be inspired to concentrate on a single box of information about the saint to puzzle out what it says
  • fluent readers, who, like my son, may pour over each page, devouring facts about the saints
  • aspiring peg saint painters, who will appreciate that the photographed models of peg saint dolls are beautiful, but not so complicated that they cannot be copied with a bit of practice
  • practiced peg saint painters, who will find plenty of information to inspire new peg saint doll designs

Truly, I think the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is a book that can be appreciated by both young and old as a way to learn more about the saints while also being inspired to create art.  It also lends itself to other curricula connections for home educators and other teachers.

For example, the quotes included in the book are perfect for copywork exercises; information on dates and locations of saint births and deaths can connect to history and geography; and all the facts could act as seeds for growing self-written stories or reports.

In just over 36 pages, Maggie and Michael have put together a lovely, inspiring collection that includes the following saints:

  • Agnes
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • John Bosco
  • Blaise
  • Katherine Drexel
  • Dominic Savio
  • Patrick
  • Francis of Paola
  • Gemma Galgani
  • Mark
  • Our Lady of Fatima
  • Dymphna
  • Joan of Arc
  • Anthony
  • Maria Goretti
  • Benedict
  • Veronica
  • Kateri
  • Mary Magdalene
  • James
  • Christopher
  • Ignatius
  • John Vianney
  • Monica
  • Mother Teresa
  • Padre Pio
  • Gabriel the Archangel
  • Michael the Archangel
  • Therese of Lisieux
  • Francis of Assisi
  • Teresa of Avila
  • John Paul II
  • Juan DIego
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Lucy

For Future Volumes of the Book

Obviously, we love our copy of
 the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, and we hope Maggie and Michael will make more volumes of it.  If they do, I'd like to officially request three things:

(1)  Practical Painting Tips and Information:  Surely those who peruse the
 Encyclopedia of Peg Saints will want to begin painting and having such information on hand would be quite helpful.  Thus, a few pages of how-to information, some tips on painting your own peg saint dolls, or links to where folks could find such information would be a lovely bonus in the book.

(2) Background Image Information:  While it is easy to find photographs and fine art paintings of saints online, I would love to have a list of the specific images used as backgrounds on each saint page of the encyclopedia.  The background choices in the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and having a list of the names of each work would allow me to easily pull up a sharp, full-color image of the  images in order to do a Charlotte Mason-inspired picture study with my children.  Such art study, I think, would enhance and inspire the learning and painting the book already inspires.

(3)  More Saints - and One for Each Month:  My oldest son would love to see "tons more saints" in another book.  So would I.  I would also love to see at least one saint for each month of the year.  In paging through 
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, I noticed there is at least one saint for each month of the year except November.  I plan to use our Encyclopedia of Peg Saints as a resource for our liturgical year celebrations and would love to use it and a (hopeful!) volume 2 as a guide/inspiration for a monthly peg saint painting initiative.  Having at least one model saint per month would be helpful for this, but, of course, with 36 saints already featured, having no November saint page is A-okay.  There are plenty of beautiful pages to focus on!

Indeed, I am impressed with how much information and inspiration is packed into less than 40-pages in
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints.  So, the three requests above are only offered as ideas for making a fabulous resource even better if a second volume is created (and I truly hope one is!)  In the meantime, we'll be thoroughly enjoying our "volume one" copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and recommending it highly to others!  Those who like to paint peg doll saints, celebrate the liturgical year, learn about saints, or gift unique Catholic items will all love this book, I think.  I know we do!

We truly love the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and look forward to using it throughout the coming year.  For saint-study lovers like us, it is perfect!  Would it make a great addition to your saint resource collection, too?  Feel free to ask me any specific questions you might still have as you decide.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Practicing Muliplication with a New Game

Do you have children who enjoy games and could use some extra math practice as well?  I do, and that's why I elected to review a new game called Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing, which is put out by a new company called Sunya Publishing

Because the company is new, the game of Sunya is in development, and the company website is not that developed yet, I was not exactly sure what to expect when I opened our "sneak peek" review package. What we received was:

  • a 25-page Homeschool Teacher/Parent Guidebook, which includes color and gray-scale pages (the former of which I found easier on my eyes and encourage the publisher to use in its final version of the game)
  • 60 playing cards (numbers, a multiplication symbol, a division symbol, an equals sign, and some wild cards)
  • 30 fact/riddle cards
  • a multiplication/division number line

So, of course, the first thing I did was open up the comb-bound, softcover teacher guide to learn how to play the game.


The guide was not the most user-friendly game instruction guide I've ever seen.  In fact, it made the game seem downright confusing and, immediately, I wished there were either simpler instructions or a web address for finding video clips of how to play the game.  For, honestly, 11 pages of instructions seemed daunting to me and, I kept thinking, at the very least, instead of all the text, the lengthy instructions could have included more diagrams that showed actual cards on them, such as were depicted on page seven of the guidebook (which I bet may just happen in final versions of this soon-to-be-on-the-market game!)

However, soon enough, I realized that I did not need all 11 pages to get a game up and running.  In fact, the basic instructions were not that complicated once I looked them over a few times and I was able to begin play with my children fairly easily.

Playing Sunya

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
To play, I laid out a number sentence, dealt out four cards per player, and challenged my son to lay down some of his cards atop the ones in the number sentence to make a new, correct number sentence.  Then, I did the same.  If we could not make a number sentence, we drew more cards from a pile, and, when one of us was out of cards, we called, "Sunya" (pronounced soon-ya) and won the game.  

At that point, the winner drew a card from the Riddle and Fact deck to read aloud.

Not too hard at all.  In fact, the Basic Game was satisfyingly simple to catch onto once my children and I gave it a go, and quite fun with just enough challenge for at least one of my children.

The Children's Takes on the Game

Math may be universal, but opinions never are, right?  That is a fact that my children prove.  The two children of mine who played Sunya with me each had a different take on it.

My oldest, ten, liked Sunya"okay", but only played the game when I required him to as a part of lessons, since the game just did not capture him.  When I asked him for his honest opinion about Sunya, he said:

I think it's a little bit boring.  I do not really like math games and stuff as much as other things, so I just don't like Sunya much... It was okay, but not the best...  It is a better way of practicing multiplication than some other ways, but not my favorite.  I liked the Riddle and Fact cards better than the game.

My daughter, who is actually weaker with her multiplication facts than her big brother had a different - and more positive- opinion of Sunya.  Whenever she saw her brother and I playing Sunya, she watched and asked if she could play.  Then, she delighted in the game.

When I asked my daughter for her candid opinion about the game, she said:

I like saying "Soon-YAAAAA!"  It is fun and it is a good game.  It is easy, but not too easy.  It's a certain amount of hard, which makes it FUN!  I want to play it more.

So, that's exactly what we did.  After my daughter gave her opinion about Sunya, we played it again. 

We will continue to do so regularly as long as the game interests her, because, to me, any game that gets my daughter smiling over math and encourages us to spend 1:1 time together is a worthwhile way to spend our time! 

Perhaps, my daughter and I will even get to the point where we can get beyond the Basic Game and utilize some of the other variations of play that are included in the guidebook, which include a division game, a team game, and a solitaire game. 

Extra Information

Besides lengthy game instructions for different versions of Sunya play, the teacher's guide includes:

  • a description of the meaning of the game's name (Sunya), which also described the origin of our modern number system, discussed math as a universal language, touched on cultural diversity, and got into how math knows no races, or geographic boundaries. 
  • a glossary of terms used for division and multiplication problems, which was simple and might prove helpful for those who cannot recall, say, what a mutliplicand and a multiplier are.
  • an explanation of the parts of a number sentence, which could be helpful to some.
  • a page of math quotes from Euripides to Einstein, which could be used for copywork or just for trivia or conversation.
  • 5 pages of Math and Science Facts and Riddles which are redundant to the cards that came with the game.
  • a page with some extra math facts and riddles

Since I know the final version of the game and its manual are not being sold quite yet, I will say that I do not think all of these extras add that much value to the game package and could easily be included on the company's website with a simple link to them included in briefer, less complicated guidebook that could make the game appear more "open and play" for customers.  In fact, perhaps money saved in production by transferring the extras above to a website page could go towards including images of cards on full-color instruction pages which would make actual game play easier to understand.

Likewise, in a later version of the game, I think it would be helpful to have different backs for the cards that are Playing Cards and those that are Fact and Riddle Cards.  (Sometimes, we found ourselves accidentally drawing from the wrong pile or shuffling them together.)  Likewise, I would like to see more  riddles, math challenges, or story problems among the Fact and Riddle Cards, which, in my opinion, are not necessary for the game, but do add another layer of fun and learning, which my son appreciated.

Final Thoughts


I give credit to Paul Latell, inventor of Sunya, for his efforts in creating this game and getting it so close to being ready for market!  While I obviously think Sunya's presentation could benefit from a few tweaks, overall, I find the actual game interesting and worthwhile.  

Sure, Sunya may not be a huge hit with my son, but I appreciate how, when I request that my son play it with me, I witness him practicing his math facts and stretching his thinking.  Better still, my daughter, thoroughly enjoys the Basic Version of Sunya and asks me to play with with her.  That makes the game a win, tweaks to it requested or not.
If you have children that need practice with multiplication and division and enjoy playing math-based card games, Sunya could could be for you.  Watch for the version of it that will be on the market soon.

Also, watch for its companion game, an addition and subtraction version, which will be available soon as well. 

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

I imagine it is not easy to get a game from concept to pilot testing to market these days, and it is clear that game inventor Paul Patell has done due diligence so far with this process, playing and testing the game with an elementary school classroom (which is mentioned in the Teacher/Parent Guidebook) and generously offering a pilot version of either Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting or Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing to 100 Schoolhouse Review Crew familesIn doing so, I believe Me. Latell has proven that Sunya is educational for many (my son included) and enjoyable, too (for my daughter and I, for example).  I encourage you to keep an eye our for versions of Sunya coming to market soon as well as to see what other families who have played pilot versions think about the game.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review} 
Are you looking for 1:1 or small group games to enjoy math fact fun?  Sunya may be one to consider.

Crew Disclaimer

Make Science Easy to Slip in and Connect with the Rest of Life with Science Shepherd

Although my children enjoy science, sometimes our life gets so full that we busy "science time" out and end up simply learning science organically through our many outings, activities, read together times, and chats.  While this approach suits us well during this leg of our home education journey, the "box checker" in me sometimes takes comfort in knowing we are covering all the typical elementary topics, such as those presented in
Introductory Science by Science Shepherd, a product that we were offered an opportunity to review.  So, I was quick to accept the review.

I am glad I did.  For, since receiving
Introductory Science, which includes 12-months of access to streaming videos, a softcover 321-page workbook, and an answer key, we have found that our life has not slowed down, while our forays into science have become less random.  No longer are we in a phase where we are simply learning as we live with science.  Rather, we have been slipping quick, organized, and engaging lessons on earth science into our lives and look forward to doing the same with life science, and physical science.

Quick, Easy, and Engaging

Science Shepherd Review

As I mentioned, much of my family's science time springs from life - informal nature study when out on walks, simple experiments at home and at classes we attend, chats and experiments, shows and workshops at library programs, engineering challenges during club activities, and more.  While this approach suits us well during this leg of our homeschool journey, finding a central, cohesive way to review, tie together, and build upon science skills and knowledge gleaned from many experiences has been a blessing. 
Introductory Science is just that!  Aimed at children 6-11, the program includes 35 weeks of lessons presented as 2-5 minute daily videos and follow-up questions and activities in a student workbook.  Topics include:

  • two weeks of introductory material on God's word, creation, and dominion as the underpinnings of science
  • one week of basic information on science skills and tools, which touches upon observing, comparing sequencing, classifying, planning, measuring, labeling, predicting, experimenting, using/making models, concluding, reporting, instruments, and the scientific method
  • seven weeks of Earth Science, which includes studies in meteorology, geology, and oceanoggraphy
  • nineteen weeks of Life Science, which includes studies on plants, astronomy, underwater creatures, flying creature, land creatures, human beings, being healthy, and ecology and natural resources
  • six weeks of Physical Science, which includes studies on matter, energy, motion, and magnets

Lessons are organized with the Biblical story of Creation as a guiding framework and key Bible verses connected to each scientific topicThe program is designed by Scott Hardin. MD, a physician, who also is a homeschool dad of six, so they mix the need for hard science presented in an accessible way with the expertise of a "science guy" who puts science knowledge into practice with his daily work and knows what homeschool life is like.  Indeed, it appears Dr. Hardin is well aware that some homeschoolers like me are often anywhere but home and, therefore, benefit from ultra-brief lessons and an open-and-go way to review them, with a smattering of simple experiments and activities thrown in for hands-on learning.  For that is exactly what we have found Introductory Science offers.

Slipping in Science with Fast Focus and Logical Learning

Introductory Science
is designed so that families with children ages 6-11 can view a single 2-5 minute video clip together daily and, then, follow up on it with quick workbook questions, puzzles, and/or easy hands-on activities.  Review questions, puzzles, and activity instructions are all included in Workbook A, for children ages 6-9 or Workbook B, for children ages 9-11, and can typically be completed quickly.  I'd say the review questions and puzzles take no more than 2-10 minutes to complete and the hands-on activities, though, of course, longer in duration, do not demand huge investment in time nor materials.

When we first sat down with
Introductory Science, I thought we would begin at the beginning and attempt to follow the program in the manner it is designed - with a single video clip followed by corresponding workbook pages in Workbook A, which I elected to receive since I have children ages 5-10 who do not relish writing nor workbook assignments.  However, I quickly realized it was a good thing that we did not only have 10 minutes for science that day, not because we needed more time for a single lesson, but because my children wanted to do more than one lesson at that sitting. 

I followed my children's request for "more" and we found ourselves doing more than a week's worth of lessons in one sitting.
After that, we continued as such, slipping science in once or twice a week with multiple-lesson sittings depending on how much time we had on a given day to sit together and how many times the children said, "one more, please, one more."

For our
Science Shepherd lessons, then, basically, my children and I all sit together on the couch, watch a video clip together, pause to chat about it and to complete corresponding workbook pages orally or in writing (pending moods), and then move on to a new video.  Because we typically do this when we were all needing some down time, and because the experiments and activities presented in the first five weeks of lessons that we have completed so far have been similar to ones we have already done in previous science studies, to date, we have opted to simply watch the videos for these instead of actually getting hands-on to do the labs ourselves.  Of course, if the children ask me to pause so we can complete any of the hands-on activities in future lessons, however, we will. For now, though, our approach to the self-paced lessons suits us perfectly - a cozy time of sitting on the couch together reviewing and learning science through a well-organized program that progresses in a logical and engaging fashion.

Our Thoughts

When I was preparing for this review, I asked each of my children what they think of
Introductory Science so far.  My five-year-old son was not in his most loquacious mood and responded simply with:

It's okay.

Considering he has been in a "mood" this week where anything school-like is met with whines and groans, the fact that he had anything positive to say, no matter how brief, speaks to the fact that
in Introductory Science is, indeed, worthwhile.  My youngest often liked the slides presented in the videos and, surprised me on occasion with his willingness to complete some of the workbook page questions and puzzles with pencil in hand.

My oldest said the following about the program:

I like it a lot, but I think the videos should be longer.  Because they are not, my mom lets us do more than one video at time.  The videos are good, but could also have some improvement.  I like the pictures they use in them, but I think they should add someone else besides the man in the regular ones (not in the experiments, because they already have other people.)  I like that the man just sits and talks clearly, but they should vary who sits and teaches us.

I have learned that meteorology is not the study or meteors.  It is the study of weather.  I have also learned what dominion means - full power over something.  Most everything else was just review for me.  I was doing a creation class in co-op and the first videos taught about creation.

The workbook was good because it was easy and did not have a lot of writing.

My oldest is a child who would stay connected to a screen all day if I let him and also thrives on novelty.  His comments attest to that, since he brought up that he wishes the videos were longer and that there were more people presenting materials on them.  He is also a child who likes to make connections, so we both though it was perfect that a co-op class that my son designed and I taught focused on creation and that the first weeks of lesson material in
in Introductory Science did, too, while the remaining weeks were framed by the order of the Christian creation story. We also were delighted that materials, thus far, have helped us review and connect learning from past field trips and library programs.  I just loved it when figurative light bulbs start turning on and bells begin ringing when something presented in Introductory Science hearkened back to something we've seen, heard, or done when out-and-about.  I also appreciated that Workbook A in this program had large font and plenty of white space, so my oldest was actually not opposed to completing some of its pages with his siblings and me. 

My daughter, said:

It was good.  The man is kind of quiet.  I like that, because my ears are sensitive to sound.  I also liked that they had experiments, but, because we have done them before, we did not do them again. 

I thought it was weird that they only had three people in the thing - the guy and the two girls.  I would like it if they rotated more people into the videos.  I would not make any other changes.

I can name three things I have reviewed:  the water cycle, that the world tilts, and the creation story.  I have learned meteorology means the study of weather not examining meteors.

I did not love the workbook, because, first of all, the stuff in it seemed kind of repetitive to the video.

I thought it was interesting that my daughter commented on the volume of the videos.  Despite turning our laptop up to its maximum volume, I found the program played on the "a bit too quiet" side myself, and, at first, worried that the way it was presented - with a man sitting behind a desk and slides popping up around him - would not engage my children.  However, despite being children who often like a bit of flash and fun, all of my children were, indeed, taken in enough by the presentation of in Introductory Science to often ask "more" and it seems my daughter, in particular, appreciated the lower volume and calm demeanor of "the man" in the videos.  I cannot complain about that!  Engaged and appreciative leads to attentive and happily participating, which is exactly what my children have been thus far with Science Shepherd. (They do, however, seem to wish there were more calm, quiet presenters in the videos though.)

I, personally, am happy with how Science Shepherd encouraged my children and me to shine greater specific focus on science each week, hearkening back to past experiences while taking a break from current ones as we cozy up on our couch together enjoying some down time that is learning time, too.  The fact that videos and workbook pages are short allows us to pace ourselves with as much time as we want with the lessons in one sitting, putting our computer and workbook away for the day at any one of the many logical breaking points in the lessons. 

The overt connection to Bible in the program, connects our science and faith learning, and the wide breadth of science learning topics connects our prior experiential learning and read alouds to the program as well.  That means that although sitting down with Introductory Science focuses on a specific area of learning (science), it does not exclude other areas of study.  In fact, Science Shepherd has become a simple way for our family to review prior science learning and cross-curricula experiences while also acting as a springboard for further learning. 

My husband, who is more of a science and reason guy, was not too keen on the mixing of the Bible and science when he first viewed the program, because while he is Christian, he is not comfortable with hardcore "young earth" theories and was afraid the program might be too heavy-hitting with its creation science bias. However, once he observed the children and I get beyond the initial lessons of the program, he agreed that
Introductory Science is worthwhile and that the children are learning and reviewing some "real science" with it. Self-paced, with a wide breadth of topics, an easy-to-use format, and a low-key, engaging approach, Introductory Science has come proven an ideal and happy surprise for us.  We had not planned to include it in our science studies this year, but, when the review came up, we thought we'd give it a try.  We are all happy we did and plan to continue using it, and I think, because it is so easy to do, we will.  (Sometimes we plan to continue with a program, but find life busies it out.  This program truly is so easy and cozy for us to use, I do not think that will happen this time.)

Learn More

Science Shepherd Review

If you have children in lower elementary grades and seek a quick daily screen-and-workbook approach to science, or a self-paced program that can be used for 2-5 minutes to many more in one sitting,
Introductory Science could be for you.  Written by a Christian homeschool dad who is also a doctor, the program, in my opinion, is a triple-hit:

  • It is Biblically-based.
  • It includes had science at an age appropriate level.
  • It is easy to fit into a full homeschool lifestyle.

If you'd like to see if Introductory Science suits you, you can find a sample video, sample workbook pages, and a scope and sequence on the Science Shepherd website.  

Science Shepherd Review

You can also learn more about programs for upper grades, Science Shepherd Biology and Science Shepherd Life Science

Science Shepherd Review

One hundred Schoolhouse Review Crew families reviewed either
Introductory Science, Science Shepherd Biology or Science Shepherd Life Science.  You can see what each has to say by clicking through this banner:

Science Shepherd Review

You can find Science Shepherd on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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