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Bible Journaling Kit from Ellie Claire – Review & Giveaway!

Good morning, readers. Long time no see! I have taken quite a long break from blogging, but I am so happy to be back so that I can share another awesome product with you. And this one is for the moms!

Bible journaling seems to be everywhere. A simple search on Pinterest will show you all sorts of gorgeous, perfectly hand lettered, expertly illustrated Bible pages. But what if you’re just starting out? You don’t know exactly what you need, where to start, or how in the world you’re ever going to get your Bible to look like those amazing examples. Friends, let me introduce you to the Bible Journal Kit by Ellie Claire.

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So what is so fabulous about this kit? Well, let me start by telling you what is included!

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  • journaling pen
  • 8 colored pencil twists
  • 4 sheets of word stickers
  • 4 sheets of alphabet stickers
  • 24 tab stickers
  • 1 pouch with adjustable strap to fit Bibles of all sizes
  • 1 ruled page protector mat with tracing lines

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And how will all this help you??

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Well, the first thing you need when you begin Bible journaling is a good journaling pen. The wrong type of pen will either bleed through or smudge, ruining all your hard work. The pen in this kit is designed specifically for your needs. Then, you will want to add some color, and these pencil twists are perfect for the task. This variety of pretty colors will really make your pages pop without the worry of bleed-through that you can get with markers and highlighters.

stickersBut then there is the question of what to write. If you’re not quite comfortable with diving right into writing on your pages, the word stickers are a great place to start. I began my Bible journaling by choosing some of my favorite scriptures, so I would personally recommend that as a starting point. Grab one of the word stickers and place them wherever you like on the page. They’re in black and white, so you can doodle around them, color them in as you like, or customize them however you choose. That will help you ease into writing your own notes, quotes, and lettering. The alphabet stickers can be used in much the same way, and are great for when you’re just not quite as confident with your own hand lettering. The sticker tabs are a cute, colorful way to mark your spot for future reference.

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When you do begin hand lettering, (and there are tons of online sites and tutorials, as well as how-to books on hand lettering techniques if you need ideas or help) you will find this template SO handy. It has ruled lines down one side, helping to keep that writing nice and neat and straight. On the other side is a die cut edge with several designs for adding a fancy edge or border to your decorated pages.

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And last but not least, you need a way to keep all these items close at hand with your Bible, so that you’re ready to journal wherever you are. This kit comes with a super cute, stretchy pouch with an adjustable strap that fits virtually any Bible. The only thing that does not fit in the pouch is the template, but I just tuck it in between my pouch and my Bible and I’m good to go. And there is plenty of extra room in the pouch for things like additional stickers, pens, washi tape, or even a small notebook for jotting down ideas. Plus, I think it’s simply adorable.🙂

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So now that you have seen all of the wonderful goodies in this kit, let me show you where to get your own! (And remember, the holidays are coming, and these would make an awesome Christmas gift!)

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BNBibleJournaling

Amazon: http://bit.ly/BibleJournaling

Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/BAMBibleJournaling

Christian Book Distributors: http://bit.ly/CBDBibleJournaling

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I am also very happy to offer one of my readers the opportunity to win a kit of your own! Just click the link below to enter to win!

ENTER MY RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE!

In addition to my own personal giveaway, the publishers are hosting their own giveaway where readers have a chance to win one of five journaling kits. Their giveaway page also contains some free coloring pages for you to enjoy!

ENTER THE PUBLISHER GIVEAWAY HERE!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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Classroom Friendly Supplies Sharpener – New Color Debut!

Happy Monday, readers! I hope your homeschools are off to a great start this week!

As some of you may remember, I did a review a while back for the absolute BEST pencil sharpener we have ever used in our homeschool. It is the Classroom Friendly Supplies Sharpener. I know, some of you are thinking that a sharpener is a sharpener, no big deal. But as I said in my previous review, nothing, and I mean NOTHING performs like this thing!

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As I wrote in my previous review, here are some of my absolute favorite features of this sharpener:

  • It does a perfect job time after time, regardless of the type (or quality) of pencil you use
  • Sturdy construction means durability. Definite plus in my house!
  • The plastic drawer underneath is easy to remove and clean. It just slides out and back in
  • The metal plate holds it perfectly in place. No more lopsided pencil tips
  • The crank is easy to turn, and gets even easier to let you know when the sharpening is complete
  • It’s quiet! It’s not silent, but it’s the quietest crank sharpener I have ever heard, by far
  • It comes with a non-permanent mount to clip it to a desk or table, for extra stability
  • Replacement blades are available directly from Classroom Friendly Supplies, so no need to throw out the whole sharpener just for a dull blade
  • The price is excellent. Can you get a cheaper sharpener? Sure. But you will spend more on a dozen cheapies that don’t work half as good as this one. For the quality and excellent results, this sharpener is a steal!

So why, you may be asking, am I posting about the exact same product twice? Well, friends, the same awesome product I, and many others, love is now available in a new color. The Classroom Friendly Supplies Sharpener is now available in…

POPULAR PURPLE!

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Classroom Friendly Supplies asked, and fans voted this as the color of choice. We’re sure you’re going to love it too!

This amazing sharpener is $24.99 at Classroom Friendly Supplies. They also have a fantastic deal where you can get 3 sharpeners for $53.97. And for you classroom teachers out there, there are even greater discounts for bulk orders. I should also note that, for those with younger children, Classroom Friendly Supplies also carries a large hole sharpener for those thicker pencils. For more information, you can check out the Classroom Friendly Supplies website, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or click HERE for the product video.

Click the graphic below to be taken directly to the NEW Popular Purple Sharpener page!

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Thanks so much to Troy and the Classroom Friendly Supplies team for giving me the opportunity to review this sharpener!

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Return to Blogging

After a very long, and much needed hiatus, I have finally decided to return to blogging. So where have I been? Honestly, I was just doing too much and my focus was taken too much off of my kids and our homeschool. My balance was lost. But, we are now refocused and I have scaled back on my outside commitments, so now hopefully I can return to blogging as a hobby without interfering with my job as mom and teacher.🙂 I hope some of you out there are still following. I have missed interacting with my awesome readers and fellow homeschool moms!

WriteShop Junior: Book E ~ Review

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WriteShop provides homeschool writing curriculum from students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. WriteShop Junior is written for students in approximately grades 3-5, and provides instruction in creative writing through step-by-step lesson plans and lots of hands-on student activities. Write Shop Junior is written in 2 levels, D for grades 3-4, and E for grades 4-5. Each level’s complete set includes a teacher’s guide, activity pack, time-saver pack, and junior writer’s notebook, and can be purchased in either printed ($106.95) or digital PDF ($78.50) form. We have recently been given the opportunity to use the digital form of WriteShop Junior: Book E, and are happy to share our review with you today.

About the Program

WriteShop Junior: Book E covers various forms of creative writing, which are divided into 10 lessons. Each lesson spans 2 to 3 weeks, depending upon what works best for your schedule. Topics covered include:

Lesson 1: Writing a Fable
Lesson 2: Writing with Humor
Lesson 3: Writing an Adventure
Lesson 4: Writing Science Fiction
Lesson 5: Writing a Mystery
Lesson 6: Concrete Poetry
Lesson 7: Writing a Personal Narrative
Lesson 8: Descriptive Narrative
Lesson 9: Writing a Book Report
Lesson 10: Writing a Nonfiction Report

Each of these 10 lessons is broken down into smaller parts, referred to as Activity Sets. Every lesson has 8 Activity Sets, which provide a way of organizing the activities so that material is presented to students in a consistent and familiar format from one lesson to the next.

Program Components

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The WriteShop Junior: Book E Teacher’s Guide provides everything you need to teach writing to your students. It begins with a brief overview of the program, and then gives examples of possible schedules so that you can see which one will work best for your situation. It even gives tips for teaching multiple students who are using different levels of WriteShop. A comprehensive list of materials and supplies is then given, which includes detailed explanations of the student components of the program. Following that is a breakdown of individual lesson activities, and the purpose and procedure for each one.

Following all of this background information is the main part of the teacher’s guide, which is the step-by-step explanation of the program’s 10 lessons. Not only does this program explain what you need to teach and why, but it literally does the teaching for you. Each lesson is completely scripted for you, which means you don’t have to be good at writing yourself in order to teach students to write well. Clear, thorough explanations are also given for the hands-on activities within each lesson, so there is absolutely no guess work when it comes to implementing this program.

 

graphic_ActivityPackThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Activity Pack includes the student worksheet and activity pages that correspond to each of the 10 lessons.

The Activity Pack includes worksheets for activities typically found in various writing programs, including brainstorming, the writing assignments themselves, and self-editing sheets. In addition to these, WriteShop expands upon the writing process by offering pre-writing worksheets, journal prompts, and hands-on, skill-building activities. The back of the Activity Pack includes additional forms for keeping a reading log, extra journal pages, and a writing skills evaluation chart so that students can keep track of their writing progress throughout the program.

Also included in the Activity Pack is the Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. This pack includes printable sheets with instructions explaining how to assemble them inside file folders in order to create a set of 10 grammar reference guides. These guides will then provide students with their own personal quick references for the following topics:

  • Sentences
  • Four Kinds of Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Parts of Speech: Review
  • Dialogue
  • Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs
  • Five Paragraphs
  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Compound Words
  • Synonyms and Antonyms

Construction of each of the guides is worked right into the lesson plan, with one guide completed per lesson.

graphic_Time-SaverEThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Time-Saver Pack contains all of the necessary printable components used in the hands-on games and activities featured throughout the program. The time-saver pack does just that. It saves time by giving you pre-designed game cards, spinners, and other game elements, which can be quickly printed on cardstock and used right away, rather than taking precious time away from the lesson to make everything by hand.

 

graphic_JrWritersNotebookThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Junior Writer’s Notebook is a convenient place for students to keep track of their planning activities from their writing processes. The 12 worksheets included provide students with a unique way of focusing on the specific elements of writing, such as setting, plot, and characters. The worksheets also offer student the means to improve their existing compositions by helping students with such things as word choices, creating interesting beginnings and endings in compositions, and conveying emotion to the reader. Students are able to print out these forms as they feel necessary.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

Because my youngest son is in the upper age range of this level, and my oldest is one grade above, we decided to use this program at the faster, 2-week-per-lesson recommended. I love the idea of this program, but for us, it was simply overwhelming as far as the number of elements involved with its implementation. That is not to say that there was too much work in the program. The program itself is well laid out, with what I would consider an age-appropriate amount of work and activities. The issue is only that the program simply did not fit with my children’s learning styles.

I think that this program is perfect for parents who do not enjoy writing themselves, or do not consider themselves particularly good at writing or teaching it to their students. In those cases, I am sure that parents would appreciate the detailed explanations, and would find the completely scripted lessons an absolute life-saver.

Furthermore, I am sure that completely tactile learners would find this the perfect curriculum. There is never a case of “take out a blank piece of paper and write”. Instead, everything is presented by way of fun, illustrated worksheets and activities that are mostly hands-on in nature. In other words, it is perfect for students who need a more stimulated, active way of learning the writing process.

Unfortunately, with a younger child who is easily overwhelmed by too much sensory input, and an older child who is a no-nonsense straight shooter, this program simply didn’t work for us. I can say, however, that the program is fantastic for what it is, and I can definitely see why I have heard so many people raving about it. I do wish it had been a better fit for our family, as there is nothing AT ALL flawed about the program. I am sure tactile learners, reluctant writers, and non-writer parents out there will absolutely adore this program.

For more information, please check out the WriteShop website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

 

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Moving Beyond The Page ~ Review

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Moving Beyond the Page provides literature-based homeschool curriculum, on a vast number of topics, in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. Their curriculum is broken down into a series of units, organized by age level, from ages 4-5 all the way up through ages 14-15. Their unit style works particularly well for gifted and hands-on learners. My family has recently had the opportunity to use a couple of the units from their 10-12 age group, the language arts unit, Albert Einstein, and the accompanying science unit, Force and Motion. Today, we are happy to share our experience and review.

About the Curriculum

The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is broken down into concepts covered over the course of the year. Each of these concepts is further broken down into a series of smaller units. These units each cover one particular theme relating to the main concept. The concepts and units can be studied in any order, however, allowing a very personalized learning experience for each child. The units can each be used independently, though some (like those my family has chosen) have also been written to work in conjunction with each other.

Each unit includes a Note For Parents page, which describes the structure of the curriculum, explains each component of the lessons, and provides a sample week’s schedule. It goes even further to explain the structure of each lesson, and finally, an example of a typical day, and time allotments for unit activities.

Each lesson is then clearly laid out in the curriculum guides, with checklists to ensure you have everything you need, ideas to think about, and things to know before you get started. The lesson then begins with the reading passage and accompanying questions, a series of corresponding activities, and finally a “wrapping up” section for reinforcement or further study.

Albert Einstein

einsteinThis language arts unit is available in either printed ($48.93) or online ($44.87) form, which includes the curriculum and all additional required materials. For the purpose of this review, we were given the online version. The unit is broken down into 8 lessons, plus a final project. It is made to accompany the biography, Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull.

The lessons not only help guide students through the book through the use of lesson review questions, but also provide opportunities for activities such as mapping of various countries in which Einstein lived and worked, constructing a timeline of his life, research of other notable scientists that influenced Einstein, and much more. In the final project, students will use all that they have learned in order to construct a biography scrapbook of Einstein’s life and work.

Also included with this unit is a Rummy Roots card game, which is written right into the activities section of the unit. This game teaches children ages 8 and up 42 different Greek and Latin roots, providing an excellent vocabulary builder. The curriculum also includes a vocabulary list, as well as weekly spelling lists to correlate with the unit, making this an all-inclusive language arts curriculum.

 

Force and Motion

Force_motion_graphicThis science unit is also available either in printed ($50.07) or online ($46.01) form, which includes the curriculum, accompanying book, and experiment kit. The unit’s 8 lessons and final project are made to accompany the book The Quest for Personal Best: Individual Sports by Lisa Greathouse. Through the study of various sports and the athletes that participate in them, students are introduced to several physics concepts. Some of the fascinating topics covered include gymnastics and balance, bicycles and friction, skateboarding and gravity, and more.

Like the literature unit, this curriculum provides a series of review questions related to the required reading book, but then goes further by providing a variety of hands-on activities for reinforcement. In this unit, that includes a number of worksheets (included within the unit) plus simple experiments, which use the items from the experiment kit. Because this unit covers force and motion, the experiments involve simple activities such as using a spring scale to measure mass, using marbles to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Acceleration, or a ball drop experiment to illustrate directional changes. The curriculum provides all necessary instructions for conducting these experiments, as well as forms for students to record their data and conclusions.

This unit also includes a list of vocabulary words covered in the study, as well as a unit review sheet to ensure understanding of the unit’s key concepts.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

We decided to follow the units as suggested in each of the curriculum guides, and I must say, the suggested schedule was very helpful in implementing the studies. I was admittedly overwhelmed at first receiving the curriculum, but after reading the introduction notes and suggestions, it was very easy to get up and running. I was also a bit nervous at first about the amount of hands-on work, as my youngest can sometimes get sensory overload by too many activities. However, this curriculum was extremely well balanced, providing plenty of reading and written work in addition to the fun experiments and activities. The hands-on activities are long enough to enforce the concept, but short enough to keep students focused and on task. Follow-up report forms are also helpful in ensuring students understand the purpose of the experiments, and how to interpret their findings.

As the parent, I loved the fact that everything was either included with the kit, or involved simple, household items. For activities that involved outside sources, such as online articles, everything was provided right in the curriculum, which saved a lot of time searching for resources. Having everything all in one place made teaching a breeze. It made it so easy, in fact, that older students could even use this curriculum independently, with minimal parent assistance.

This curriculum makes learning even difficult concepts easy and fun. I would definitely recommend this not only to typical hands-on learners, but to all homeschoolers. With the wide variety of subjects available, parents are sure to find something that appeals to every child. And, with the clear explanations and easy to follow instructions for each unit, it really takes the stress out of lesson planning. My boys definitely enjoyed this curriculum and are asking for more units from Moving Beyond the Page!

 

For more information, please check out the Moving Beyond The Page website, or follow them on Facebook. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

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Experience History Through Music – Review

Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring is a fantastic series of CD and accompanying books full of some of our nation’s best loved folk songs. This series is a fun way of studying American history, and is sure to appeal to even the most reluctant historians.

There are 3 sets in the series, each focusing on a different theme within our country’s history. Each set contains a CD of high-quality musical recordings. The accompanying book gives background information about the song itself, as well as the time period in which it was written. Historical photographs and artwork throughout the books enhance the stories and help engage readers. At the end of each book there is easy sheet music for each song, which makes it easy to sing and play the music for yourself.

diana waring available now

Each set is priced at only $18.99, but now through the end of July, you can buy all 3 book/CD sets on sale for $50. This is a great deal for these fantastic sets!

 

Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West

westwardhoThis set includes songs written around the time period of the western expansion. It is the perfect addition to studies on the time period of cowboys and rodeos, the California gold rush, logging in the Pacific Northwest, the Homestead Act, and other events of the 1800s.

This set contains many songs with which we were not familiar, so it definitely offered a great learning experience for us. My husband, being from the Pacific Northwest and close to the Cascade Mountains, was especially interested in the stories pertaining to his old stomping grounds. It led to some great storytelling sessions for our boys, as he related his own experiences with the area and his own family’s settlement.

Track listing for this set includes:

  • Apple Picker’s Reel
  • Boll Weevil
  • Missionary’s Farewell
  • Oh, California
  • Ho! For California
  • San Juan Pig War
  • Chisholm Trail
  • Westward Ho!
  • Home On The Range
  • Little Old Sod Shanty
  • Strawberry Roan
  • Old Settler
  • Gooey Duck
  • Little Cabin In The Cascade Mountains

 

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

musicalmemories_LIWThis set is sure to be a huge hit with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House fans. The songs have some familiar tunes, as well as some that were new to us. The book from this set is simply wonderful. It features real pictures of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, and shows many of the restored buildings of the Ingalls homestead and their surrounding landscape.

My boys are fans of the Little House On the Prairie show, so they were fascinated by the pictures and stories of the real Ingalls family. Pictures of the vast land, covered wagons, and steam engine locomotives, as well as stories of pioneer life had my boys completely captivated.

Track listing for this set includes:

  • Wait For The Wagon
  • Green Grows the Laurel
  • The Old Chariot
  • Buy A Broom
  • Sweet By and By
  • Rock Me To Sleep
  • Buffalo Gals
  • A Railroad Man For Me
  • Beware
  • Pop! Goes the Weasel
  • Oft in the Stilly Night
  • The Girl I Left Behind Me
  • My Sabbath Home

 

America: The Heart of a New Nation

America_heartofanewnationThis set features some of our country’s most familiar folk songs, which is sure to encourage plenty of sing-along fun. Songs like Erie Canal, Oh Susanna, and She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, are songs that I remember singing as a child, and having them as a part of this set provides a fantastic way to share those childhood favorites with my own children.

This set also includes some of our country’s most well known patriotic songs, including Yankee Doodle, as well as our national anthem. This is the perfect time of year to study these songs, and my boys were especially fascinated by the stories of soldiers, battles, and honor.

Track listing for this set includes:

  • Yankee Doodle
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Erie Canal
  • Oh, Susanna
  • Sweet Betsy From Pike
  • All Night, All Day
  • Old Dan Tucker
  • Wade In The Water
  • Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • Shenandoah
  • Git Along L’il Dogies
  • Drill Ye Tarriers
  • Polly Wolly Doodle
  • She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain
  • Old Joe Clark

 

Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring would make a perfect addition to any homeschool. These wonderful sets can be used to enhance both American history studies, as well as music appreciation courses. However, I think that they are more than just curriculum supplements. These sets can provide wholesome fun that the entire family can enjoy together, and truly make learning fun and engaging for all ages. I would highly recommend these sets for anyone of any age interested in taking a musical journey through early American history.

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Author Interview With Diana Waring

This week is the official launch of Diana Waring’s new Experience History Through Music series. This series includes 3 different sets of CDs featuring some of our country’s best loved folk music, as well as their accompanying books that tell the stories behind the songs. Our review for these fantastic products will be posted tomorrow. Until then, I would like to share a bit more with you about the author, Diana Waring, and an interview with her, in which she gives insight into her creation of this series.

About Diana Waring

DianaWaring_headshotAuthor of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

Author Interview With Diana Waring

 

1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

 

I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.

I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .

But music WAS in my grandparents’ lives. My father’s father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there — tell you later), and my mother’s father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.

Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .

Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.

Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings–but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!

Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring — and it was a JOY!!

 

2. How did you start writing history books?

 

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of “America.”  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

 

One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using musicexposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

 

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to knowabout how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the “secular” civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.

 

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making).  Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity toresearch and write!

 

Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much. 🙂

 

3. What is your favorite period of history?

 

My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!

 

I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath.  I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.

 

Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Security Resources Board, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951.  He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world war—which was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War.  I still remember listening to my grandfather say, “Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing. . .”  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.

 

So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.

 

4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

 

Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

 

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

 

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I’ve ever heard:  “Round Trip Ticket to Samoa”. . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents. 🙂

 

Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother’s piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beautywhen she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)

 

5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?

 

I LOVE “Ho for California” in Westward Ho!  Somehow, this one became my favorite. . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, “Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go.  There’s plenty of gold in the world we’re told on the banks of the Sacramento. . .”

 

“Gooey Duck”  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concerts.  There is something so catchy about this song!  Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho! book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams).  He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate.  That has tickled me ever since. . .

 

“Sweet Betsy From Pike” is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!

 

 

6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

 

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don’t you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

 

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.

Switched to oboe in 7th grade.

Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!

Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.

Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, “Godspell.”

Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.

Learned to play banjo when I was 23.

But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven’s 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

 

 

7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?

As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form.  “Old Settler” and “San Juan Pig War” are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .

 

And, I love “Sweet By and By.”  We used to end our “Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale” concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears. . .singing of our “bountiful Father above.

 

8. What value do you see in students learning America’s folk songs?

How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it’s music!

 

Plus, it’s part of our American heritage.  It’s part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into?? 🙂

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?

Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyone.  There is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of “stealth academics,” meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won’t even realize they are learning.  But YOU will.

 

10. Do you have other books/products in the works?

Always!!

Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, “Daughters of God.”  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.

Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.

Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

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