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Category Archives: Homeschool

Family Honor Plate & Table Thyme Discussion Cards Review

Hello again, friends! Today I have another review for you. This one is a little bit different, but is such a great idea. It really is perfect for this time of year, when stress is high, and we often lose sight of the more important, smaller things in our everyday lives. I’m talking about the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards.

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So what’s this plate all about? Basically, the Family Honor Plate is a way for the entire family to recognize and encourage displays of good character in the home. The creators of this plate suggest a simple 3 step process for implementing the plate.

  1. Parents model Christlike behavior for their children. Virtues are listed in the center of the plate, to serve as a point of reference.
  2. Parents then watch for their children displaying these virtues and making proper choices throughout the day.
  3. Parents then present dinner for the child on the Family Honor Plate, and talk about the behaviors and choices that led to them receiving the honor of eating from the special plate.

The plate is meant to be personalized for your family. Directions and supplies are included for decorating the plate to make it truly special and unique for your family. Younger kids especially will love being able to personalize the plate, and adding their own personal touch will make them feel even more special when it’s their turn to be honored with the plate.

Here is a video that walks you through it

So what all is included?

  • Family Honor Plate
  • plate stand
  • set of 7 paints
  • 3 paint brushes
  • palette
  • instruction booklet

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So what was our experience like using the family honor plate? Well, as some of you know, I am a mom of older kids (teenagers) so our experience is a bit different. My boys chose not to decorate the plate (though I still hope they come around and decide to do so.) And instead of serving a meal on the plate, we keep it in the center of our dining room table. We then use small strips of paper to write down displays of Christlike character that we all observe in each other. We then fold the paper and put it on the plate. I like the fact that my boys also get to take part in this observation process. I think it helps them be more aware of others’ behavior, which then encourages them to reflect upon their own. Once the plate starts to fill up a bit, usually once a week, we open up all the slips of paper and talk about all of the good behaviors we have observed in each other. This simple plate, and the practice we have implemented, has been awesome for our family. To see teenage boys encourage each other in their character development and walk with the Lord has been such a blessing to me.

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The second item I received from this company is Table Thyme Discussion Cards. This is a set of wire-bound cards, with a question on the front and back of each, that you can sit on the table, and take turns flipping through with the family. These cards ask all kinds of questions to really get some family discussions going. The best part is that every question is followed by a “why?” (No more single-word answer from your teenagers!) Some questions are more simple and fun, while others might require a bit more thought. Either way, they will definitely open up some more interesting discussions than the typical “how was your day?” My boys have a lot of fun with these cards. They especially love the role of choosing and asking the questions. These cards have really helped to extend our family time together at the dinner table. We just love them.

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Find out more about the creator of these products, Michelle, HERE

To purchase the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards, CLICK HERE.

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The ESV Illuminated Bible – Review & GIVEAWAY!

Hello readers! It has been quite a while since my last post, and I know most of us are running around crazy trying to prep the turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving! But, I hope you all can take a moment to check out this BEAUTIFUL new Bible that I just received, as I’m sure it will make the perfect choice for a Christmas gift this season!

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I’m talking about the brand new ESV Illuminated Bible! Friends, this is no ordinary Bible. I must say I have NEVER received a more beautiful item to review for this blog. This Bible is absolutely gorgeous! It is a dark blue (other options available) cloth hardcover, with a permanent slipcase, both of which feature gold foil floral design.

 

 

This gold is carried over onto the gilded pages as well. And the gold doesn’t stop there. What makes this Bible truly special is the artwork contained within the pages. There are over 500 gold ink illustrations within the pages of this Bible, which range from full-page book title pages to small hand-lettered verses in the margins.

 

 

As I have said before, I am a huge fan of Bible journaling. This Bible is perfect for journaling, with its wide margins and smooth cream paper. There is plenty of room for additional lettering, sketches, and writing. And if you love the idea of journaling, but you don’t feel comfortable with your hand lettering and drawing abilities, this Bible is the perfect solution. The pages are already decorated with beautiful artwork, so you can just use the remaining margin space for adding personal notes, thoughts, prayers, etc. Or, for that matter, you don’t HAVE to write or draw at all. The pages are so elegantly done, they can certainly just be left as-is.

The quality of this Bible is simply amazing. It would definitely make the perfect gift for any special person in your life. (And let’s face it, is there any better gift for anyone than the Word of God?) It is sure to be a family heirloom.

If you would like to know more about the making of The Illuminated Bible, check out the video below:

Ok, now you’ve seen it, so I’m sure you’re wondering where to get your own! See below for all the Bible’s full specs, and then head over to purchase your own gorgeous copy on Amazon HERE or from the Illuminated Bible website.

The ESV Illuminated Bible places the full ESV text alongside over 500 elegantly hand-lettered gold ink illustrations by renowned artist Dana Tanamachi. Printed on thick cream-colored paper, the Bible’s single-column text setting and wide margins provide generous space for additional notes, prayers, and designs—inviting readers to creatively engage with and reflect on the beauty of God’s Word.

  • 9-point, Lexicon
  • Black letter text
  • 2-color printing
  • 64 full-page, custom book opener illustrations
  • 50 full-page verse illustrations
  • 250+ hand-lettered margin verses
  • 100+ other illustrations throughout
  • Illustrated by Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by Google, The Wall Street Journal, Random House, USPS, and Target
  • Thick, cream-colored paper
  • Wide margins
  • Single-column, paragraph format
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: Permanent Slipcase

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About the Artist:

Dana Tanamachi is an American lettering artist, graphic designer, and illustrator whose exquisite typographic murals ignited the worldwide chalk-lettering trend.  She has been commissioned by clients such as Instagram, Target, Google, Time Magazine, Nike, and West Elm. Learn more at tanamachistudio.com.

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I’M ALSO HOSTING A GIVEAWAY, FRIENDS!! ONE OF MY READERS WILL WIN A COPY OF THIS FANTASTIC BIBLE!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!!

 

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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 reviewand 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.

 

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 FacebookPlease 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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