Golden Grasses

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tales from the Circle C Ranch- TOS Review

Circle C Adventures  by Susan K. Malow might sound familiar to you, as we reviewed Thick as Thieves by the same author at the end of March. This time, we had the opportunity to read  Tales from the Circle C Ranch.

Flower dove right in and didn't put the book down until she was finished with it. Upon completion, she picked up Thick as Thieves again and re-read it. Many happy sighs were heard as Flower read these books. They are perfect for tween girls (and big brothers who read them on the sly) who like excellent adventure writing and strong "G rated" values. 

This book allows us glimpses of Andi's childhood, spent in California in the 1800's. Flower found the writing interesting and thrilling. While this book consists of vignettes, the character development is what grabs you, pulls you in and you feel like you have become part of Andi's life. It's easy to relate to Andi's feelings and thoughts. The book ties everything to a relationship with God and living a life of faith- the family goes to church and scripture is used throughout the story. 

That being said, these stories are in no way pedantic, preachy or stuffy. The faith of Andi is blended throughout the story so that my tween daughter felt like it made sense. Andi's struggles and resolutions addressed some of Flower's feelings and struggles and offered kind and Godly resolutions to real life problems. In that, Malow allows the reader to transcend their own issues, relate to someone else and come to a resolution. That, my friends, is great writing. 

This story is true to the time period-"very historical," states my history loving daughter. The author writes about universal issues that young people face, regardless of the age in which they live. This series is very much like Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, with a different setting. 

Flower's over-all assessment of Tales from the Circle C Ranch? She is a total fan-girl and let me know that we needed to buy each and every book in the series as soon as possible! That is a huge endorsement from my history loving daughter.  Cub (aged 15) picked the books up on the sly, and read them too, so don't limit the books to girls only. They will have a wide-appeal and would be a perfect read-aloud! To view all of the books in the series, go to 

There is also a lap-books available for your craft loving children: Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook, making this book  a terrific option for co-ops and class days as it covers topics related to California, life in the 1800's, and much more! 

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Dynamic Literacy Review

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 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don't Panic! Homeschooling High School Blog Hop

This month's theme for the Home School High School Blog Hop is 

Planning for High School 
You are singing my song, baby! This is what I do professionally for a large academic company that services students all over the world. My students range from gifted Olympic hopefuls to profoundly learning or physically disabled from the U.S. and abroad. Give me a high-schooler and I can give you a plan and a Transcript (in my sleep!). 

We've had a homeshcooled high schooler in our home for the past 14 years (that's what happens when you have 5 kids with a 3-5 year spacing between each one!). I have a blog post that captures a whole slew of posts on planning for high school titled, ohsosubtly, Get With the Program. This post covers planning, pedagogy, managing your school-room and house, middle-school, high-school and Keeping it all Straight. Be sure to check it out and click on the links!
For the purposes of this post, let's start with pedagogy. Much of what we do educationally is guided by the Classical Method, specifically the Trivium, and as they move in to high school, the dialectic and rhetoric stages. We are looking for programs that teach logical thought and eventually take the kids to the point that they can creatively express their thoughts on a subject with beauty, truth and goodness. We have embraced a Classical Pedagogy for several years believing it to be effective, cost efficient, and totally in keeping with our Christian values and beliefs. We also take a very hands-on, experiential approach and include great books at every turn. Classical is our spine, with a liberal does of literature and project/ experiential based learning.
Based on this, how do we choose curriculum? We have a couple of curriculum suppliers that we know, trust and purchase from. This includes Memoria Press, Peace Hill Press, Roman Roads Media and Classical Conversations. In addition we do curriculum reviews and between the two, we are good. I stay away from other catalogs, because it distracts me from our program. We have enough exposure to new curriculum through reviews and friends that I'm in the loop with amazing new cool stuff that comes along. Additionally, I've found, limiting catalog consumpton on my part, keeps me from falling from the siren song of It's easier to stay the course if one is clear as to what the course is and is confident in it!

We follow a standard 4 x 4 transcript- 4 credits of Math, Science, English, History. Well, in theory we do. In reality my kids usually have 6-8 credits in History and English and 3-5 credits in Math and Science, with tons of extra-curriculars, way too much government/ campaigning and out of control Theater credits.
High School Credits- we go with the standard Carnegie unit- 120 hours of work = 1 credit, 60 hours = 1/2 credit, 30 hours = 1/4 credit. Some times that looks like a text book (complete a high school Apologia Science book with "On Your Own" questions and tests = 1 credit),hours on task (Shakespeare Camp), extra reading (completing all of the History of the World volumes by Susan Wise Bauer)  projects (drywalling, grouting, building bookshelves, brick-laying), camps (TeenPact), on-line classes (Bridgeway Acdaemy Science Labs), or co-ops and Tutoring Center.

We are not picky- we take credits where we find them, within the defined parameters of our pedagogy, 4 x 4 transcript goal and time. For an excellent resource on how to think outside the book regarding High School credits, I highly recommend Barb Shelton's HomeSchool Design Form+U+la. That is not to say that we count 1/3 of a textbook as a full credit, or a 15 hour Drama camp as 1/2 credit. I want my kids to know what academic hard work is, to be competitive against other kids who have done the actual full credits worth of work and the satisfaction of accomplishing a real thing.
Last year (Cub's 9th grade year), he did co-op classes (Poetry, Water-color, Middle East studies and a hands on Bio. lab) on-line labs and classes (Chem lab and Myths and Legends) , private tutoring (math), DVD's (The Greeks and First Form Latin), Classical Conversations (Essentials), Camps (Drama, Shakespeare, TeenPact, Speech), Textbooks (Science), Novels (too many to list), History for Fun (History of the Ancient World by SWB and the CC Timeline), Ballroom Dancing, hours outside and many, many hours spent honing his drawing skills. He also earned 11 credits, which was way too many and at one point we looked at each other and agreed that his schedule was out of control.

If it also looks like I am not actually teaching him that many classes, you are right. My role changes from primary teaching in the eled years to Mentor and Tour Guide in the high school years, resourcing my kids with opportunities, lessons and Tutors that go beyond what we can give our kids in terms of knowledge, time or energy.
We live in a low regulation state for Homeschoolers which means that there are high school graduation requirements but there is not a portfolio review to ensure they are done. Getting into college is not a worry for me in regards to my kids, or really most kids, unless they have some profound disability- it's paying for college without obscene debt that is the real challenge. Test scores are the real determinant of scholarship money, way beyond Transcipt- so Test Prep is part of our high school program. Khan Academy has free test prep and there are local and on-line Test Prep programs. I highly recommend having high schoolers do 2-3 practice tests before the actual test, so that they gain familiarity with the test before hand.  
Keeping Records- I make an outline of all four years of high school as the kids start High School - a "Start with the End in Mind" approach. Our map is divided into four years and includes summer camps and extra-curriculars. Transcripts are created at the end of High School using free on-line templates from, as well as creating my own using Word and inserting a graph. I prefer the by-the-year transcript instead of by-subject transcript, but that is a matter of preference. I do list Community Service, campaigning, camps, etc on a second page, high-lighting specific items, such as when the kids get a lead role in a full-length production of a Shakespeare play.

Extra-Curriculars- So glad you asked. We are involved in some really fun extra-curriculars including Drama Camp every spring. The High School Drama Camp now does a huge musical production every other year. Last year it was Joseph and the Technicolor Dream-Coat, which was amazing!  We also participate every January in the Festival of One Act Plays which takes place at a local university theater. Each summer, our kids live at a friends house, the same talented lady who directs the entire thing, for a week immersed in a Shakespeare Play, with a 2-hour performance given at a local park on the 6th day. Believe me, they know and love/hate the play by the end of camp! Feeche has also been involved in Poetry Outloud, which is a national recitation competition.
TeenPact has been in our lives since we brought it to South Dakota several years ago and our kids go through the State and Alumni Class, the 1-Day Speech Class and Back to D.C.
Cub wants to do Survival this year in the fall as well, depending on how much money he makes this summer. We've also been involved in tons of campaigns in the past, somewhat as a result of our involvement with TeenPact. Our older kids have been invited to work on State and National campaigns around the country and have been gifted free plane tickets, loads of caffeine and life- long friends in return for their service and energy.

There is Homeschool Ballroom Dancing, classes and DQ afterward every other week all year long and our kids love it. Each spring the parents invite kids to attend a Homeschool Dinner/ Dance that is semi-formal and includes crazy food and more dancing!

In the summer months, we all meet at a park for the kids to play volleyball. Some of the athletic, volleyball oriented Moms teach skills and drill the younger kids while the older ones jump right into games.
Friends of ours hosted a monthly "TeenNight" for 12 year olds and up in our area for years and their youngest just graduated. We've taken up the banner for this summer and are having a monthly get-together featuring fun, food and bon-fire, which includes air-hockey, smoke-bombs, and hide-and-seek over several acres, including old sheds, groves and fields. Everyone brings a snack to share and parents stay and visit, too.

Our kids also regularly work-out. Feeche was involved in the Timothy Group, which had a rigorous and demanding timed work-out schedule. Now the kids jog, trek, work-out on their own or go to our local small gym with me.  Cub wants to add Fencing and Tae-Kwon-Do this year but it is going to be dependent on times and ability to get there.

Cub also spends time doing things that interest him like project based art work, time shooting (guns and bows) and researching areas of interest. In our world, house projects figure heavily, as we've moved beyond re-building from a house fire to re-modeling a house that survived a house fire. The kids have learned amazing life skills including but not limited to drywalling, brick-laying, house-painitng and grouting. Shop class credit, Cha-ching!
Our teens have all held jobs- including working at Dr. Dh's office, haying, local farm work, working at coffee and tea houses, construction and orchard work. We live in the country, so local farm and orchard work is what's around, but it often pays more than minimum because it is demanding and dirty, and our kids work when they are at work, instead of checking Facebook.

College Credit during High School- the DE laws in our state just changed, so kids can start DE classes at age 16. Cub turns 16 this January, so DE courses, especially as he can do them on-line at home, may be something we try to fit in. He is taking another full-up course load, in addition to extra-curriculars and work, so we'll have to see how it can fit in. He may take some less demanding gen-ed courses, like Speech. Also, CLEPping is on our scope (our State schools take up to 10 CLEP courses- that's a year's worth of college for pennies on the dollar) and things like Western Civilizations I and II, along with Comp 101 will probably be done via CLEP as my kids live and breathe that stuff.
Holy Mackeral, as I write all of this down, it sounds like a lot and it is. Add in two working parents, a college kid in the house, a rising 7th grader, church, friends, teaching co-op and CC classes, speaking,  other obligations and we are full-up. Homeshcooling High School is a lot of fun, though, especially if you have teen-agers that have work/study skills and goals.

Our 15 year old rocks and is a fun combo of kid (he asked me to go see Jurassic World with him -of course I went!) and man (upper body strength, y'all), not to mention skills (brick walk laying-woot!). And he has the academic back-ground to engage delightfully on theology, doctrinal issues, history and politics. Love being home with my teen-agers!

I do lead a 3 hour High School Homeschool Mini-Workshop in homes and for larger venues such as conventions covering credits, transcripts, testing and so much more! as well private consulting on creating High School Maps and Transcripts for a reasonable fee. Feel free to leave a comment or pm me if you are interested in knowing more!

Take time to stop by the other Blogs in the Hop and read their amazing words of wisdom on Homeschooling Through High School! 
Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School
Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years
April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School
Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?
Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here's the Plan
Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don't Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop
Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program
Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School
Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years
Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School
Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool
Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan
Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School
Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans
Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, June 19, 2015

CC Parent Practicum

Our fair city hosted its first ever Classical Conversations 3- Day Parent Practicum this week. Our kids worked the kids camps as leaders and helpers and Dr. Dh and I were the Practicum speakers - 3 sessions for 3 days, including a Dad's luncheon. We had way too much fun teaching the Trivium, talking Science in the Trivium and sharing about the various CC programs. The result so far has been a 2nd Challenge Director and several new students in all the programs. How does having so much fun equal utter exhaustion and a trashed house?

Parent Practicum? What on earth are those women doing? An interpretive dance on the Days of Creation- GREAT rhetoric skills, before our very eyes! Love that!

On  jumped right back in to our day jobs and re-claiming the house. The house re-claimation program took concerted effort. There was not a clean dish to be found in the house. Flower and I folded and sorted 5 loads of laundry this morning and still have some ironing to do. At least the guys change the laundry around when they are taking their showers in the basement!

 Next week I am gone again to Challenge Training. The more I share about the program, the more excited I am for it. We'll have a bursting at the seams class and possibly a second one in town. Terrific kids, one and all!

The boys worked on the brick path today; laying hold of some professional grade foundation material. Love me some hard-scaping! Can't wait till it is finished!

Reviews- so much great new curriculum out there!
Dynamic Literacy
Apologia Nature Journal
Memoria Press -Ancients 
Piano With Willie
Don't forget to check out the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop- next posting is June 24!

End summer brain drain! Check out edX to stop summer brain drain. Tons of on-line classes, absolutely free-including lots of programming classes for some summer fun!

  "With no fact as a referent, what is normative is purely a matter of preference."
 Ravi Zacharias

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dynamic Literacy- Word Build Foundations- TOS Review

As you know, we are word lovers at Golden Grasses and spend a fair amount of time reading, writing, and sharing good words. Vocabulary is important to us, because it is foundational to clear communication, so we were excited to review Dynamic Literacy   Level 1 set  WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1Dynamic Literacy  focuses on Greek and Latin word roots presenting them in a way that is engaging and fun. The core of the program is this:
Word =prefix + root + suffix. 
Easy, right? And effective, because it gives the students the ability to de-code words, regardless of whether they've seen them or heard them before. 

The Teacher's Manual is chock full of great information, building the teacher's confidence and ability to grasp the program with ease. The point of the program is to learn 25 Greek and Latin word families in short, do-able lessons. If you, as an adult are intimidated by Latin or Greek Roots, need to build your own vocabulary for language study or work, this is a fantastic program as it equips the teacher to know and understand roots, pre-fixes and suffixes and use them successfully. In fact, I'll be teaching Latin this fall and plan to work through the WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 myself in preparation for that. 

Lessons follow three easy steps: 
Teach-- Complete---Discuss

Each Lesson includes Objectives, Materials and Differentiating Instruction (how to make it more or less difficult) as well as an estimated time for each lesson. 

The Student Activity Book is a slim volume and chock full of games. Fun games that are simple, effective, thought provoking and require the student to engage the material in a way that requires that student to engage and interact with the lessons. 

 Included in WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is a CD. The CD is not graphics driven with intense time pressure or sound, but a simple and effective tool to use in ones' pursuit of a great vocabulary. We "lost" a computer this year so screen time has been at a premium. Also, while my kids have a few computer games that they enjoy, they much prefer books for study, so it was no surprise to me that Flower preferred the workbook over the CD. That being said, the CD is a great tool to change things up, if you have multiple students in the same program, or just enjoy the ease of on-line learning. Classical music plays in the background, so your kids get the added benefit of gaining familiarity with beautiful music while they build a dynamic vocabulary! Definite win-win!

We have done various types of Language and root studies and found this program to be a terrific approach. Dynamic Literacy takes what could be a daunting/ boring subject (surely, I am not the only person who built their vocabulary by memorizing lists?!) and creates a fun, game oriented learning environment. The 15 minutes of regular study that this program requires flew by as Flower played games such as Root Squares, Magic Squares and Stair Steps. The program is simple enough that once the student understands it, they can take off at their own pace, which is exactly what Flower did.

This is a fun and very effective program. An excellent addition to your Language Arts program! 

Find  Dynamic Literacy Social Media:


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Dynamic Literacy Review

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Splash Season

Summer Splash Season is in session! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Apologia Field Trip Journal- TOS Review

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
We recently had the opportunity to review Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal published by 

Apologia Educational Ministries

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is a fun, colorful, scrapbook-y looking spiral bound journal. It is bright and colorful with heavy-duty journal pages and a glossy card stock cover. Inside you will discover the Table of Contents, which are, not surprisingly, all field trip related: 
Preparing for a Field Trip, Field Trip Ideas, Places I've Explored, Field Trip Pages, etc. 

There are maps, grids, blank areas to draw, lined areas to write in and more. Flower completed a page about our recent trip to the East Coast under, 

"Story of My Day"
"We drove for 2 long days/ encountering 2 semi-accidents and almost crashing into one of them. The trees and mountains were nice to see although terrifying since dad was driving fast and furious. When we finally arrived at our hotel, one of the staff members had given our room away."
Something I never want to forgetNever eat seafood (Flower got violently sick after eating seafood. 

Ah, life through the eyes of a child. Dr. Dh and I had a great laugh over her perspective, and who would have known if she hadn't written it down? 

Following the tradition of all great explorers and journalists, from naturalists like Audubon, to beloved authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, journaling is a time-tested method of recording one's every day experiences. Through them we gain valueable insights and discoveries, even about our own lives. 
If journaling isn't something that comes naturally to you, Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is a great way to jump start the tradition. If it's something that does comes naturally to you, the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal  makes a lovely, colorful keepsake to record ones travels. These would be fun to do with a co-op, for a child who is a reluctant writer, or one who loves to recorrd data and keep accurate records. For added fun gather together a whole pile of them, give them to everyone in the family and record a special trip or year's worth of field trips together. 

Flower will continue to add to hers as the upcoming months include more travel, camps and even more dissection in the fall! 

Another high quality product from the good folks at Apologia Educational Ministries

Read more first- rate reviews by my fellow Crewbies: 

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Drama Week Fun :Drama Week Exhaustion

This week consisted of our annual Drama Camp Practice and Performances. I directed Flowers group, The Bus Stop- a hilarious comedy about kooks on a public bus. 4 days of practice, then evening performance of 4 plays followed by an ice-cream social. The next night the Jr and Sr High Schoolers performed 3 plays on the local college stage. Throw in picnics and friends at the park every afternoon, Volleyball, costume acquisition, work and leaving the house early- we are all a good kind of tired, but super duper tired, nonetheless.
Drama Camp, Work and Reviews- two posted this week, including Piano With Willie and Memoria Press' The Book of Ancients set. Stay tuned for upcoming reviews including more vocabulary, Lee in Virginia and more- always more. Loving the richness of the curriculum world these days!

Also, be sure to check out the introductions to the current blog hop I'll be participating in for the next 7 months- Homeschooling High School. This came into being when those of us on the same Review Team realized that we were getting lots of questions about high school from homeschooling families with younger kids. This hop will cover record keeping, curriculum, extra-curriculars and much more! Spread the word !

We have a week break and then our area Classical Conversations Parent Practicum. We are all very involved and are very busy getting prepared to do our part. I really appreciate the Parent Practicums- they are encouraging, pragmatic, provide clear action steps and do-able implementation of the classical model of education. Good stuff and it's FREE.

We are still working on getting the last bit of brick walk laid. We have had an unusually wet spring and every free day has involved a lot of water. Slowly, slowly, it is coming together. Cub is working on getting the picket fence back up and we continue to take down ancient of days fencing and as a result have unloaded tons of chain link fencing and other miscellaneous stuff hanging out in sheds, the barn and side-yards. Our hay-the-fields-man has sprayed again and wow- our pastures are looking Be-ay-U-ti-ful!

A shout-out to my fellow blogger and friend, Jennifer. I needed a "Thank-you" gift for relatives with super gorgeous thick hair. Lila Rose to the rescue. Jennifer helped me long-distance, suggested gorgeous pins,barrettes and clips and made sure that we received a bonus as well! If you haven't discovered Lila Rose yet, check out Jennifer's  Lila Rose page!

Read Chuck Blacks' book; this week from the Wars of the Realm series on the recommendation of Cub- my reading buddy (he's a speed reader like me and has great tasted). A bit Frank Peretti-ish, but I loved the viewpoint of Spiritual warfare from an atheists pov. Also, watching more than our fair share of Dick-Van-Dkye- renamed Dyke, Dyke, Dyke in honor of Uncle N. Good, laugh-out-loud fun. Even the obvious jokes and gags are just darn funny- world class delivery by world class funny-people. And it's clean, too- no bathroom humor or crudity. Talent. @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!