Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 30

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We have entered the final stretch of school. I feel like that we are on that last 45 minutes left on a really long road trip back home. There is so much to look back on for which to be thankful, but there's no place like home. The boys are still doing a great job at doing their best, but all of us feel the call of the lazy days of summer.

This week we read about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, Festo Kivengere of Uganda, and life during the 60's and 70's in America. Aedan drew a picture of Dr. King from Draw and Write Through History.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 30

Monday, April 17, 2017

As I said in Aedan's post, we are doing our very best to finish strong. These last few weeks have been going well, but I also am looking forward to a break. In year's past we have rushed to the finish line, but I decided this year that we should just take the days as they come. There are plenty of summer days to go around without having to make ourselves miserable to get there.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 29

Monday, April 10, 2017

This week we learned more about the Civil Rights Movement, The Six-Day War, and the OPEC Oil Embargo. We have had more and more interesting conversations around the dinner table because my husband has always loved to talk about history, but now my kids have the context.

We learned more about Martin Luther King Jr.'s impact on civil rights.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 29

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hi again! We enjoyed our week off, and I am finally catching up here. It's been fun reading through John with Silas for history. It's my favorite gospel, so it's been really neat discussing it each day. We read the feeding of the 5000, Jesus calming the sea, the healing of the blind man, and other miracles. While doing so we have read the prophecies from the Old Testament, and their fulfillment in the New Testament through Jesus.

I love how HOD history projects are a way to make what we read more memorable. This week we made an origami boat and painting of a stormy sea. We read about the day Jesus walked on its stormy waters and calmed that troubled sea.

Lightning Lit & Comp - Junior High - Grades 7 & 8 {Review}

Friday, April 7, 2017

Well hello there, you book lover, you! Who else would click on such a blog post title? Choosing a literature program can be a difficult task given the many options that are available. I've always been a lover of classic books, but I could never find a program that chose the kinds of books I would have on my personal list of favorites. When I happened upon Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Literature last school year, my heart skipped a beat. Not only did it include many of the books I already hoped my kids would get the chance to read, but it included writing lessons based on literary elements used by these fantastic authors. Not only has my son especially enjoyed the books, but he has also learned to love writing. What mom wouldn't smile about that?

I found Lightning Lit halfway through 7th grade. I remember hearing of it here and there, but I had never taken a close look. I wish I had found it sooner because it was exactly what I had been looking for all along! After posting my review of Lightning Lit American and British lit for high school, I had many requests to review Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Lit for middle school. Thank you all for being so patient with me. This review has been in the works for a while.

There are two sets of Lightning Lit books available for middle school that would cover both 7th and 8th grades. These are all the books you will need for Lightning Lit 7th grade.

There is a Teacher's Guide, Student Guide, and Student Workbook for each middle school level.

Each Lightning Lit level includes whole books, short stories, and poetry. I really love that this program uses whole books instead of excerpts. Excepts to me are like eating the ice cream cone and forgetting about the ice cream. You can get the flavor of an author from the excerpt, but a story needs to be experienced from beginning to end in order to understand the author's intent. How can you only read about Tom and the white fence, but not experience his interactions with Huck?

And for the record, my son asked if he was reading Huck Finn next year, because (gasp), he was going to read it on his own if not. Yes, even a 14 year old boy in today's world would read a classic on his own if he had the opportunity to be exposed to them early on. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer made it to his Top 5 favorite books of all time. It also made mine. I hadn't had the chance to read it until this year. It was laugh out loud funny. Truly, this book is the quintessential classic.

Each book, short story, and selection of poetry is used to illustrate a literary element. I've listed the books and correlating lessons for each guide.

"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" by Rudyard Kipling from Stories & Poems - Plot Line
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - Plot Line in a Novel
Selected Poems from Stories and Poems - Introduction to Poetry and Rhyme
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Creativity
"The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" by Stephen Crane from Stories & Poems - Dialogue
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller - Autobiography 
Selected Poems from Stories & Poems - Sounds in Poetry
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot - Writing about Other People

One thing I really appreciate about Lightning Lit is that most of it is non-consumable. I will only need to repurchase the student workbook when my youngest son gets to this age.

I love that the book and assignments are broken up by week rather than day by day, so we can go at our own pace.

The first thing I will do is walk you through one lesson. The Student guide always introduces the lesson. We first read an introduction about the author, which always provides a picture of why they wrote what they wrote during the time in which they lived.

One of Aedan's favorite books in the 7th grade set was Alice in Wonderland. If this book doesn't capture your imagination I really don't know what would. My boys have always loved fantasy books and out-of-this-world settings. My son loved this book!

 The student guide includes comprehension questions and vocabulary. We always read the vocabulary words together. I have my son read the word and definition out loud.  Letting him try to pronounce difficult and unfamiliar words is still good practice even at this age.

When he is finished reading I have him orally narrate what he liked most about that chapter, and then I go over the comprehension questions. I try not to belabor comprehension questions as it can sometimes sap the joy out of reading. Instead of asking the question directly I might ask him to tell me about a character or event. Often this open-ended approach is met with a better attitude than super specific questions would be, although those have value as well.

After we finish the book we move on to the workbook, but before we do we read a literary lesson. The Literary Lesson for Alice was about Creativity, of course! It discussed how to bring two things together in a creative way: how to invent or tweak a real thing; and how to use creative language.  It explored the "What If?" creative technique that Carroll employed by asking "What if a little girl fell down a hole and found a new world there?"

One of my favorite things about Lightning Lit is that we don't start written work until after we have enjoyed the novel or work in its entirety. Nothing is less fun than tediously dissecting a book with workbook pages every.single.day. What's especially awesome about Lightning Lit Workbook pages is that they are actually meaningful and are directly related to the style of writing presented in the book. This gives our kids an opportunity to try on this style for themselves. On this one he combined two different beings into one.

Then he changed something into another thing.

He answered some "What If?" questions.

He worked on figures of speech.

He also worked on similes. There is usually also an additional Mini Lesson that is sometimes related to workbook pages. The Mini Lesson in Alice was about "Nonce Words," which are words an author might invent. Aedan had fun with that!

The book suggests that you complete the workbook pages before attempting the writing assignment for each unit. The workbook pages develop the ideas and skills necessary for completing the assignments. I really like how there are a variety of writing assignments. They range in difficulty and style. I usually let my son decide which one he would be most interested in trying to write. They do suggest trying to do at least one writing assignment per unit, but you may do more if your child is interested.

On to 8th grade! Lightning Lit 8 is far more fresh on my brain because we are living it right now. I was so excited to start Lightning Lit this year from the very beginning. We are currently on the final book, To Kill a Mockingbird.

There are a few additional books as we are one grade older this year. These are all absolutely fantastic books! We used Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children for All Ages last year in the 7th grade program. This book alone is worth having on your shelf. It's such a treasure trove of poetry and short stories.

I really love that Lightning Lit throws in a few less familiar titles, or at least they were to me. A Day of Pleasure was a wonderful peek into the life of those living in Hasidic Jewish communities around the time of WWI in Warsaw. This tied in perfectly to our study of history this year. My son also really enjoyed My Family and Other Animals. It reminded me so much of my animal-loving boy at that age. He really enjoyed reading about the lives of pirates in Treasure Island as well! We had already read The Hobbit in a previous year, so we reluctantly skipped that one. I wish we could have approached it in the Lightning Lit way.

"A Crazy Tale" by G.K. Chesterton from Stories & Poems - Author's Purpose
Treasure Island by Robert L. Stevenson - Setting
A Day of Pleasure by Isaac Bashevis Singer - Sharing Your Culture
"Wakefield" by Nathaniel Hawthorne from Stories & Poems - Details in Writing
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Character Development
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Conflict
"Reflections" by Lafcadio Hearn from Stories and Poems - Symbolism
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell - Humor
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Writing a Literary Analysis
Various Poets (Whitman, Emerson, Keats, etc.) - Vivid and Figurative Language & Meter

Lightning Lit 8 follows the same format as Lightning Lit 7. The reading assignments become longer, and there is a little more written work as should be expected. Having seen the progression from Lightning Lit 7 & 8 up through American and British Lit for high school, the progression upward is painless because each year expects a little more, but not so much that it's overwhelming.

One of Aedan's favorite books this year was A Christmas Carol. The literary lesson and writing assignments on Character Development for this book were especially fun for my son.

The first thing we did before starting to read A Christmas Carol was to read a short introduction to the author.

I've approached vocabulary the same as I did last year. We read the words together before each chapter, which gives me an opportunity to see which words he knows or those that would be new to him. It helps to be prepared for when he runs into those words in the text.

Lightning Lit 8 (like level 7) has comprehension questions in the Student Guide and the answers in the Teacher's Guide. I try to pre-read the books, but sometimes I can't. The answers help me if I haven't read ahead, and also help me refresh my own memory if I my reading was in the distant past.

After completing the reading, we read a lesson on Character Development in the Student Guide. It walked us through how to make a character sketch, how to use description, the opinion of others, back story, actions, speech, and how to use change to develop a character.

There was also a mini lesson on how to use a narrator to develop a character.

The workbook walked us through all of the ideas presented in the literary lesson.

Aedan had fun developing his character Man-Super.

His character was really silly, but he had a lot of fun working on it. I love when I see him not doing the bare minimum. It means he is actually enjoying himself.

He worked on the back story of Man-Super and his actions to show what he is like.

He developed how his character speaks and a change the character goes through.

There was an additional lesson on Tone and Mood in the workbook.

The teacher guide will often give you answers and help with how to work through the workbook.

Lastly, he did his writing assignment. He chose #1, which was to write a story with the character he developed in the workbook pages. He wrote a very wild story, about Man-Super and his evil twin, that was fully illustrated. I love that he had so much fun doing a lesson that used a classic like A Christmas Carol as a springboard for inspiration. We ended up watching both movies of the story (old and new) and contrasted which was closer to the book. 

I hope I've given you a good picture of how much we love this program. I will definitely use it for my younger son. That is often a question I ask when people say they love a curriculum: Would you use it again? The answer is often very telling. 

Do you have any questions about Lightning Lit? I love chatting about things we love using. Please feel free to ask away!

If you would like to get updates on what is happening around here at Monarch Room please follow us over on Facebook (here) or Instagram (here.) 

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 28

Monday, March 27, 2017

This is our final year in a full 4 year history cycle. As we get nearer and nearer to current history I realize how little has changed. Even as far back as the history we are studying in Ancient Rome, there are so many similarities. Humankind has had many heroes and many villains throughout all time. The have always been meaningless wars, and until Jesus comes again there may always be. As my boys get older and we read about the drafts of various wars I long for peace in the world. I don't know how I could have faced some of these historical days without the Christian hope.

This week in history we learned about the presidents that came after the assassination of Kennedy and the war in Vietnam.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 28

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This year we have really loved learning ancient history from the time of creation up to the point of the Roman empire. This week we finally got to read about the event that changed the course of human history forever; the birth of Christ. Because we have read about all of the events that led to his coming to earth, and it makes his arrival so much more meaningful.

For weeks 28 through the rest of the year our history spine is the Bible. We will read through all of John and through Acts for the rest of the year. We have had lots of neat discussions about this.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 27

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Welcome to the 60's! This week we learned about The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, and the presidency and assassination of John F. Kennedy. We had the opportunity to chat with my inlaws about their experiences and what they remember from the 60's. They grew up in D.C and Alabama and then went to college in Florida. Many of the events we have read about these past few weeks happened in their own back yards. The Cuban Missile Crisis happened while they were students in Florida. They said it was a frightening time, and I can see why! The one great regret I have is not having asked my grandparents more questions about their lives. I didn't know I would be such a lover of history when they were still around. Go talk to your elders while yous till can.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 27

We are happily moving forward here at Monarch Room. It took a few days to adjust to Daylight Savings Time, but the longer days and sun have helped perk us up after a long winter. Hopefully we won't regret taking more breaks and ending a little later this year. The extra breaks have really helped us relax more and enjoy catching up on life outside of school.

Lightning Lit & Comp - American & British Literature {Review}

Friday, March 17, 2017

Are you ready to swoon? If you're a bibliophile like me, you will have to fan yourself a little once you take a look at all of these lovely treasures we get to explore over the next few years. Nothing, no nothing gets me as excited as a beautiful stack of books!

I remember the moment I fell in love with history, and it wasn't in a history class. I fell in love with history in my first literature course I took in college. It was the first time I heard the voices from the past, and it was then that I wanted to learn more about the history of humankind. I was so tired of dry and dusty textbooks. It took me a while before I found a literature program that focused on the types of books I personally would choose. I found it was really difficult to find a company that chooses classics based not only on literary merit, but also historical significance. I love that Lightning Lit's book choices not only highlight excellent writing, but often also give a voice to a time and place. My hope is that my boys, too, will fall in love with literature and history when they hear these voices from so long ago.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 26

Monday, March 13, 2017

This year we have the joy of doing the same history program as dear friends. This means that we sometimes get to combine activities. We are currently studying the rise and fall of ancient Rome. We read about how the Romans were initially farmers, but eventually began to live more for pleasure, luxury and entertainment. Our history activity was to have a Roman feast to show what it might have been like. Our friends are 3 weeks ahead of us, but they still wanted to do the Roman meal together. These activities are always way more fun with friends!

We skipped lunch and decided to have the feast in the afternoon. The boys were all very excited about all the great food!

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 26

Sunday, March 12, 2017

We are really enjoying history this year. After leaving the ancients, medieval times, and the American Revolution behind, it's nice to hear the voices of the people we are learning about. One of the benefits of the modern age is we have footage and audio of the last hundred years that are preserved for all time which at times is for the best and for the worst.

This week one of our focuses was on modern evangelists. I had the opportunity to hear Billy Graham preach in his later years in one of his last crusade tours in our city. I've always loved Billy Graham, but I have even fonder feelings toward Ruth Bell Graham. Sometimes we never get to meet our mentors, but I would consider her one of mine.

Apologia - Exploring Creation with Biology {Review}

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

High school is upon us (gulp.) Way back when I was a new homeschool mom to a preschool-aged child, I remember shaking in my boots at the thought of eventually teaching high school math and science. As we progressed through the years, however, I started gaining confidence and worried less than I did in those early years. What I’ve found is that there are so many companies that make it easy to homeschool. We modern homeschoolers have the benefit of the pioneers who paved the way for us and made so many great products available to us who would follow in their footsteps. 

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 25

Monday, March 6, 2017

It's interesting sometimes swinging from modern history to ancient history, but somehow it's working. This week I learned about the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. with Aedan and about Rome's defeat of Carthage in ancient times. I've done history a little differently this time with Silas. We have been reading history together, and it seems like we both enjoy it so much more. He was handling it fine on his own, but he's still my cuddly fellow. We are really enjoying learning together. What's great is that you can do one or the other depending on time or ability.

The Roman army used catapults in battle. Our history project was to make a few different types of catapults. We already had one from when we did a unit study on Leonardo DaVinci last year.
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