Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Great Depression by !zzit

Your teens will love The Great Depression video from !zzit.org, and you'll be glad they watched it. They really will learn something! This 12-minute video explains the causes of the Great Depression in a way that anyone can understand. The adorable, teenage hostess, Carra Cheslin, is a pleasure to watch as she visits the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve in her quest to explain what happened to cause the Great Depression, how people were affected, and how we avoided a similar depression in 2000.

Included on the DVD is a teacher's guide which includes discussion questions and a quiz, as well as a transcript of the video. Using this video is an effective way to interest your teens in the Great Depression and the Stock Market. Even your younger children will enjoy it. The video is professionally produced and will definitely appeal to its target audience - teens.

The only drawback for homeschool families is the price. At $29.95, it's expensive for a 12-minute introduction to the Great Depression. The price makes an item like this out of reach for a majority of homeschooling families. One solution would be to have your homeschool support group purchase the video and make it available to its members in the lending library. For those that can afford it, it's a wonderful resource to keep on hand for additional children as they reach their teen years.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review of Max’s Mystery Travels by Nancy Ann Van Wie

Max's Mystery Travels is a series of books developed by Nancy Ann Van Wie. The series includes Mystery Books, Activity Books, Teacher's Guides, and School Workbooks.

Mystery Books:

The Mystery Books are stand-alone, chapter books that can be read without having to use the Teacher’s Guides, School Workbook, or Activity Books. For this review, I read Mystery at the White House: A President is Missing, and I found it delightful! I can’t imagine any child, ages K-4+ who will not enjoy reading (or being read to from) this book.

Mystery at the White House is 133 pages long and has black and white illustrations. The illustrations are cute and add to the enjoyment. The story is funny, clever, and fun to read. While reading the story, your child will learn about Washington, D.C., Gilbert Stuart, and the White House. The author knows how to grab the reader’s attention and keep it.

My only objection to the book is that the author trivialized the President’s work by having his “very important” meeting be a golf game. I think this incident could have been used to introduce the students to something the President does that really is important, such as meeting with a leader from another country. However, this was not a major part of the book, so it did not affect my overall enjoyment. Mystery at the White House is an enjoyable book that will not only entertain your students, but educate them as well.

Activity Books:

The Activity Books are lots of fun, and I know your students will enjoy them. Each book includes the same type of black and white illustrations as does all the other resources. While not the best illustrations in the world, they are cute and most kids will enjoy them.
Each Activity Book includes a variety of activities such as coloring pages, hidden objects, crossword puzzles, maps, fill-ins, mazes, connect-the-dots, word finds, brain teasers, coded messages, and fun facts.
The Activity Books can be used as a stand-alone product or along with the Teacher’s Guide and School Workbook. Homeschoolers could use the Activity Books as supplements to any unit study on the same topic.

Teacher's Guide and School Workbook:

The Teacher’s Guide and School Workbook go together. The Teacher’s Guide provides vocabulary words, instructions for using the worksheets, ideas for integrating other subjects, such as math and language arts, into the curriculum, as well as answers to the school workbook. The School Workbook includes worksheets that go along with the lesson plan. It includes activities similar to the Activity Books. The Teacher’s Guide includes additional worksheets in the back of the Teacher’s Guide, which can be used to further reinforce each lesson.

As of this writing, the topics covered in the Max's Mystery Travels series include Washington, D.C., the White House, the Unites States Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, How a Bill Becomes a Law, How American Citizens Elect Their Leaders, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Statue of Liberty, and Math is Fun.

For more information, see their Web site at Travels with Max.

For more reviews by Cindy Downes, see Reviews.

Monday, June 1, 2009

May Contest Winner - Amy Farris!


AMY FARRIS  won the Medieval Times Hands On Heritage Activity Book! Congratulations Amy!