Saturday, September 23, 2017

Belize Armadillo

Last week I shared a Haitian Market Art project with you from Alyssa's new homeschool geography curriculum. This week she finished another neat project. We were studying Belize and the featured craft was an armadillo. The author, Carol Henderson, also provided the user with the step-by-step directions, artwork printables, and a link to learn more about armadillos in Belize. We are familiar with and have seen many armadillos, because we live in Texas.

The Armadillo of Belize is a easy craft suitable for all ages. It took her about an hour to complete this project. We gathered the materials needed using the supply list. We did NOT have any Bubble Wrap so we used a small, round sponge brush to create the armadillo armor. 
  • White and Brown-Toned Cardstock Paper
  • Grey or Brown Paint
  • Bubble Wrap or Round Sponge Brush
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick 
  • Tape

The first step was for me to print the the artwork printables on sturdy cardstock. The printables are provided for Let's Go Geography users in the Printables section of the file. The armadillo was printed on brown-colored cardstock and the background was printed on white cardstock.

The next step was for Alyssa to color the background as a dry, earth scene using blue, green, and earth-toned brown colors. She wrote Belize at the top of her paper using a red crayon.  

Then, she cut out and assembled her armadillo using tape and a glue stick.

She dabbed the brown paint on the armadillo's armor using her round sponge brush. The armadillo will need a few minutes to dry before handling it.

My daughter used a glue stick to attach the armadillo to the colored background.
Featured Craft:
Armadillo in Belize
I will link this post at the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop and Sometimes Wordless Wednesday at Tots and Me. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Let's Go Geography

Let's Go Geography

My daughter said one of the best review products we've utilized this year was Let's Go Geography which is our weekly homeschool geography curriculum. It is an online membership subscription created by Carol Henderson. We received a one-year digital subscription of the Year 1 curriculum. A weekly email reminder with the link to the next lesson arrives in my inbox prior to the new country study. The curriculum has both an online and printable component.

Let's Go Geography is suitable for elementary-aged children in K-4th grade. The curriculum is intended to be used once a week for about an hour. Keep reading my review to see how we used it.

Two features of this geography curriculum for kids that you might appreciate are the breaks and reviews. Breaks allow the child time to finish all the projects up to date or to schedule a week without Geography lessons. Review lessons cover and summarize content previously taught. Some new basic map skills are also introduced. The 36-week program includes 4 break weeks and 4 review lessons. Week 9 is the first break week and Week 12 is the first review lesson. The first three review lessons cover previously learned material addressing two continents at a time and the last review session reviews material for ALL continents. The curriculum is organized and divided into two 18-week semesters. Each lesson serves as a stand-alone product. The lesson content does NOT build on each other.

This curriculum offers plenty of content to use throughout an entire school year. Each lesson studies one specific country and includes map work, engaging activities, educational video links, a photo album highlighting beautiful landmark images, featured hands-on crafts, optional literature recommendations based on library call numbers, related country-specific coloring pages, and online website suggestions to further research. The company also offers Internet Safety Precautions to read over before you start. I highly suggest reading it.

Access to all PDF formatted files is given to one teacher for homeschool usage and/or all co-op classes taught through the online subscription. You can login and download each individual lesson for the entire year one by one if desired. All weekly lessons are formatted in a similar fashion. The Table of Contents shows you how the material will be presented. The Table of Contents for each weekly lesson is organized into seven sections which includes 6 chapters. The review lessons do not include the Music chapter.
  • Are You Ready?
  • Chapter 1: Map It!
  • Chapter 2: The Flag
  • Chapter 3: The Music 
  • Chapter 4: Let's Explore
  • Chapter 5: Create! 
  • Chapter 6: Printables

Let's Go Geography

Year 1 is the first part of a 3-year curriculum. The program covers World and US Geography. Your child will explore and discover new information about 26 countries around the world in addition to 2 US regions each year. The same format is followed for Year 2 and 3 which are works in progress. Check out the scope and sequence below showing all of the countries you'll study. All continents are covered each year. These lists allow you to plan ahead.
Let's Go Geography
Click to Enlarge

About the Author
Carol Henderson was a homeschooling mom for 25 years. She now has 5 grown-up children. She is currently teaching Geography and History in a large co-op classroom setting. She posts useful resources on her other website called and is the author of Let's Go Geography.

How We Used Let's Go Geography
I received an email with a coupon code to purchase the subscription. I have unlimited access to the digital content for one-year. I had no problems accessing the content or materials. I opened the link on my Mac OS X 10.11.6 which is an early 2009 computer. We prefer using Chrome as our browser and Adobe Reader was necessary to open and save the PDF downloadable files. You'll definitely need a stable Internet connection and a printer.

The curriculum was used with my nine-year-old daughter who is currently in 4th grade. She is at the tail end of the suggested age range, but since the content was all new and we've never studied individual countries in depth I knew it would be beneficial to our homeschool. She worked through the majority of the materials independently. This was her core World and US Geography curriculum for the summer and the new school year.

Travel Journal and Divider Tabs
My daughter first chose a cover for her Travel Journal which stored all the completed weekly activities. She was given four different cover design options. We printed the cover in color on cardstock paper and placed it at the front of a two-inch 3-ring D binder in the clear overlay pocket. Notes are scattered throughout the curriculum reminding you of items to store in the binder. This will be an awesome keepsake at the end of the year and will make it easy for Alyssa to share her work with her father. I hope to photograph all of the hands-on featured crafts so that she can include them in the binder. I wish there was a decorative journal printable page for this purpose. She could label the photo and write about the craft.

Alyssa and I created the Divider Tabs for the Travel Journal binder together. First, the divider tabs and continent images were cut out. The images may include specific animals, famous locations, people, and a map outline. Then, she spaced them out to glue down on colored cardstock paper. The continent dividers were color-coded as follows:
  • North America - Blue
  • South America- Red
  • Europe - Orange
  • Africa - Green
  • Asia - Yellow
  • Australia/Antarctica - Purple   

Then, Alyssa assembled her Passport. We also received the passport printables with the reviewer coupon code we were given. She followed the directions to create it. The passport offered space for a head shot photo. At the time of this review, the author also offered the passport printable as a freebie if you shared her Let's Go Geography curriculum on social media. The passport printable can also be purchased separately through their online store.
Country Flags Glued on Continent Pages

It was easier for me to download and print the materials on a week by week basis the night before the study began. I love that this curriculum requires minimal parent and teacher prep especially if you are using this with older more independent learners. All the work is done for me. I simply choose and print activities. Since it was our first time using the product, I decided to break up the content over several days which would allow my daughter time to explore the country and get familiar with the types of activities. Each week was printed and organized into three daily lessons. The materials were paper clipped together. I placed her daily activities in her Geography workbox.

We covered one lesson each week. My daughter worked on the Geography lesson three days each week. A fourth day was used to catch up if needed. The amount of time spent working on lessons each day varied from 30-90 minutes. There is no way we could complete ALL the activities on ONE day within an hour, because she tends to dawdle and take rabbit trails when exploring. Thursdays and Fridays were considered our catch-up days if needed. I believe it would be best to spread out the activities over 2-5 days for younger students in K-3rd grade. We worked through the lessons in sequential order. The first place we visited was the Northeast region in North America. We completed five lessons during the review period. We learned about the Northeast, Hawaii, Canada, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Today is our last day of our Belize study.

Review Week
Week 12 is the first review week which covers North and South America content. The 30-page lesson introduces and reinforces basic map skills including but not limited to understanding latitude and longitude, labeling compass rose directions, and identifying the Equator.

The review begins with basic fact sheets for North and South America including information about the square miles compared to the USA, first three common languages, and the continent. A Travel Itinerary is also provided with completion check off boxes. No featured crafts are offered during the review weeks. Two coloring pages are provided which gives children more time to catch up on previous lessons. Children who like animals will enjoy these printables. Educational links about particular animals are included for further study. My daughter will love this feature! They can learn more about the animals if desired. As with the other weekly lessons optional reading suggestions from the library are given based on the call number and online reading resource links are added to the lesson.

Alyssa will identify, color, and label countries on blank printable maps. Helpful map links are provided. Then, my daughter will complete a map activity page about latitude and longitude. Next, she will match flags to their corresponding countries for both North and South America. The author includes a Let's Explore North and South America section. Interesting facts are mentioned. The child will then match pictures seen during exploration to the corresponding country. All answer keys and printables are included for activity sheets and lessons.

Remember the goal of this curriculum is NOT mastery it is exposure. The more we expose our children to the world around them the more educated and culturally aware they will become.

Haiti: A Glance at a Weekly Schedule  
Before I show you how we utilized the curriculum I wanted to share another cool curriculum feature with you. A Trip Itinerary is a checklist provided at the beginning of the lesson so that your child can mark lesson components off the list once completed and track her progress. You can see an example of the Haiti Travel Itinerary below. My daughter places a checkmark in each box after completing activities.

Day 1: Fact Sheet, Flag & Passport, Maps, and Music 
We begin the lesson with the Are You Ready? page. Alyssa read aloud this fact information sheet. Basic information was listed about Haiti such as the continent, capital city, largest city, language, population, and number of square miles. She learned that Port-au-Prince was the Haiti's capital and largest city.

She colored, cut, and glued the Haitian Flag to the flag activity page. She colored a second flag to add to her passport under North America. The first printable offered 2-3 flag printables. There is a class set of flag printables in the Printables section for larger homeschool families or co-op groups. The colored Haiti flag images can be seen in her passport or on the flag activity page below (bottom right corner). The flag printable page also included an informative paragraph about the Haitian flag.

Then, I assigned the Continent and Country Maps to my daughter. Each map contained geographical questions to ask Alyssa. These questions enabled her to take a closer look at the location and familiarize herself with bordering countries, bodies of water, capital cities, closeness to the equator, and more. For example, a few questions about the North America map were: What other country borders Haiti? What bodies of water do you see? Do you think Haiti tends to be warm or cold? Alyssa identified Haiti on the map and colored it orange. I always had her do both maps, but the maps are differentiated so that you could give the North America map to younger students and the Greater Antilles map to the older children. She colored the other islands and other half of Haiti green. Different questions were asked about the Greater Antilles map: Can you find Florida on this map (it was not labeled)? How many islands and countries are on the Greater Antilles map? Alyssa also needed to label and name all the major bodies of water.

The last section of this lesson was to Listen to the Music. The music section provided us with the country's national anthem known as La Dessalinienne. She watched and listened to the anthem in French which caught her off guard. The English translation of the French lyrics were provided for the first two verses. Other studies may offer a cultural song selection instead of the national anthem. Lyrics were also provided. She listened to the music which was frequently accompanied with You Tube videos for her to watch. I supervised her time on You Tube. Some music videos were sung in the official language or she watched children singing it. There were several assigned videos that she didn't like. She said it was hard to hear the words when the children sang together. Check out Alyssa's reaction when she first heard the children singing the national anthem. 

Day 2: Online and Literature Research & Notebooking Sheet

On the second day, Alyssa was required to login into the subscription website or to open the file to research information about the country, Haiti. She would usually login at the beginning of the week to download the file into iBooks on our iPad. Then, she would open the file later in the week. She visited the links as she read the material. She kept a scrap piece of paper nearby so that she could jot down information about the country. The notes were turned into a handwritten paragraph and the final draft was written on the open-ended notebooking sheet. I didn't really set any strict expectations for this page. I told her to write down interesting or fascinating facts she learned about the country after exploring the location. The Photo Album is a gallery of images seen during the exploratory phase. The scrapbook photos are included in the binder. These pictures include descriptive captions.
Research on iPad for Notebooking Sheet
Photo Album
Day 3: Coloring Page and Featured Craft
The third day was her favorite day. She read the short paragraph about the area before beginning the coloring pages and crafts. For example, the Haiti color sheet fact was that the primary cash crop for Haiti was coffee, but other crops Haitians grow for food include corn, rice, and sweet potatoes. She had fun coloring the Haitian farming scene. The coloring pages were related to the country and what you might see, hear, visit, or experience. The coloring pages were usually found under the Printables sections of the lesson or through an online link.
Haiti Coloring Page 

Then, she would gather materials for the country's featured craft. Next, she would work on the featured craft using the step-by-step instructions. A link to the original craft instructions was provided if available. Occasionally crafts would run over into the next day. The featured Haiti craft took her two days to complete, because she wanted the artwork to dry overnight instead of only giving it a few minutes to dry.

Alyssa colored a Haitian Market Art coloring page using bright colors as indicated in the directions. Then, she used black watered-down watercolor paint to cover the entire the image. The crayons resisted the watercolor paint and filled in the background. My daughter pasted it down on bright colored orange paper the next day. She wrote Haiti at the top of the page.
Haitian Market Day 

What We Liked and Didn't Like
  • Hands-On Featured Crafts
  • Detailed Coloring Pages
  • Differentiated Map Work with Leveled Questions
  • Clear Step-By-Step Directions
  • Captioned Photo Album Scrapbook Pages of the Country's Landmarks
  • Built-In Break and Review Weeks
  • Progress Tracking Checklists and Online 'Lesson Completed' Widget
  • Ability to Pick and Choose Activities based on my Child's Learning Preferences
  • You Don't Have To Do Everything
  • Same Organized Layout Each Week
Alyssa's favorite featured craft was the Sea Turtle Paperbag Puppet, because it was quick and easy. She thought the turtle was adorable. She also liked that she could create a skit. The Haitian Market Art craft was her second favorite craft. She enjoyed using her creativity and choosing complementary bright colors. The Hawaiian Lei was next on her favorite list. She created a flowered color pattern and wore this craft around the house all day.

Her least favorite activity was the Maine Lighthouse craft from the Northeast study. The craft didn't really capture her interest and she felt like it didn't look like a lighthouse. She was a little frustrated with the watercolor paint used on the Canada Maple Leaf craft. I suggest trying tempera paint with younger children. The watercolors will bleed and blend quickly if too watery.

The coloring pages helped her visualize the scenery of the location better. She really liked the coloring page for Canada, because it had a variety of animals from the area to color. She also liked the Nicaragua and Hawaiian coloring sheet, because she's been obsessed with sea turtles lately. Her least favorite coloring page was the lighthouse. If I had to guess it was because it didn't include any animals, but I liked how she added a textured rocky look to the shoreline.

My daughter said based on her Let's Explore research she would most likely want to visit Hawaii or Nicaragua, because she likes to swim in the ocean and wants to see the green sea turtles. Her least favorite study was the Northeast area, because it wasn't specific enough and covered too many areas in one week.

I HIGHLY recommend Let's Go Geography to homeschool families and co-ops. It can easily be implemented in a class room setting or utilized in the homeschool environment. It is an excellent geography curriculum for kids. The program was intended to be completed in sequential order, but it can be easily adapted so that you skip around to desired countries and choose only activities your child will enjoy. I believe this curriculum can be utilized as a complete core or supplemental Geography curriculum. Hands-on learners and children who prefer online learning may benefit from using this curriculum. If you have a child who loves studying faraway places around the world - I would definitely look into this curriculum. My daughter is already asking me if I'll purchase Year 2 and Year 3 in the future.

Overall Thoughts
Alyssa thoroughly enjoyed using this curriculum. She was engaged in the learning process and retained more information about the countries across the globe than I ever expected. I was impressed and pleased with the well-organized content. The curriculum was user-friendly too. We will definitely continue using Let's Go Geography this year at a pace of one country per week stretching the lesson out across 3-5 days. We appreciate that the curriculum can be accessed on either a computer or an iPad. We are eager to learn more about our world using Let's Go Geography!
Online and iPad Research
Showing me Nicaraguan Coffee on the iPad

Vendor Suggestions
  • I wish 1-3 recipes were included for each country.
  • I would love to see a hands-on 50 states study created in a similar format.
  • Add decorative or bordered photo journal pages. Students can glue a photo of the finished craft on the page. Then, they can label and write about it. Unfortunately, we can't keep the crafts forever. 
  • Offer more featured craft options for the Northeast region which covers several different locations.
  • Give subscribers easy access to one printable PDF downloadable file that contains all the lessons. If this file is too large, then it could include 4-5 separate files. I wish that I could quickly download everything and save the files in one sitting rather than having to visit the website each time I want to download and save. 
You can access Year 1 for $21.99. This price includes the FREE bonus travel journal printable covers and full access to all lessons for one 36-week school year. Visit the online store link above for other purchase plans. 

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

Social Media
Facebook Tag: @letsgogeography
Pinterest Tag: @letsgogeography

If you want to hear more about Let's Go Geography, then visit the Homeschool Review Crew Blog to read more reviews.
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Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Haitian Market Art

Let's Go Geography is our homeschool geography curriculum this year. We are working through Year 1 Semester 1 Lessons. This curriculum was developed by Carol Henderson. It is suitable for children in K-4th grade.

My daughter (Age 9) is having a blast learning about many different countries around the world. She is currently in 4th grade and says it is her favorite curriculum right now. She looks forward to the lessons.

We recently studied Haiti. Alyssa loved the featured craft. Check out the final project and directions below. You could do this with any image.

1.) Print the image using the link provided in the curriculum.
2.) Color the image with crayons making sure to press down hard.
3.) Trim around the edge of the coloring page.
4.) Paint over the image using watered-down BLACK watercolor paint.
5.) Dry overnight.
6.) Glue to a brightly colored sheet of paper.
7.) Write "Haiti" at the top of the page.
8.) Done! :)
Coloring Page
Water Color Paint
Drying Phase
Haiti Artwork

I will link this post up at the Virtual Refrigerator.

Homeschool Review Crew: Carole P. Roman Books

Carole P Roman Blog

My goal has always been to provide my daughter with a literature rich environment with overflowing shelves containing high-quality books to read. We were recently blessed with the opportunity to review four books written by Carole P. Roman. We chose to review physical copies of If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Ancient Greece and If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Middle Ages, because of my daughter's interest in both of the historical time periods. The author also graciously sent us two additional mystery books to review. We received a third book from the Historical series titled, If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Ancient Mali EmpireOh Susannah: It's in the Bag was also sent as part of our package. I already own several of Roman's books and couldn't wait to add more of her book titles to our collection especially books from the Historical series.   

All About the Author
Carole P. Roman is an award-winning children's book author. She has written numerous non-fiction and fictional books for all ages. She is well-known for her five popular children's book series:
  • Oh Susannah Series: Early Chapter Reader Books
  • Bedtime Stories
  • Captain No Beard Series
  • If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Cultural Series
  • If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Historical Series
Carole P Roman

The first three books are from the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Historical Series intended for children ages 8-15. They are extremely informative and chocked full of fascinating facts. They follow a similar format. The books are told in narrative story format where the child can imagine herself or himself as the main character. He or she can experience the historical time period from the child's point of view. The book is told from the child's perspective making the character seem more relatable. The main character's life becomes reality for the reader as they imagine themselves traveling back in time adventuring through the location and historical era. Each book can be used as an introduction to a historical time period or ancient civilization.

The books from the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Historical series all end with a section about Famous People relevant to the historical era and a Glossary of Vocabulary Terms. There are approximately 5-14 pages in each glossary section. The glossary consists of a list of meaningful and important words related to the text and time period. These words were helpful in understanding the meaning of words within the context of the story and definitely helped us understand the time period better. You can easily extend each study by asking your child to research a particular historical figure. Then, they can complete a notebooking page or biographical report at the culmination of the book or era study. You could also require the child to verbally narrate several pages of the book at a time to check for understanding.
Gods & Goddesses of Ancient Greece
Glossary of Terms

read three of these books with my daughter, Alyssa (Age 9) for educational and entertainment purposes. She is an avid, advanced reader who works at a 4th-6th grade level. We used the books as supplements to her summer History curriculum. The books reinforced and enhanced her learning. We're revisiting the Middle Ages and she REALLY wanted to learn more about Ancient Greece. 

Alyssa asked me to read to her more often. I read once during the afternoon and then again in the evening for about 15-35 minutes each session. We read about 5-20 pages at a time so that she could retain smaller chunks of information better over several sessions. 

Her STRONG interest in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greece historical time periods was evident as she read through the books. Her eagerness to continue reading and excitement about the story was contagious. She's been intrigued with History lately which is not my favorite subject to teach. Therefore, I want to capture and maintain that curiosity for as long as I possibly can with engaging literature which is one of the reasons why we were thrilled to review the following two books from Roman's If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Historical series   

Let me tell you about our experience with the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Middle Ages book. The 97-page book contains whimsical colorful illustrations that dance across every other page. It discusses the Medieval Times or Middle Ages which began in the late 400's until the Renaissance time period in the early 1400's. 

The story is told from from Aalis's perspective. My daughter, Alyssa, imagined herself as the main character. Aalis is the daughter of Theobald de Rouen who is a knight or soldier in William of Normandy's army living in Rouen near France. He was given land and his status was raised when he helped William invade England. This meant that he was treated more like a noble with privileged status. 

During this time after the Roman Empire fell apart, there was a division of the empire into smaller kingdoms or feudal holdings. This was known as Feudalism. The social class structure was further divided as well. The book also discussed occupations, children's names, family life, housing, diet, customs and traditions, clothing, daily routines, religion and the church, responsibilities, currency, entertainment, medicines, and so much more. 

The book's descriptive language allowed us to visualize the rooms of the family motte and bailey castle. Alyssa felt bad that the servants slept on the floor in the great hall on piles of uncomfortable straw while "her" parents slept in the solar room on a bed with at least three mattresses. She wished that her parents would have been nice enough to share their soft mattresses with the servants.

The author gave clear explanations of the clothing worn for both females and males. My daughter noticed that the little girl was wearing a chaplet or wreath of flowers. She remembered making a similar one last year during her Medieval study. 

She disliked the fact that girls had to marry at a super young age. In the story, Aalis was 13 and a marriage was around the corner. She couldn't understand why the parents would want their child to get married at such a young age. She also disapproved of the fact that girls could not go to school unless they went to a convent school with nuns. She said she would hate it if someone told her she couldn't go to school to learn. Thankfully the step-mother in the book taught Aalis how to read.   

Needless to say, we also had an interesting conversation after she looked up the word garderobe in the Glossary. She realized the meaning of the word and the purpose of this stone-seated garderobe which emptied directly into the moat. YUCK!  

Seating arrangements at the table were based on your importance to the household or your status. If Alyssa lived during this time as the main character, then she would sit near the salt or "white gold" on a raised platform by her parents indicating she was an important person. She would eat pike and carp on fasting days as commanded by the church on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. She thought that it was odd that only weak women and children ate breakfast when today breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Other days she ate many types of meat and poultry. She also couldn't believe that dinner and supper were both served on a trencher (large piece of bread) which was later given to the poor as food. She had no desire to eat after someone else! She found out that peasants often ate only one meal a day called pottage which was a mixture of grain, water, and occasionally vegetables if they were available. Alyssa made a comment about how she wouldn't be able to drink mead in our society today, because it was brewed ale mixed with honey from the castle's beehives. 

I learned so many new factoids with my daughter. Alyssa and I learned about a technique doctors used to treat illnesses called blood-letting. A person's forearm was cut and bad blood was allowed to drain from their body in order to rebalance the four main humors. Apparently these fluid humors affected a person's personality and behavior. Payment for services were given in the form of minted coins. She said the their beliefs about sickness didn't make any sense. Furthermore, Alyssa was thankful that she didn't live during this era and that she would prefer the help of Old Edith, the midwife herbalist over blood-letting. 

A detailed description of the five basic social classes of people was included in the book. Alyssa learned about the king and his family, the nobles and landowners, knights or soldiers, the clergy, and about the unfair lifestyle of the peasants. An interesting fact Alyssa learned was that one sibling from many wealthy families would be sent to join the church as a priest or nun. Religion had an huge impact on your life in the Middle Ages. You were encouraged to pray five times a day and to attend church on Sunday where mass was given in the Latin language even if you didn't understand it.    

While reading this book, we took a field trip to Medieval Times to experience the tournament activity described in the book and to hear a knight explain the hawking process. The knight discussed the use of his falcon for hunting smaller animals just like Aalis's father did in the book. During the Middle Ages this event lasted four days. We only participated in the event one evening. Knights tested their courage and skill with archery, jousting, and sword fights at these tournaments. We saw many costumed knights jousting and participating in sword fights which amazed my daughter. She made several connections and heard many vocabulary terms that evening which were mentioned in this book. The gentleman that served our delicious meal was a squire who was later seen in the arena taking care of the armor, equipment, and horses as stated in the book. Alyssa saw the suit of armor worn by knights as they held their long lances. The book correlations were astounding! I wish I could tell you more about this book, but I really want you to read it yourself. We were impressed with the depth of the material covered.     

A few of the famous people mentioned from the Middle Ages at the back of the book were William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Joan of Arc, Clovis, and Bede. Children could easily research the importance of these individuals and create a timeline showing their relevance or place in History. 

My daughter summarized what she learned using a 3-2-1 Exit Card after reading this book independently and with me. A 3-2-1 exit card usually offers the child the chance to write 3 things learned, 2 interesting facts, and 1 pondering question.

Books by Carole P Roman

Alyssa's second favorite book in our package was the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Ancient Greece book. The short 54-page book begins with a comparison of Greece today and what it looked like in 350 B.C. The book discusses the location of Greece in southeastern Europe giving history about how it was the first advanced civilization with one of the oldest cities known as Athens. A simple map is included later in the book depicting several city-states in the area. Vivid pastel colors were utilized in the gorgeous illustrations. 

I love that the book shares possible names of the children living during the historical time period. For example, "Your name could be Alexandros or Linus if you were a boy. They might name your sister Melitta or Theodora." The wording also helps the reader imagine themselves as the character. Alyssa didn't recognize any of the names and said that they weren't popular names in our society today. 

Furthermore, the book explains the Greek's political system called demokratia or ruled by people which is the foundation of our governmental system today. One book feature I greatly appreciated was that it offered pronunciation helps or guides in parentheses which makes reading more difficult words easier. 

Information about Greek gods and goddesses including but not limited to Zeus Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Athena, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Hestia, and Ares are scattered throughout the pages and weaved into the story when appropriate. They can easily be spotted, because the font is italicized. These gods and goddesses can be researched further at the back of the book too. For example, information about the Greek god of war known as Ares was mentioned when the author discussed the use of slavery and battles against foreign invaders. Greek households had up to 3 slaves or prisoners of war. They worked on farms, mines, and in trade. Slaves were an important part of the economy in Greece. 

Did you know that they honored the Greek goddess of the home, Hestia, by NOT allowing coals in fire pits or hearths at home or in the open fireplace for all citizens in the city to be extinguished. This always kept the house warm and gave them a place to cook. 

My daughter said she wanted to live during the Ancient Greece time period, because their diet sounded delicious. She would be fed four meals a day which would consist of bread, cheese, olives, figs, grapes, lentils, fish, and barley. She would never be hungry. She was surprised that children could drink watered-down wine at meals. You could not drink plain water because of diseases so everyone mixed wine with it to kill the harboring germs. She also made a comment about how rude it was for the wealthy fathers to eat formal meals separately from the mother. She couldn't help but think, "Did he think he was better than everyone else?" He sat comfortably on a fancy cushion eating with one hand as if he were the king.   

Speaking of citizenship, we found out that girls were NOT considered citizens and that their responsibility was to stay at home and learn how to run a household. Now that doesn't seem fair - does it? Boys would be taught at home until age 6 where they continued their studies in science, math, music, and debate at school.

I couldn't possibly share all of the wonderful detail-oriented facts found in this book with you today so let me sum it up. We also learned about their language, religion, housing, grooming routines, trade and the economy, transportation, Olympics and other forms of entertainment, family member roles and responsibilities, and foods eaten. The book also discusses the clothing worn such as chiton, peplos, and togas. 

I gave my daughter a map work assignment related to the topic. I printed a map of Europe online using a paid subscription website so that Alyssa could identify and color in the location of Greece. We discussed how places around the world change over time.
Books by Carole P Roman
Locate Greece

My daughter read the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Ancient Mali Empire independently during a long road trip. Alyssa read aloud sections of interest to me while I drove. She shared her thoughts about several parts of the story. I later skimmed through the contents for the purpose of this review.

The book follows the same format as the other two books in the If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Historical series. The book describes religion, types of homes, clans and government, societal castes, economic trade, education, family, professions, customs and traditions, clothing worn, foods served at mealtime, forms of entertainment, and more.       

This softcover 77-page picture book is jam-packed with history from the very beginning. It stated that the Mali Empire was known as the Mandingo Empire from around 1230 to the early 1600's. It was an empire of power and trade. 

The story was told from the perspective of a girl from a wealthy family living in the capital of Niani. Her father was a general in the army who directly served Mansa Musa and was head of his clan. Mansa Musa was another name for king or emperor. A large section of the book was dedicated to the history of the Mandinka people as told by her grandfather, the griot, who captured the attention of crowds. History was told by a storyteller with a good memory. This was relevant, because there was NO written language at the time.    

We discussed the fact that Islam and Muslim were the two main religions practiced during the historical era even though the ruler encouraged all religions. Palaces were being converted to mosques where Islamic people could pray. Do you know why mosques were topped with ostrich eggs? They were believed to bring good fortune and fertility.   

My daughter was shocked by several customs during the time period. She learned that girls would have arranged marriages and be ready to have children around the age of 12-13. She wants the ability to choose her own husband. She also believed they were way to young to have children and get married. She thought it was interesting that a boy wanting her hand in marriage would bring three kola nuts to her father to ask for permission. They were given as a sign of respect or as a gift. The glossary and book define a kola nut as a nut from a small evergreen tree in Africa. It is a bitter fruit with pale flesh that gives people energy and makes them alert. The father and possible son in law would argue about the number of nuts he would give for her hand in marriage. A decision of ten was the agreed amount even though a basket was brought to the wedding. She said the custom reminded her of our custom when a man asks a father's blessing for his daughter's hand in marriage. 

Girls stayed home with their mothers to learn how to be good wives and mothers. Alyssa wanted girls to also have the same opportunity as boys to go to school or learn a trade. She believed that women could still be good wives and mothers and still go to school. She loved the fact that Mansa Musa offered a free education to students in the Ancient Mali Empire.

Alyssa giggled when she saw a picture of a young toddler playing outside naked. No inappropriate images were included in the book. She just thought that it was strange that he was allowed to go outside without clothes on in front of all the people. As she gets older, she'll learn about other cultures where this could be the norm.  

She learned about foods eaten in Mali such as rice, millet porridge, millet pancakes, bouille, grilled captaine and tinani fish, goat, lamb, chicken, and baobab tree fruit. Rice symbolized wealth. Poor people ate only millet, but the main character always had rice available. 

Alyssa was surprised that salt was the main good traded in the marketplace where haggling took place, because no minted coins were produced. Salt was of great importance to the people of southern Mali where the desert heat pounded down on you. Salt replenished minerals lost after sweating. Alyssa encouraged me to haggle at the grocery store in hopes for lower prices.        

Several famous people in the Mali Empire were listed at the back of the book including Kongo, Inari Kunate, Sologon, Muhammad Ibn Battuta, Sankar-Zouma, and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Al-Sahili (try saying that five times). The pronunciation guide was most helpful when trying to pronounce important names as seen above. 

This book was Alyssa's least favorite book from our package. She said it wasn't as interesting as the others in the series and she didn't like the illustrations as much. The use of the color yellow dominated the book. The historical narrative was very different from anything she's ever read before which is why I think it was her least favorite book. She was unfamiliar with the content which led to confusion. One reason why I was actually thankful we received this book was because we learned new information about a culture and empire we've never studied. This makes my daughter more aware of cultural differences in the world.

The Ancient Mali book would be best as a read aloud for younger children rather than an independently read book. I will most likely read the book to my daughter in hopes that her experience will be more positive.
Books by Carole P Roman

Carole P. Roman sent us a chapter reader book titled, Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag. It is a short 34-page early reader chapter book. It contains nine easy-to-read chapters. Each chapter contains approximately 2-10 pages. The last chapter is the longest one in the book. The book has a high glossy cover. There aren't any large illustrations in this book. Each chapter contains small black and white images or thumbnails at the top of the page near the chapter title. My daughter and I both wish the book included more pictures. Check out the fonts, font size, and the varying sentence lengths to determine whether or not this book would be appropriate for your child. The wording may be somewhat complex for early readers in 1st-2nd grade.

I read this book to my daughter at bedtime. We snuggled on her bed to read it together each night. She can easily read this book independently, but I wanted to spend some quality time reading a short chapter book aloud for entertainment purposes at the end of the day.

This is one of two books from Carole P. Roman's most recent series which is intended for children between the ages of 7-12. The story is about a third grader named Susannah Maya Logan. The daily events of her horribly bad day are gradually unveiled. My daughter didn't at first realize that all of the circumstances occurred in the course of ONE day in Susannah's life beginning with that dreadful unfinished Math homework. The story continues with her adding an uneaten banana to her bag which eventually rots over time followed by an unwanted sleepover invitation she'd rather ignore. Then the poor girl stuffs her Math test with a failing grade printed in red into the backpack with two dog themed library books. The bag eventually is over packed with her "worries" that it rips the zipper. When she gets home, she hides her bag under her bed before a disastrous dinner. This all leads up to Alyssa's favorite part of the charming story when her bag explodes at bedtime and splatters banana all over her schoolwork.  

It encourages children to ask for help when needed otherwise problems will just pile up and become a huge overwhelming mess. The book discusses what happens when you hide problems and "stuff" them away rather than directly dealing with them. It encourages children to utilize coping strategies to deal with their problems and worries. Susannah's parents help her sort out the issues in a constructive, positive way including deep breaths and communication. Mom explains to Susannah what she does when she is overwhelmed with unfinished tasks and it has nothing to do with her motherly superpowers which Susannah believed her mother possessed. Her mom says, "No. I sit back and take a big breath. I stack it all in the middle of my desk and put everything in order of most importance." This is wise advise for anyone being slammed with never-ending tasks. 

Alyssa said that this was her absolute favorite book which surprised me, because she is usually a huge non-fiction fan. It was also written from the perspective of a student who attends a public school so I thought she might not relate. However, my daughter saw the bigger picture and was able to grasp the message of the delightful story. 

We both agree that this book would be best for younger children in the age range. It could be read with struggling readers to build their confidence beginning with a simple chapter book or read aloud to children for fun.

At the end of the story, she said she wondered if Susannah ever went to Lola's sleepover. She felt like the author should finish the story in another book. 
Books by Carole P Roman

My daughter wants to purchase the other book in the series titled, Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump for her upcoming birthday. While visiting the author's website, she looked at the cover of the next book in this series and made a prediction. She thinks that the next book will describe Susannah's experience at Lola's creepy haunted house during the sleepover. 
Books by Carole P Roman

Yes, I HIGHLY recommend all of these books to any homeschool family, educators, and librarians. Individuals that implement an Eclectic, Unit Study, Thematic, Literature-Based, or Charlotte Mason teaching approach will appreciate these resources. 

I will definitely drop off a list of suggested book titles to our local librarian in hopes that she'll purchase several of these book sets for our community. Alyssa was fascinated by the content and it sparked an eagerness to learn more. 

Overall Thoughts
I wanted Alyssa to dig deeper into the historical time periods and see things from a different point of view. Using these books, she experienced a unique point of view based on the book character's adventures. I believe the conversational tone of these books helped maintain her attention and lured her into the story. As she read, these picture books brought History to life. She learned important facts and terminology related to the historical era. She expanded her vocabulary by looking up and discussing unfamiliar words in the glossary. I was impressed with content and in-depth look into the time periods. It was evident that the author did extensive research when writing the non-fiction books. The illustrations created by the talented, Mateya Arkova, were beautiful and chosen to aid contextual understanding. I wish we could own the entire Historical series!     

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • Add Recipes Specific to the Culture, Location, and Historical Time Period
  • Create Literature Guides with Hands-On Activities
  • More Pictures in the Oh Susannah Series for the Younger Readers
  • Vocabulary Words in Bold Print or Different Font Rather Than Italicized
Amazon Prices
Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag $8.99

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Ancient Mali Empire $16.99

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . the Middle Ages $16.99

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Ancient Greece $16.99

Note: All prices are subject to change on Amazon at any time. 

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Many of Carole P. Roman's books were reviewed by my colleagues. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Blog to read about their experiences with many different book titles from each series. You'll definitely want to check out the reviews!
Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}
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