Review: Grant – Savior of the Union

Grant: Savior of the UnionObviously, I knew that Ulysses S. Grant brought the end to the Civil War, but Savior of the Union? As I’ve mentioned before, history was not my forte in school (maybe because no one made it interesting, hmmm …)

Grant brought to life by Mitchell Yockelson

The author, Mitchell Yockelson, did an excellent job in making the reader care about the man and not just his role in the Civil War. Throughout his life Ulysses Grant, General Grant and President Grant retained the same core – he did what he believed it was his duty to do and moved from there.

As Mr. Yockelson states, “Grant fought because he believed it was his duty to do so. He did not fight to seek fame and glory. That came because he finally found something he was good at and believed in. By gaining confidence in himself, others believed in him, and thus he became the Savior of the Union.”

Grant the Man

He was a man of character, well respected by his peers in Westpoint, not for his military prowess, but for his fairness of mind and the desire to be just in his doings. He was a thinker. He was a loving father, deeply in love with his wife and deadly serious about fulfilling his commission to President Lincoln. He also loved horses. His methods weren’t always pretty, but he displayed persistence and got the job done.

For all of his ability on the field of battle, Grant’s human frailties were handled well in the narrative. His rocky relationship with his father, his mathematical prowess (which is ironic considering his sorely lacking money management skills) and his overall popularity with his peers.  His life is full of ironies — the man that Mary Lincoln once called “that butcher” actually detested killing animals and went out of his way, as a youth, to avoid having anything to do with his father’s tanning business.

My Take on Grant

General Grant was a very complex man who worked very hard to achieve his goals. These are traits that I feel are important for my children to understand since this persistence will be necessary as they embark on their own lives in a few years.

The author did a wonderful job bringing him to life, not as an icon, but as a a real person that I’d like to invite inside,  sit down and listen to his stories.  The book is very easy to digest and I think it’s a good book to read together as a family. This is one of my favorite biographies.


Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Presidential Penmanship: Reminders for the Future

Presidential Penmanship - Italic Style Complete ProgramPresidential Penmanship is an excellent way to combine civics, history and beautiful handwriting all in one package. This program allows children from first grade all the way to 12th to improve their handwriting and gain knowledge of the founding principles of the United States, as well as character qualities that we all should aspire to attain.

My daughters used the first grade level so that they can grow accustomed to the Italic style, which is lovely by the way. The first two  grade levels contains 36 quotes each that were important to the founding of America as well as character traits such as industriousness and honesty. There were many quotes from George Washington which thrilled my eldest girl who is a George Washington fan.

The work is divided into small segments which allows the student to concentrate on their letter formation and not on “how long is this going to take?” Most of the quotes in the first and second grade are one short sentence, but as the grade level increases so does the work.

For example on the senior high school level, they start off with short quotes that develop into full paragraphs as they copy sections of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s First and Second Inaugural Addresses as well as the Gettysburg address.

By the time a family completes the full handwriting course the children will have a very good understanding of how the United States was formed and a look into the thoughts of its founding fathers.  I love programs that are multi-purpose like this one. I think it’s important for children not to just be engaged in busy work, but to start drawing parallels and making connections so that they can have a deeper understanding of the world that they live in. This is one of the programs that helps bring the past and present together in a beautiful way.

Khalid Family Rating: 5 out of 5



The Amazing Bible Timeline: Hanging Out in Historical Circles

The Amazing Bible Timeline is a wonderful resource for families who want their children to get a real overview of the history, both biblical and secular.  One thing I always hated about “social studies” is that it never talked about any real history.  All that mattered was that the Europeans married each other, discovered the “New World” and we broke away and became the United States. But what was going on in the rest of the world?

Well, this map let’s you know. And what’s really great about it is that it begins the journey through history with the creation of Adam. Reading the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures) can get very confusing very quickly if you don’t have some reference points handy.  This colorful chart allows you to trace our origins up until the present day. It not only makes the Bible’s timeline more interesting and memorable, but helps you to see what was going on around it.

One thing that I was really impressed by was discovering that King Solomon, Homer and Chinese “Period of Vigorous Thinking” were all occurring around the same time! I like the fact that all major historical cultures are included. I read a book once that stated that the reason that children don’t like history is because it’s taught in a vacuum. Well this map certainly makes that vacuum a thing of the past.

When we received our package from the post office  we were all so surprised by the size.  I knew that it was a large map, but not THAT large.  So my first major challenge was to find a place to put it.  I have an open floor plan, so wall space is a premium at our house. We finally settled upon the upstairs hallway wall. So you can’t get anywhere without catching a glimpse of it.  The map is printed on heavy-weight paper that should stand up well in any household that doesn’t have toddlers running around.  I put mine on the wall because my son has developed a very strong relationship with his safety scissors, so I thought it was prudent to put it out of reach :-).

In addition to the physical map that you can place on your walls, or roll away and take out for your history/bible lessons, you are also provided with interactive maps of the Holy Land.  This interactive map lets you teach your family where the ancient cities reside in relation to our modern world.  And a really cool feature of these maps is that you get to see how boundaries change over time since you get to see the world from a variety of perspectives (Abraham, Moses, David, Babylon, Christ and today). I mean, how cool is that?

Another feature that comes with the wall map is a digital version of the Amazing Bible Timeline that’s designed for research and lesson planning. It can also be used for slide shows and PowerPoint discussions in church groups as well.  There was one free download that I really appreciated and shared with the Children’s Ministry and that was the Genealogy of Jesus Christ.  It’s a large tree and each of the branches has a member of his genealogical line. That one’s hanging on a lower spot of my wall since I can reprint it even if the little one gets to it. And you receive all of these things for only $29.97, which is a really great deal.

My children enjoy tracing the timelines and comparing when people lived and what was going on in the world.  It’s been invaluable to us both in bible study as well as secular history. The only downside, if you have a house like mine, is finding a good place to display the timetable.  But aside from that logistical problem, this is a definite 5 Star product that I recommend not only for the family but for church groups as well.


A Journey Through Learning

Lapbooking is a fun way to teach and teach and reinforce every subject. It’s also something that all members of the family can do regardless of age. Basically a lapbook is a collection of minibooks and/or facts about a subject. These minibooks are placed inside of ordinary file folders that refolded to create a master book that fits in your lap.

A Journey Through Learning makes lapbooking super easy for a beginner like me to get started. I have been familiar with lapbooks for awhile, but this is my first time actually assembling one. Doing the lapbook project on “Autumn” has been a real eye-opener for me in more ways than one:

  1. Lapbooking is not complicated. I think this was one of the biggest points for me. I shied away from the activity because I couldn’t imagine how to choose what to include in a lapbook or how to put it together.
  2. Children learn and remember facts easily. Since there is a three year gap between my ladies so I wasn’t sure if Alaya would get as much out of it as Jade does. The minibooks break each subject down so well that there are few questions from either child.
  3. The organizational benefits. Jade had to deal with an immature auditory system and went to speech for a number of years. I mistakenly thought that once speech was over that was the end of her difficulties. But doing lapbooking has shown me that another quirk of her speech issue has manifested in her organizational skills. While her little sister had no problem organizing her book, Jade was all over the place. So I’m now incorporating lapbooking in every subject possible because she needs to strengthen those skills.

A Journey Through Learning really makes it easy for parents to teach and reinforce lessons in one step. Most of their lapbooks come with unit study guides. This means that there is a lesson before each crafting activity. So, you read the facts and/or story about the subject and then do the crafts. I’ve found that this has helped the children to remember the facts a lot better than through the traditional “read and regurgitate” method.

In addition to the minibooks being created, the A Journey Through Learning has a variety of fun activities as well.  For example, one of the activities in the Autumn lapbook was to pretend that we were birds and using a scavenger list we had to find the materials for making a bird’s nest.  This led to many discussions, lots of memorable fun.

Their catalog contains lapbooks on all kinds of topics including science, history, biblical, literature and also preschool topics.  If you’re lucky enough to live in Louisiana you can even take a lapbooking class with the owners. Their lapbook prices are very reasonable, especially when you consider that you can reprint whatever you need for all of the children in your family. The ebooks are $13, the CD version is $14 and the printed version is $21 per book.

Each book is chock full of stories, templates, charts, minibooks and activities. Many of the books are over 50 pages of information. And the activities are appropriate for a range of ages starting at the preschool level to the seventh grade.  I’m finding this to be one of the greatest appeal of their products because I can work with everyone at the same time. Since I also do work at home, the more subjects that I can combine without compromising either child’s level is really important.

But don’t take my word for it.  You need to head on over to A Journey Through Learning and get your free lapbook to try out. Once you signup for their free newsletter you’ll receive “An Overview of the 17th Century.” I think that once you experience the ease and fun of working with their products you’ll be hooked too!


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