Golden Grasses

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pledge of Allegiance

Proud to be an America. Thank-you Red Skeleton, for the beautiful and patriotic history lesson.

 @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, July 1, 2014

Experience "History Through Music- Review

 Diana Waring has been a leader in the homeschooling community for many years, producing history curriculum, encouraging homeschoolers to think outside the box and learn courageously alongside their kids, laughing out loud and singing!
I'm thrilled to introduce you to a set of music we had years and years ago, but through multiple cross country moves and a house fire, has been lost. Thankfully,  Diana Waring re-produced the wonderful Experience History Through Music! Series and we have them in our house, once more, only this time by a different name, and on CD!
There are 3 titles in this series
America 1750-1890: The Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
It's common knowledge that if you want to really understand a culture, you consider the artwork of the time. That is exactly what  Diana Waring has done in Experience History Through Music! Series!
Each book/CD in the series is similar. There is a glossy covered book, complete with stories about the songs, tons of photographs and wonderful artwork, the sheet music and a professional recording of every song in the book! This is learning history at it's best- hands on and out-loud!
My Dad was a musician, and started out in college as a piano major. We all started to play the piano at age 5 under his tutelage, and singing was de riguer in our home. We sang in the car, for our grandparents and always at Great Aunt Dolly's, who always listened with such rapt attention, you would have thought we were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir come to call. My dad taught us parts, utilizing so many of the simple, fun and heart felt songs found in these books. Memories, baby, of long, hot car rides with no air conditioning, and my Dad's demanding perfection, with the wind blowing our words and the heat away.

We sang, "The Old Chariot" and "My Sweet Sabbath Home" at my Grandparents little Plimoth Brethren Church, the faithful gathered every Sunday to declare in song their belief and faith. Windows open, deep in Hoosier country, so that anyone driving by (in car or buggy- this was Amish country, y'all) could hear the sweet sounds of the souls gathered within. Listening to the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder choked me up more than once. These songs brought back memories of my childhood and the songs that saturated it, sung with dear ones, many of whom have gone ahead.  It's amazing how much emotion a song can invoke- a time, a place, a season.

And that, my friends, is exactly the point of this 3 book/CD series. To capture times past. To give our children a taste of eras that demanded courage, strong will, hard work and a killer sense of humor. It's all in here. Songs to inspire, cause one to dig deeper -gooey duck, seriously?, laugh, cry and think deeply about what it took to carve a country out of wilderness.

Musical Memories; if you are old enough, these CD's will bring them back. And they will hearken to a simpler time when the simple act of song drew folks together, established community and brought joy to those who listened, regardless of the amateur quality of the singer. Theses are songs that tell of the rich history of this country, of families that valued hard work, faith and family.

Each book features 13-16 songs. This would be a fantastic unit study, a terrific way to incorporate music into your homeschool or in addition to studies you are already doing. We are continuing to read through Notgrass American History and will be doing Classical Conversations, Cycle 3 (American History) in the fall. This fits right in to both. My kids are not only reading about how this country was formed, memorizing history sentences, but singing about it all, too!
The books are every bit as much a visual feast as the songs are a treat for the ears. Each song  has commands 2 pages in the book, full of informative text and one or more photographs or pieces of  artwork. Fantastic! 

Experience History Through Music These book/CD sets are available for $18.99 each BUT for the month of July, you can get all 3 books, with CDs, for $50!
Experience History Through Music These book/CD sets are available for $18.99 each BUT for the month of July, you can get all 3 books, with CDs, for $50!

And don't forget about the HUGE $700 Give-away  going on NOW in conjunction with this launch. There is still time to enter to win! 

You can stay connected with Diana Waring and all her products through these social media outlets:
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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!

Adoption Fund Raiser- Please Help Bring Dominic HOME!

My dear friends, Megan and Steve have a beautiful, faith-based, loving family, built through the gift of adoption. My own Mom and Uncle were adopted and I know first hand the power and long lasting love that occurs when a family is brought together in such a unique way. Please read Megan and Steve's story and prayerfully consider how you might be a part of bringing one more orphan HOME. 

We are Megan and Steve, an adoptive family with 3, almost 4, kiddos.  Our current adoption actually starts with our last adoption. In 2009 we were blessed to travel to Thailand to bring our then 8 year old son, Gabriel, home. 
Gabe had a best friend in the orphanage and the boys both had families in the USA waiting for them. Our agency had put us in contact and we looked forward to keeping the boys connected after they came home. The boys were both told in spring of 2008, they were being adopted!  As can happen though, the best friend's adoption fell through.

We had a difficult time processing this information and the knowledge that this sweet boy we had met, spent time playing with, taken pictures of, and that played a huge part of our son's first 8 years of life, would not have a forever family. Never know the unconditional love of parents and siblings. Many prayers were offered and tears shed.

Then November of 2011 we received a call letting us know the best friend's paperwork had just shown up and he was available for adoption. They remembered our distress over his situation and our desire to be kept abreast of any news regarding him. So before they started advocating for him to find a family, would we be interested in adopting him. WOW!

Another adoption was not on our radar.  We are a home school family with one income. Don't misunderstand us, we would adopt more if the financial cost wasn't so great. But there were many reasons to not proceed with his adoption. 

But God called.

We answered. Best friends WILL become brothers!!

All along the way we have stepped out in faith He would provide. And He has. We had a rummage sale last fall that provided the funds for a bill with just weeks left to pay it before an increase in the fees.

Now we prayerfully need to ask others to continue to join us on this journey. We are in the final stages and will be receiving the call we have waited over 2 1/2 years to receive. The invitation to travel. However, along with that call comes the final bills and travel costs.  The stress of where the money is going to come from takes some joy out of the anticipation.  Our son also turns 13 in August and we don't want to make him wait any longer just because of money reasons. 

Here are the ways you can help us......

1)  Pray, pray, and pray some more. For us to be fully funded. For our children's hearts to be ready for the challenges we face in travel and the adjustments. For our new son's safety in Thailand as he waits for us and his heart as he prepares for huge changes to the world as he knows it. For us as parents that we may trust in God's provisions and seek His wisdom in all our plans.

2)  By sharing our story. Please feel free to pass along our story, our needs.

3)  By making a donation to help us meet our goal to fully fund the rest of our adoption.  We need to raise a minimum of another $15,000, a huge number.  Yet we know nothing is too big for our God.  He can multiply a few fish and loaves of bread to feed hundreds. He can take donations of any amount and multiply it. 

We would be so grateful if you took this journey with us!       

@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!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Roman Road Media- The Greeks- Review

I have the wonderful privilege of introducing you to the best curriculum finds of the year-
Video Curriculum/ Classical Education/ Christian Perspective

 Roman Roads Media is a company recently created by brothers Daniel and David Foucachon, classically educated homeschool graduates who have the desire to bring quality classical education home. They have re-released some old favorites (see my review of the recently updated Grammar of Poetry here) and have been busy producing curriculum what will, undoubtedly, be our, and your, new favorites.

My kids and I had the recent pleasure of reviewing Old Western Culture Year One: The Greeks. This was, hands down, our favorite curriculum of the year, in a year of stellar curriculum.
The Greeks - Old Western Culture

Unit : The Epics- The Poems of Homer
Unit 2: Drama and Lyric- The Tragedies, Comedies and Minor Poems
Unit 3: The Histories: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon
Unit 4: The Philosophers- Aristotle and Plato

We received all four DVD's for Year 1 and the accompanying workbooks and answer keys. Each DVD contains 12 lectures, totaling 4-6 hours of teaching time each with additional assigned reading, and Study Guide assignments and recommendations, including a Term Paper, down loadable exams and additional resources available on-line. The DVD's are professional quality. The study guides are comb bound with glossy covers. The web-site is user friendly and easy to navigate. 

The recommended age range is high school and the material covers 2 full high school credits: both Literature and Social Studies. In addition, there are over 100 works of art noted in each unit, which could be easily worked into 1/4 or 1/2 credit of Humanities or Art History. 

My kids were both younger than the recommended age range when they watched these- (5th and 8th graders, respectively). They, however, LOVED the material and couldn't get enough of it. They did read some of the literature, but not all, as some of the content is quite mature. They have been exposed to quite a bit of the literature and history in these lessons so had some basic familiarity. They were fascinated by the maps, often paused the DVD's to discuss new information and were occasionally appalled by the art. That being said, some mornings they would wake up and beg to watch these DVD's while eating breakfast. Wes Callihan is a master story teller and if you think Ancient History is dry and boring, then you haven't heard him teach it yet!

What's to love about this course and these products? Everything!
Quality video production.
World class teaching by classical educator Wesley Callihan of Schola Classical Tutorials and Hill Abbey
Demanding, challenging, mesmerizing content that will leave your student, no matter how steeped in history and classical studies, begging for more.

If you are not familiar with Wes Callihan, take a minute and watch the video above. He knows this stuff, forward and backward, makes fantastic connections, explains in a way that is simple, but never simplistic, makes difficult books and concepts accessible and is a world class story-teller. Seriously, my kids loved listening to Mr. Callihan and I actually had to put time limits on how long they could watch a DVD at a time. If it had been up to them, they would have watched the entire program in one long marathon session! This is not just for those who are interested in classical education. This is for anyone interested in great history, literature or why we are who we are today.
Old Western Culture | 4 year overview

The Greeks are Year 1 in a Four Year program which will include

If you are not sure if Old Western Culture is for year, take it for a test drive here. Preview full lessons, the workbooks, exams and much more.
There are many ways to purchase this course: as individual DVD's, with on-line streaming, or as a packaged set. The set that we reviewed includes all 4 DVD's and student guides for $224, however there are web-specials. 

In addition, Roman Roads Media is producing quality curriculum in the areas of Logic, Latin, Economics, American History, Music and More. This program is excellent for home use, would be a wonderful co-op or Academic class day course, for use in private schools, or simply to ramp up your own education. This will be a company that we do business with for a long time to come.

From video quality to content, this program was of the highest quality. Highly recommended! 

Find  Roman Roads Media:
Roman Roads on Facebook
Roman Roads on Pinterest
Roman Roads on Twitter
Roman Roads on Google+
Roman Roads on YouTube

Disclaimer: I received these books in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expresses are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing in accordance with the FTC regulations.  

@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 29, 2014

Kayaking Field Trip!

We have a terrific Outdoor Campus in our fair city. They run classes all year long on everything from Outdoor Cooking, Skiing, Geo caching, Archery, and more. When I am on top of it I try to schedule one or two classes each season. This last week we and and 30+ other adventurous souls took to the water, in the midst of a gentle summer rain. Thankfully, it stayed gentle as forecasts were threatening lightening and more flooding! Most of the kids, homeschool grads and even parents took to the Kayaks, though there were a few canoers in the bunch and we had only one spill! Brett is an excellent sport and went right back out on the water, and even rescued a stranded canoe, after being towed to shore.
After a quick 15 minutes of safety and instruction, we were ready to hit the water! Cub paddled for the entire hour and 15 minutes, declaring that he'd earned his P.E. credits for the week when he was done. The kids were soaked from the rain AND from being low to the water, tired from paddling and happy to be together. 
Canoeing, then to the park, and then friends for the afternoon. A great way to end the week!

@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!

If You Were Me and Lived in Australia or Russia- Review

Away We Go Media presents more books by author Carol P. Roman in the series, If You Were Me and Lived in....

These terrific books are written by Carol P. Roman, former teacher, successful business woman, Mom, Gramma and award winning author. We've had the privilege to review 2 of her books in the "If You Were Me and Lived in..." series in the past  here.. When we were offered the chance to review two more, Russia and Australia, we were delighted. In addition to the books, Flower was happy to receive a globe key-ring, flags and pencils.
The recommended age for these books are pre-K- 8. Flower loves these books. Is she 11? Yes. Has she done extension geography studies? Yes. Are these seemingly simple books too young for her? NO!

Which leads me to what I absolutely love about this series. It is simple. It is straightforward. It is fun. It is chock-full of great learning! This series takes the complexity of a foreign culture and makes it accessible to even very young children in a delightful way. Each book has a sturdy glossy cover,with unpretentious but engaging pictures. The pictures are in full color; again, simple, but winsome. The first page features a map, with the title of the country and a big star denoting the capital. This is followed by a picture of children pointing out where that country would be on a globe. Each book follows the same format of information delivery; it describes what life might be like for you if you were a boy or a girl living in this country, beginning with common names, common foods, clothing, major landmarks, games, celebrations and schooling. There is an extensive pronunciation guide at the back of each book. Each book is around 30 pages long.

These books are a terrific addition to any home library, would be great to build a geography or cultural understanding unit study around, a good introduction to anyone visiting any of these countries or simply for the geographically curious. Highly recommended as a resource to make learning fun.
Titles in the series so far: India, Turkey, Mexico, Norway , South Korea, France, Portugal, Russia, Australia,Kenya

The list price for each title in the series is $9.99, and it is currently available on Kindle for $0.99.

My previous review of Carole P. Romans books can be found here.
Find Carol P. Roman and Away We Go Media in the following places:
Carol P. Roman on Amazon!
Carol P. Roman web-site
Carole P. Roman blog
Carol P.Roman on FaceBook
Carol P. Roman on Twitter
Away We Go Media

Disclaimer: I received these books in exchange for my honest review. It was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expresses are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing in accordance with the FTC regulations.  

@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!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Veritas Press Self Paced Ominbus- TOS Review

has been a leader in the classical homeschooling movement for years. We have used their Omnibus program in the past and the Veritas Press  History and Bible Cards are de riguer 'round here.

In addition, we have out-sourced course work for several years- through private tutoring, Academic Class Days, on-line courses and programs. We love homeschooling, and appreciate the excellent and growing body of resources available. That being said we were eager to check out the Self-Paced Onmibus I  program by Veritas Press.

Omnibus means "all encompassing" and this program can be used as 1 full credit of English (Ancient World) or, with the addition of the secondary reading, 3 full credits in English, History (Ancient World) and Religion (Doctrine and Theology). The history covered goes from Creation through the fall of Rome.

Each lesson of the course features a video presentation by Instructor, Bruce Etter. In addition, you will hear from many experts throughout this course. There are activities and quizzes as well making this a rich and engaging program. At the end of each lesson there is a quiz, which the program tracks.

Not only will the student utilize the exemplary video program, but they will read, quite a bit actually; we covered Genesis, Exodus, the Epic of Gilgamesh during the course of the review. Topics such as sex and violence are addressed. This program was developed for 7th graders and up, and it does include an advisory for parents. That being said, you are going to want to be in communication with your student as they work through this program. High school is when homeschooling really shines, as the possibilities of exemplary conversations with your student are totally possible. This is just the program to ignite such conversations.

This program consists of "Sessions"
Session 1- Prelude- gives an overall study of the topics
Session II & III - analysis and discussion
Section IV- Recitation
Session V- Evaluation - review questions to spur the student to think deeply.
Daily "class time" will consist of the on-line segment, discussions and readings.

This program is called "self-paced" because you can go as fast or as slow as you would like. Cub has had two huge back to back theatrical productions in the past several weeks, so he doubled up when he was around and paused when he wasn't. The program does all of the teaching and grading. This is an academic program, that will challenge the student, regardless of how much history they have had. Despite the extensive history that Cub has studied, he was continually challenged throughout this program.  In addition, your student will be exposed to quality classical literature- if this is part of your plan for high school, this is an excellent program to introduce them to it with!

Omnibus, like all of the Veritas Press products, are taught from a Protestant Reformed perspective. This is not our faith tradition. As we are quite comfortable exposing our kids to many Christian traditions, this isn't a problem for us, we just keep the dialog open and talk about questions and areas of concerns. More importantly, this program is taught from a decidedly Biblical perspective.

Again, like all of the Veritas Press products we have used in the past, this product is of the most excellent quality; the teaching and delivery system were top notch, the content exceptional and challenging.

Try before you buy:  Omnibus 1 Primary sample page.
Age Level:  7th through 9th grades Price: $295 for 1-year access

Find  Veritas Press in all of the following locations:
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As always, check out what the rest of the amazing Crew thought of this and other Veritas Press products.
Click to read Crew Reviews
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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!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Go Science DVD's -TOS Review

We recently had the opportunity to review Go Science DVDs from Library and Educational Services.
Library and Educational Services is a wholesale distributor and offers high quality materials for extremely affordable prices. We've purchased material from them in the past and have never been disappointed with the service or materials.

I'm a stick with quality kind of girl, so I was confident that whatever we reviewed from the Library and Educational Services would be high quality. I was not disappointed. 

The Go Science DVDs are organized by subject matter.  We reviewed the Chemistry DVD and the Engineering, Design and Flight DVD's. These DVD's are organized in short segments of 3-6 minutes each, with each segment highlighting a science experiment. The total length of each DVD is just under 60 minutes.

Ben Roy is the host and narrator. Mr. Roy teaches Science at the University of Tennessee, is the former director of Channel 9 Science News, has produced science lessons for the Weather Channel, and a Christian Satellite Broadcasting Network. Ben Roy is passionate about science and it shows! 

Volume 6: Chemistry

Mr. Roy hosts a medium size group of kids in each segment, and always introduces a few as his helpers. He is extremely personable. Then he either teaches the kids how to do an experiment or challenges them to one. He talks to the kids throughout the segment- there is lots of enthusiam on the part of Mr. Roy and the kids in the video! The kids build or create something, and then Mr. Roy talks about what happened, drawing Biblical parellels between the experiment and Biblical Truth. Each segment with this: 

"The more you learn about science, the more you learn about the Creator...God!" 

Be still my little science and God loving heart. He doesn't preach, he doesn't stretch science, he doesn't introduce weak doctrine. He just shows the kids the coolest scientific experiments (how to build a pump with a straw, dowel rod and duct tape) and, with a HUGE smile on his face, exclaims, 
"Isn't that interesting? I think that's interesting!" 

Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight

Yessiree, Bob. I DO think that's interesting. He has the kids walk on eggs, balance 7 nails on the head of one and many, many more, fascinating and very interesting experiments. The suggested age range is for ages 6-10. I think if you have science or experiment lovers in your home, these would certainly be applicable through 8th grade. Perfect for the under 3rd grade crowd who are curious about everything, but often need lots of enthusiasm to keep their interest. These videos are extremely well done, with bright colors, excellent sound, and like I said before, fantastic science experiments. 

My kids thought they were a bit old for the videos themselves, in terms of the interaction between Mr. Roy and the kids but both (ages 11 and 14) thought the experiments were fantastic. For older kids these are definitely supplemental, as there is not detailed information about the how and why of things. While the Biblical parellels Mr. Roy draws are interesting, my kids wanted that time filled with more scientific explanation and depth. Mr. Roy whets the scientific appetite, but we wanted him to feed it as well! 

These videos would be a great addition to any elementary aged science curriculum, for use in co-op or for kids of all ages who love science and experiments!

Go Science DVDs  have a list price of $14.95, but Library and Educational Services offers them for $8.97 each!

You can find Library and Educational Services on Facebook.

To find out what my stellar Crewbies thought of this product, click on the link below:

Click to read Crew Reviews

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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!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Diana Waring- Author Interview

As you know, I am part of the launch team introducing you to Experiencing History through Music! That's what the BIG Give-Away is all about ($700+ BIG!- go sign up!). We've been listening to Diana Waring for years- way back when her products came on tapes. Before I introduce you to the wonderful musical history, I want to introduce you to the lovely Diana Waring! 

Author of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring's History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that "the key to education is relationship." Beginning in the early '80's, Diana homeschooled her children through high school–the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn. Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.
I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .
But music WAS in my grandparents' lives. My father's father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there -- tell you later), and my mother's father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.
Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .
Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.
Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings--but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!
Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring -- and it was a JOY!!

2. How did you start writing history books?

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of "America."  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using music exposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to know about how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the "secular" civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.  

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making).  Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity to research and write!

Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  :)

3. What is your favorite period of history?

My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!

I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath.  I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.

Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Security Resources Board, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951.  He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world warwhich was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War.  I still remember listening to my grandfather say, "Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing. . ."  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.

So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.

4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I've ever heard:  "Round Trip Ticket to Samoa". . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  :)

Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother's piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beauty when she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)

5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?

I LOVE "Ho for California" in Westward Ho!  Somehow, this one became my favorite. . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, "Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go.  There's plenty of gold in the world we're told on the banks of the Sacramento. . ."

"Gooey Duck"  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concerts.  There is something so catchy about this song!  Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho!book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams).  He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate.  That has tickled me ever since. . .

"Sweet Betsy From Pike" is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!

6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don't you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.
Switched to oboe in 7th grade.
Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!
Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.
Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, "Godspell."
Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.
Learned to play banjo when I was 23.
But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven's 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?
As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form.  "Old Settler" and "San Juan Pig War" are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .

And, I love "Sweet By and By."  We used to end our "Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale" concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears. . . singing of our "bountiful Father above.

8. What value do you see in students learning America's folk songs?
How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it's music!

Plus, it's part of our American heritage.  It's part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  :)

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?
Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyone.  There is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of "stealth academics," meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won't even realize they are learning.  But YOU will.

10. Do you have other books/products in the works?
Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, "Daughters of God."  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.
Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.
Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

NOTE: There will be a Facebook Party next Tuesday evening, July 1, from 8-10pm EST.  It's a joint party with Diana and A Journey Through Learning. It will start on Diana's Facebook wall and end on A Journey Through Learning's wall. There will be lots of great prizes and freebies, so I hope you can join in the fun!

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