Sunday, March 21, 2010

There's a "Mapp" for That!

Ever watch your man study a map? There’s just an intensity there, wheels visibly turning, all the parts falling into place as the big picture becomes focused. Then, there’s the favorite map of females everywhere... the mall directory with a great big red star that proclaims: “you are here!”. Maps are important; maps give perspective; and maps are a big part of understanding the larger scope of history, especially for kids.
Homeschool in the Woods recently sent me their wonderful maps to review and I am excited to share them with you! As your kids study the past, maps will help to provide a big “red star” of sorts, that let’s them know that this important event happened “here”...and helps them to reflect the past back to their own spot on the map, to see how that relates to them currently.
If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you know you can’t underestimate the power of a good, handy map! Much time can be wasted on the internet looking for just the right one, with certain borders or features, or from a particular time period. Or, like me, you may own a book of maps that are reproducible...but you can’t quite get the book flat enough in the copy machine to print out one decent piece of paper minus a dark, foggy line up one side...argh!
Argh no more! Homeschool in the Woods has thought of everything for your mapping needs. Their Olde World Style United States Maps come in so many format choices, there should certainly be something for everyone. From U.S. maps that show physical features or political borders, to maps that display Colonial America or Slave/Free states, there seems to be a map for any and every need. You also have the flexibility of having a map with or without labels, enabling you to print from your computer just the right amount of info and leave off things you want your child to fill in. 
The folks at Homeschool in the Woods suggest printing these maps on manila or parchment to give an old world feel, there are other tips for creating beautiful yet functional maps, as well. There are also pages to print for various labels, flags, notebook covers (to create a nice, personalized map book) and more. They’ve even included bonus notebook pages for you to use containing state facts, and special sheets for lap-books too!
But wait! There’s more! Forgive the sales pitch, but I have only given you half of the story as far as the offerings from Homeschool in the Woods is concerned. Besides the thorough options for mapping the U.S. (more than I have mentioned), there are equally amazing maps for charting the rest of the world. 
It would take up too much space to list all of the maps you can print for studies with their Olde World Style Modern and Ancient World Maps, but let me just throw some out there (besides the obvious maps that one would expect in such a collection, there’s many more that you will find useful). For instance, there are maps for ancient Rome, the twelve tribes of Israel, Paul’s missionary journeys and the Ancient Viking World, to name a few. Furthermore, there are modern maps, timelines, and maps for oceans too.
The notebook pages available with the World Maps are well rounded, spurring on creative ways to make history or geography come alive. There are pages for Explorers, Flora and Fauna, Languages, Holidays, and more! Your kids can make travel brochures for places they are studying with the Brochure templates. There are also printouts that look like scrolls, or pages to help your student write a report. The plethora of choices gives a whole new meaning to “thorough”. Homeschool in the Woods seems to have covered all bases and I am very thankful to have their maps available on my computer, to print out just what I need, just how I need it...without a big black smudge across the edge! I hope I have piqued your interest enough that you will check out these offerings, as well as many other helpful history and timeline products, including free unit studies, available on their website: here. At just $18.95 each (downloaded straight to computer, or for $1 more you can have it in a CD format) or $28.95 for both sets (add $1 for the CD) these maps are an investment in your school with paybacks every time you hit that “print” button.

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.