Middle School Electives

The Academy at Bright Ideas Press Benefits

All times are listed in Eastern Time Zones.  For questions regarding placement or general questions for teachers, please email academy@brightideaspress.com .

Preregistration is now open!  You can pre-register here.

 

13 Art Techniques Everyone Should Know

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Jenn Totaro

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 9 am ET  

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  13 Art Techniques Every Child Should Know, list of art supplies to be provided

Description:  Do you have a student that loves to create art?  Perhaps your student thinks art is the most ridiculous, boring subject in the world.  Either way, there are lots of art techniques that can open the door to creativity for the artist and non-artist alike.  Using the book “13 Art Techniques Children Should Know,” we will explore a myriad of mediums, techniques and hands-on projects that will bring art to life in a fun, interactive way.  We are created by the most amazing artist ever, and each of us is made in his image, so that means we are artists!  Working from this belief, we will approach art in an encouraging, explorative manner that will increase the knowledge and skills of the most enthusiastic artist, as well as help the most reluctant artist find a creative outlet that brings joy. Join us as we look at, learn about, and experiment with a variety of art techniques that will cause you to never look at art the same way again! Because of the interactive nature of this class, microphone capabilities and a webcam are required.

 

Discovering Art Through Children’s Literature

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Jenn Totaro

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 9 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  List of needed picture books and art supplies to be provided

Description:  We all had favorite picture books as a child, and if we are asked about it, we would probably share the story that it contained.  However, if you close our eyes, you can probably picture an illustration from that book that brings the story to life for you.  Was it the cartoon-like characters, the intricate borders, or perhaps the collage creations that captivated you?  Perhaps it was the life-like paintings or the photographs that stuck with you.  So often, we overlook the art of illustrations, yet it is what draws us to a book.  In this class, we will be looking a bit more closely at how art is used in children’s literature and why it should be considered.  In Discovering Art Through Children’s Literature, we will explore the variety of techniques employed by illustrators, discover other famous works that utilize those techniques and create with those same techniques.  Using a fun, hands-on approach, we will consider and create art from a fun, exciting and thoughtful realm that will improve your artistic skills, challenge your imagination, and help you see art in a whole new light.  A wonderful class for artists and non-artists alike! Because of the interactive nature of this class, microphone capabilities and a webcam are required.

 

American History with the American Girls I

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time: Thursdays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials: American Girls books, the first book for each girl in the “Beforever” series plus one solo book:  Kaya (The Journey Begins: A Kaya Classic 1),

Felicity (Love and Loyalty: A Felicity Classic 1), Very Funny Elizabeth (by Valerie Tripp), Caroline (Captain of the Ship: A Caroline Classic 1)

(Parents are welcome to check out of library vs purchasing – expect to renew at least once)

Description: American history lived through the stories of girls her own age – these engaging and historically accurate books bring history alive! In this highly interactive class, your daughter (or son, welcome but rare) will engage with historical events in a compelling story that makes history accessible and understandable. Students will begin to grasp the flow of history through time, the life of a girl near their age in different time periods, how historical events impact the daily lives of people living through them, and elements of daily life in each time period. Students will also see that the presence or absence of a relationship with God is demonstrated in literature, even when it is not overtly mentioned. This is a tool for the process of developing spiritual discernment. Your daughters will learn about American History in the years 1764-1814, hitting some of the high points of historical events in different areas of the country and with different ethnicities – Native American, British, American citizen (Kaya, Felicity, Elizabeth & Caroline).

Hands-on, interactive assignments engage your students with culture and history – one of the highlights is always the “Choose Your Own Adventure” project. Students will also “teach” the other students in the class through short oral reports and brief presentations. This unique course is found only here and is not based on any published curriculum other than the excellent books. (Class size limited)

 

American History with the American Girls II

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time: Thursdays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  Josefina (Sonlight and Shadows: A Josefina Classic 1) (Beforever book series 1), Marie-Grace (all three books – see syllabus for details),Cécile (all three books – see syllabus for details),Kirsten (first two books in series – see syllabus for details) (Parents are welcome to check out of library vs purchasing – expect to renew at least once)

Description: American history lived through the stories of girls her own age – these engaging and historically accurate books bring history alive! In this highly interactive class, your daughter (or son, welcome but rare) will engage with historical events in a compelling story that makes history accessible and understandable. Students will begin to grasp the flow of history through time, the life of a girl near their age in different time periods, how historical events impact the daily lives of people living through them, and elements of daily life in each time period.Students will also see that the presence or absence of a relationship with God is demonstrated in literature, even when it is not overtly mentioned. This is a tool for the process of developing spiritual discernment. Your daughters will learn about American History in the years 1824-1854, hitting some of the high points of historical events in different areas of the country and with different ethnicities – Hispanic, American, free African-American of French culture, Swedish immigrant) (Josefina, Marie-Grace, Cécile, Kirsten).

Hands-on, interactive assignments engage your students with culture and history – one of the highlights is always the “Choose Your Own Adventure” project. Students will also “teach” the other students in the class through short oral reports and brief presentations. This unique course is found only here and is not based on any published curriculum other than the excellent books. (Class size limited)

 

Middle School Health

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Amanda Hunter

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 11 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Materials:  Total Health by Susan Boe

Description:  The Bible will be presented as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. We will explore all these facets through the study of the following topics: making wise choices, the human body, nutrition, fitness and exercise, disease, managing of stress/anxiety, developing good habits, maturity, and interpersonal relationships. Students will display mastery of topics through assignments, quizzes, projects and tests. Emphasis will be placed on application of health and wellness topics to improve your personal health and that of those close to you.

 

Middle School Public Speaking and Debate

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Jamie Anderson

Recommended Grade Level:  5-7

Day and Time:  Fridays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  Speech Class for Teens: 28 Speech Class Lessons Plus Handouts and Forms (ISBN-13: 978-1478309130), plus: Bill Bennett’s Daily American Patriot Almanac

Description:  Middle School students need to be proficient at talking, not just texting. This fun introductory class will help students overcome a fear of public speaking and introduce them to the art of public speaking through enjoyable speech and debate activities. Students will learn how to craft a believable argument and engage in some friendly debates to sharpen their reasoning skills. Mrs. Anderson will provide weekly instruction in public speaking & debate, but students will also need to be prepared to come on camera and microphone every week (or post a recording before class.) Students will take turns speaking on topics of their choice, being evaluators, being impromptu speakers and serving in other roles (impromptu leader, grammarian and timer). Students are required to have a microphone and camera.

 

Mythology:  It’s All Greek to Me, Percy!

Full year

Teacher:  Jenn Totaro

Recommended Grade Level:  7-8

Day and Time:  Tuesdays at 9 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series books 1-5, others TBA

Description: Have you ever considered why we are so intrigued by ancient Greek mythology?  Why are the beliefs, language, customs, and stories of a tiny island in the Mediterranean even worth considering?  Utilizing the ever-popular book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we are going to find out.  As we delve into this series and a variety of other books, we are going to discover just how much the ancient Greeks influenced not only their world at the time, but our current one as well.  We utilize their myths, their language, and many other allusions that we had no idea trace back to mythology or the ancients.  God even uses their language to describe himself.  In our relatively young country, we have been greatly influenced by a very old culture.   If you are looking to read a great book series, and walk away with a far greater knowledge of mythology and the influence of ancient Greece on our world today, this class is for you!  This class will include online assessments, writing assignments and projects.  Because of the interactive nature of this class, microphone capabilities are required and a webcam is strongly recommended.

 

Raspberry Pi

One semester: offered spring only

Teacher:  Geoffrey McComb

Recommended Grade Level:  6-12

Day and Time: Thursdays at 9 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  TBA

Description: This generation has grown up using computers, however they don’t necessarily know how they work – or how to make them do what they want. The Raspberry Pi, a small single-board computer, was created to teach young people about computer hardware, operating systems, and programming! In this class, we explore the amazing possibilities of this little device with an active project-oriented approach that includes an introduction to Raspbian, a variation of the Linux operating system created just for the Pi, introductory programming using Scratch, Python, and Sonic Pi – a musical programming language, as well as several hardware projects.
Rush Revere and US History I

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  None (Students may join class in either semester – 1 or 2)

(Students may begin either semester)

Course Materials:  Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and the First Patriots

Description:  For this new, highly interactive course we read through these two books together, enjoying the historical accuracy and humor found in these time-travel books. The author highlights the differences of this nation’s founding from every other nation on earth and is not afraid to honor what is good about the U.S. (When the US is at fault, we will also discuss that, and God’s purposes in it.) We will stop and focus on major historical events and themes through outside sources, individual research, oral reports, “Choose Your Own Homework Adventures” (crafts, legos, video-making, creative writing, building, cooking, woodworking, sewing – students choose), and games in class that apply to learning. This class will begin with a study of the Pilgrims for the first part of the semester, followed by a study of the first patriots in New England during the buildup to the American Revolution. Instead of just memorizing “The Stamp Act”, your students will live through the issues presented to the colonists. This is “not your mama’s” history course – it’s history through living books that engage your students in history and help them understand from the inside out that history is the story of God moving in His people to accomplish His purposes. Parent Note: The reading level of these books is somewhat advanced. Please don’t let that stop your student from joining us — if your student is not quite ready to read and understand independently, consider reading the books together! That is really the best plan of all!

 

Rush Revere and US History II

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  5-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  None (Students may join class in either semester – 1 or 2)

(Students may begin either semester)

Course Materials:  Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner, Rush Revere and the Presidency

Description:  For this new, highly interactive course we read through these two books together, enjoying the historical accuracy and humor found in these time-travel books. The author highlights the differences of this nation’s founding from every other nation on earth and is not afraid to honor what is good about the U.S. (When the US is at fault, we will also discuss that, and God’s purposes in it.)  We will stop and focus on major historical events and themes through outside sources, individual research, oral reports, “Choose Your Own Homework Adventures” (crafts, legos, video-making, creative writing, building, cooking, woodworking, sewing – students choose), and games in class that apply the learning. We will begin with a study of the American Revolution, giving your students a unique and authentic experience with the issues and this war. Following that, we will study the Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812, taking a similar interactive approach with this “second” Revolution. Then we move to the third Book, studying the presidency of the US. This is “not your mama’s” history course – it’s history through living books that engage your students in history and help them understand from the inside out that history is the story of God moving in His people to accomplish His purposes. Parent Note: The reading level of these books may be challenging for some 5th-6th grade students. Please don’t let that stop your student from joining us — if your student is not quite ready to read and understand independently, consider reading the books together! That is really the best plan of all!

 

Trip Around the World- a Six Language Adventure

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  7-9

Day and Time:  Wednesdays at 9 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  Given in class

Description:  How do you decide which foreign language to study? What if you start with Spanish, but don’t really like it – and find you like German better? You have already invested in the first choice, and it’s hard to make a change. This class can help! Your student will experience a taste of six languages and cultures, and touch on the geography and culture to go with them. We will explore Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Arabic. Your student will learn the same Scripture in each language, the chorus to “Jesus Loves Me”, how to count (at least from one to ten), the basic colors, as well as elements of the culture and the countries who speak that language. We’ll discuss and research the spiritual climates in each culture as well — what is the predominant faith? What is evangelism like for missionaries to this culture? And we can’t leave out the best part — we’ll explore foods, recipes, and other ways to engage with the languages & cultures we study. Students will do a few small projects of their choice and have one Culinary Adventure, in which each student prepares at least one dish from one of our cultures for the family.  With this kind of overview, your student has experience and knowledge on which to base his high school language choice. Foreign language and culture study are part of developing your student’s heart for missions as he sees the value and dignity of each people group God has created, as well as helping grow a desire to communicate the amazing truth of the Gospel to all nations.

 

Second Trip Around the World: A Three-Language Expedition

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  7-9

Day and Time:  Wednesdays at 9 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials: Given in class

Description:  This three-foreign language expedition takes an interactive look at Spanish, French, and German, spending about a month on each language. We explore these through motions, storytelling, and copywork – the class even writes a group story IN the foreign language! Students will have the chance to learn two Scriptures in each language, a hymn and a folk song, and work with colors, numbers, and common structures in each language. During class, your students will practice the languages through some storytelling, reading, writing, and responding in the target language. They will also briefly study the geography of the regions which speak the language, the spiritual climate of the countries, and the culture and foods. This is an exploratory class rather than an academic class, so memorization is not required – but the students are required to say their verses in class, with instructor help. The scores are for trying, not for the quality of their pronunciation. Independent research and oral reports back to the class are an integral part of the class. There will rarely be a quiz or test; the bulk of the grade comes from the daily work and class participation. One project will be required, and three small ‘culinary adventures’ in each language culture are also required. This is a student and family favorite!

 

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt with the 39 Clues

Full year

Teacher:  Jenn Totaro

Recommended Grade Level:  7-8

Day and Time:  Wednesdays at 11 am ET

Prerequisites:  None

Course Materials:  The 39 Clues Complete Collection Books 1 to 10 (Maze of

Bones, One False Note, Sword Thief, Beyond The Grave, Black Circle, In Too

Deep, The Viper’s Nest, The Emperor’s Code, Storm Warning, Into the Gauntlet)

Description:  There is so much more to a book than just the story within it. Join the ultimate scavenger hunt as we read the first ten books of the 39 Clues series. Through this engaging series, we will crack codes, travel the world, and learn about many historical figures and places. Experience the adventure of two orphaned siblings and their race to find the secret to their family’s power, as well as the responsibility that comes with it. In this literature-based course, we will tackle a well-rounded variety of topics that touch on a variety of subject areas. We will be using a Notebooking approach to homework which will include map work, written assignments, and projects. Students will be required to do some research through online databases or books obtained outside of class (the local library is a great resource). This fast-paced series makes it difficult for anyone to avoid wanting to read, and with all of the great learning opportunities packed into these books, it will be an exciting adventure for all!

 

Windows to the World 1

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  8-10

Day and Time:  Wednesdays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  Prerequisites: None (Students may begin with any class in the cycle ~ 1,2,3 or 4)

Course Materials:  Access to the YWAM Books for each missionary we study,

plus a choice of a few others from a book list (library, borrow, etc.).  Missionaries included this semester: Francis Asbury, DL Moody, Clarence Jones, Betty White, Loren Cunningham, and (time-dependent) one of the student’s choice.

Description:  In Windows 1 we study missionaries and history in the US from the circuit riders to important missions work (US and foreign) by people still living. For this highly interactive course we travel around the world and through different time periods with world literature — missionary biographies of different regions as well as fiction and/or non-fiction books set in those regions. Oh, the literature is outstanding! Students will read one missionary biography from each region, plus one other book – either another biography or a superior work of fiction.

Students write different kinds of short reports to ‘teach’ the rest of the class about the history and culture, explore the culture and the spiritual climates, and work with a timeline and maps through a semester-long project. The literature comes from all time periods (thus the timeline). We learn a lot about missionaries’ lives, the need of the culture for Truth, how the culture’s view of God affects what happens in the country and in its people’s lives, what is happening historically in the country of study and in other countries around the world, and how God is at work through time and place.Parents may purchase the books or check them out of the library — a list will be made available to those registered for the class. What it is not: It is not a typical curriculum-based, chronological move through world history. We step out of that box and move through different time periods, always with a view to the present country or region. The assignments include a lot of reading, so the student and parent must commit to reading the books (usually very interesting). If a student has reading issues, it is fine if the parent reads them aloud to the student — but there must be a commitment to do the reading. Other assignments are hands-on and designed to engage the student in the region’s culture, history and spiritual realities. We will include videos, music, foods, and customs. Students will be asked occasionally to prepare a food and serve it to their families.

Windows to the World 2

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  8-10

Day and Time:  Wednesdays at 1 pm ET

Prerequisites:  Prerequisites: None (Students may begin with any class in the cycle ~ 1,2,3 or 4)

Course Materials: Access to the YWAM Books for each missionary we study, plus a choice of a few others from a book list (library, borrow, etc.). Missionaries included this semester: Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, Jonathan Goforth, Mildred Cable, Eric Liddell, plus either Gladys Aylward or Isobel Kuhn, student choice.

Description:  In Windows 2 we study missionaries and history in the US from the circuit riders to important missions work (US and foreign) by people still living. For this highly interactive course we travel around the world and through different time periods with world literature — missionary biographies of different regions as well as fiction and/or non-fiction books set in those regions. Oh, the literature is outstanding! Students will read one missionary biography from each region, plus one other book – either another biography or a superior work of fiction. Students write different kinds of short reports to ‘teach’ the rest of the class about the history and culture, explore the culture and the spiritual climates, and work with a timeline and maps through a semester-long project. The literature comes from all time periods (thus the timeline). We learn a lot about missionaries’ lives, the need of the culture for Truth, how the culture’s view of God affects what happens in the country and in its people’s lives, what is happening historically in the country of study and in other countries around the world, and how God is at work through time and place. Parents may purchase the books or check them out of the library — a list will be made available to those registered for the class. What it is not: It is not a typical curriculum-based, chronological move through world history. We step out of that box and move through different time periods, always with a view to the present country or region. The assignments include a lot of reading, so the student and parent must commit to reading the books (usually very interesting). If a student has reading issues, it is fine if the parent reads them aloud to the student — but there must be a commitment to do the reading. Other assignments are hands-on and designed to engage the student in the region’s culture, history and spiritual realities. We will include videos, music, foods, and customs. Students will be asked occasionally to prepare a food and serve it to their families.
World History with the Girls of Many Lands I

One semester- fall only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  6-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 11 am ET

Prerequisites:  None (Students may join class in either semester – 1 or 2)

Course Materials: Girls of Many Lands Books (Spring Pearl, Minuk, Kathleen, Neela)

Description:  Send your daughter on a unique tour of world history! Studying history through living books will help ignite your daughter’s interest in the past as she identifies with the protagonist in the era presented in each book. This approach brings history to life as we read four books each semester based on the lives of young women (age 12) in different countries and different epochs.

As we read, discuss, and research, we learn some of the history, the culture, the language, and the customs and daily lives of people the world over.  These girls faced civil and political discord, intrigue, colonization issues, war, disease, justice and injustice based on social standing and gender, while coming of age themselves. We discuss each of these issues as it arises. While these books are not (generally) written from a Christian worldview, we bring our faith to the books, the issues, and the history as your daughters continue to learn to practice discernment in evaluating the content of these books (or any book or text) from a Biblical perspective.

The books are part of a series published by American Girl called “Girls of Many Lands”.  In this first semester, we move chronologically from China during the Second Opium War (1857) with Spring Pearl, to the Alaskan interior in a Yup’ik Eskimo people group (1890) with Minuk, to Dublin, Ireland, as Ireland is struggling for independence (1937) with Kathleen, and finally to India with Neela as India struggles against British rule (1939). Since the history, topics and situations the girls are involved with are more mature than the historical American Girl books, students should be in middle school, from ages of about 11 to 14. The books are available at Amazon in paperback (and perhaps on Kindle). Purchase is not necessary unless your student wants to write in the book (a wonderful practice!). You may check them out of the library or borrow them if you like.

 

World History with the Girls of Many Lands II

One semester- spring only

Teacher:  Marji McIlvaine

Recommended Grade Level:  6-8

Day and Time:  Fridays at 11 am ET

Prerequisites:  None (Students may join class in either semester – 1 or 2)

Course Materials:  Girls of Many Lands Books (Isabel, Cécile, Leyla, Saba)

Description:  Send your daughter on a unique tour of world history! Studying history through living books will help ignite your daughter’s interest in the past as she identifies with the protagonist in the era presented in each book. This approach brings history to life as we read four books each semester based on the lives of young women (age 12) in different countries and different epochs.

As we read, discuss, and research, we learn some of the history, the culture, the language, and the customs and daily lives of people the world over. These girls faced civil and political discord, intrigue, colonization issues, war, disease, justice and injustice based on social standing and gender, while coming of age themselves. We discuss each of these issues as it arises. While these books are not (generally) written from a Christian worldview, we bring our faith to the books, the issues, and the history as your daughters continue to learn to practice discernment in evaluating the content of these books (or any book or text) from a Biblical perspective.

The books are part of a series published by American Girl called “Girls of Many Lands”. In this second semester, we move chronologically from China during the Second Opium War (1857) with Spring Pearl, to the Alaskan interior in a Yup’ik Eskimo people group (1890) with Minuk, to Dublin, Ireland, as Ireland is struggling for independence (1937) with Kathleen, and finally to India with Neela as India struggles against British rule (1939). Since the history, topics and situations the girls are involved with are more mature than the historical American Girl books, students should be in middle school, from ages of about 11 to 14. The books are available at Amazon in paperback (and perhaps on Kindle). Purchase is not necessary unless your student wants to write in the book (a wonderful practice!). You may check them out of the library or borrow them if you like.

Pre-registration is now open!  You can pre-register here.

 

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