And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spelling You Need to See

I am so excited to tell you all about Spelling You See. We were sent Level G: Modern Milestones to review for the Crew. I requested this from the two newest levels available after Apple took the Skills Assessment available online. The passages in this level focus on people in history who made an impact in areas like science and music (which are 2 of her favorite things!).

Spelling You See Review

With Modern Milestones, there is a short instructor's handbook that includes each lesson's passages and an answer key. This level also includes a pronunciation key for the names. Big help! The student pages are divided into 2 workbooks. The student pack also includes a package of erasable coloring pencils (the thing Apple was most excited to receive). This level contains 36 passages. Each passage has 5 activities to go along with it. The "A" page introduces the passage and has the student read it aloud. Then, they write the passage on an included page. "B" is a repeat of "A". "C" gives them the chance to read the passage aloud and fill in some blanks working with changing suffixes and prefixes. "D" and "E" are an opportunity to read the passage and then write it by dictation. Every day the student uses the colored pencils to mark specific base words,suffixes, and prefixes in the passage.

Spelling You See Review
Apple finished 1 lesson each week. She would do 1 page a day and then add in an extra page on Wednesday or Thursday (just depending on the week), because we do not do seat work on Fridays. It was very easy for her to complete the 5 activities in 4 days. The lessons do not take much time at all which is a bonus in a subject like spelling. She loves that there are no tests in this curriculum! It really seems so easy to just use words over and over to learn them but it makes sense, right? We really learn things (some of us anyway) by repetitive use. Apple struggles with repetition and "busywork" but this doesn't feel like that at all. She knows a new passage will come the following week so she's content to repeat the passage daily. I think she also enjoys the confidence she feels about the passage by the last dictation exercise.

Spelling You See Review
She is delighted to learn about people like Copernicus and Botticelli. We have even looked up extra information on some of the people from her passages.  She is especially interested in looking up the artwork of the various artists mentioned. I love it when a lesson gets her curious enough to do extra research on her own!

Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See is meeting 2 huge needs for us.

1. It isn't a rote spelling curriculum. My kids were both so over the spelling curriculums with a list and a few activities and then a quiz. One is so far ahead on reading level that any words we tried were too easy. The other one was just learning the words for the quiz but wasn't memorizing them to use in regular writing correctly. With Spelling You See, they are reading the words daily, speaking the words daily, and writing them daily in context so they really seem to be committing the words to memory. Plus, it is a whole passage and not a list of words so they don't seem to stress over it as much.

2. It is a whole passage that they write all week. My kids need lots of help with their handwriting. I've stressed handwriting and tried many different methods to get them to improve their printing to no avail. I've tried so many different kinds of copywork, but they buck at the idea of copywork. Writing these passages daily really is copywork, but they don't see it that way. The passages are interesting and the book says "spelling" so they don't even associate it as handwriting practice. Score!

If you've noticed I said "kids", I was immediately so impressed with the method of Spelling You See that I ordered a level for Speedy. My plan was to use it for him in the fall, but he was so excited to get his own that we started it early! He has struggled with spelling in his writing, so I can't wait to see the results! I'm happy we have been able to get a jumpstart on this spelling curriculum that we will use in the fall for both kids. Spelling You See is very affordable for a full year's curriculum. The Instructor's Handbook also came with a code for additional online resources for the teacher like helpful videos so make sure to look for that code on the wrapper if you order a set!

See what other Crew members thought about Spelling You See Level F: Ancient Achievements and Level G: Modern Milestones:

Spelling You See Review
Connect on Social Media:

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Cheerleader Journalist Off the Record

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Samantha Sanderson is back for her third book Off the Record. Apple was so excited that a new book was released in this series. This Faithgirlz book by Robin Caroll brings back the cheerleader journalist "Sam" and her friends for a new mystery. 

Sam is still on the school newspaper battling mean girl editor Aubrey. Makayla and Sam are working to figure out who installed a virus on their school's computer which affected all the student's report cards. Some students suspect new girl Felicia but Sam isn't convinced. Since Samantha's dad is a detective, some of the information he discusses with her is off the record on this case.

Apple enjoys this series because Samantha solves mysteries and has a dad in law enforcement. She likes books like these that focus on school and friendship. While Samantha does have a crush, it isn't the main focus of any of the books in the series. Samantha is working hard in this book to "love her neighbor" which is something we talk with Apple about quite often. I always enjoy gentle, juvenile Christian fiction that she can read without any worries.

Don't miss the first 2 books in this series- Samantha Sanderson At the Movies and Samantha Sanderson On the Scene.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Read Your Bible

Read your Bible. Christians, pick them up and absorb the words God has given us. There are many amazing Bible studies available, and over the years I have recommended several to you. Bible studies can be useful, but I believe now more than ever that they shouldn't take the place of reading God's unfiltered word. You can listen to podcasts, read a book, and even watch movies based on God's word now. None of those take the place of reading the words yourself. Our world is a place full of perversion and sin masquerading as the new will of God. God's word hasn't changed. Now more than ever we need to get deep in God's word. We need to write it on our walls and implant it in our hearts. We need to teach it to our children. We don't need to flee from His word and instruction. 

With our Sunday School class, we have been reading through the Bible. We aren't to the point of studying word by word. Instead we are encouraging the adults in our class (and ourselves) to spend time in the word every week. Every day if possible. Many have found listening to the Bible via apps is a great way to get started. 

It's so easy to convince ourselves that we don't have time. That we are too busy. That working, raising kids, school, sports, and sleeping take our whole day. How much time do we spend doing frivolous activities though? How much time do we spend on social media, reading books for pleasure, watching television, watching movies, reading the paper, watching the news, doing a hobby, driving to activities, going out to eat, getting a mani/pedi? None of those are bad. None of those are things I'm telling you to stop doing. All I want to encourage you to do is trade a little of that time for the richness of reading the Bible. 

It's hard to begin. It's easy to quit. Start small. Don't plan to wake up 2 hours early to study the word. Don't think it will be better to start in the summer or after the time change or after baseball season. Start now. Challenge yourself to read 2 verses a day. Challenge your family to memorize one verse. Challenge your husband to read a chapter and discuss it with you. Challenge your BFF to read a book in the Bible and discuss it with you. Pray about it. 

I hope you are making time to pray too. I once thought prayer was only for meals and bedtime. Then I thought I needed a "prayer time" set aside each day. That's a great discipline but over the years I've found a better discipline is praying all throughout the day. If a friend asks for prayer, pray right then. Pray with them or take a moment by yourself to take their request to God. Let Him guide you throughout your whole day. Don't know what to pray? Find a Bible verse and pray it! 

If you miss a day or a week or a month, don't give up. Pick it up and start again. There's no self destruction button on the messages from God. It's there whenever you're ready. I'm praying you start right now!

Do you have any tips to help others get in the habit of reading the Bible? 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Who Has Time for Down Time??

Trying to rest is hard y'all. It seems like there is already so much to do in a week's time. This week I was sick a few days (pollen=allergies=boo!) so my productivity was limited to sitting on the couch attempting to teach school. Glad we can do our day in our pjs when needed. I fell out of my 7 am wake up call but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. We are getting back to it tomorrow!

I have limited my Sunday "work" as much as possible the past few weeks. I think just being aware that I need time to relax with my family is the first step. Making a checklist seems to help. If I can prioritize my activities for each day then I feel productive instead of guilty as I work my way through the list.

It may sound like busy work to some people, but the more I can prepare things beforehand, the better my days go. So if I can lay out clothes the night before or pack bags or pre-make meals then I will be in better shape.

What are your best tips for organizing your time so you have time to relax? Do you schedule in "rest" or relaxation time? We are looking forward to a family trip soon. I am praying and planning now so hopefully I can relax and enjoy myself on our trip.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Bible for Your Early Reader

I received a free copy of this book as a Tommy Mommy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Apple is finishing up a confirmation class at church that she has enjoyed so much. We've used the excitement of her class to really start encouraging Speedy to spend more time reading the Bible on his own. He goes to Sunday School and church each week, and we do daily devotions and Bible studies as part of our school time. There is always so much more to learn by reading God's word on your own though. Hubby & I are reading through the Bible with our adult Sunday School class right now, and I think we just feel even more convinced that our family needs to spend a good amount of time immersed in the world both with others and individually. So this was the perfect time for us to receive The Early Readers Bible for review.

Speedy says:

*I like the cover because it is really cool.

*I like that it is New King James Version because my other Bibles are different.

*I like the pictures. There are pictures in every random part.

*There is a picture timeline at the end.

*There are really nice maps too.

*I like how big the words are (larger font).

The big font makes it easy for him to read. He actually is finding the NKJV very interesting because he's so accustomed to the NIV and ICB. This Bible is packed full of maps, pictures, and charts to keep young readers engaged. There are places to note special events and reading plans. The most exciting part is a colorful illustration timeline that includes Biblical History and Secular History from the birth of Abram to the exile of John in AD 100. The only thing I see that I would add to this Bible would be tabs. It is so difficult to teach children to navigate the Bible without tabs.

The version of this Bible we received is a hardback and it would be excellent for churches to give as "move up" gifts to children. Our church typically gives each child a Bible as they move into 2nd grade.

Reading and understanding God's word is so important. I think "we" have let this discipline slide in recent times. We have more Bibles available to us than ever before, but I'd dare to guess we read them less. Reading God's word and having it in our memories brings peace and a closer relationship with God.

Because I feel so strongly about us all staying well versed in the Bible, I'm thrilled to give one reader a copy of The Early Readers Bible. Fill out the easy Giveaway Tools widget to enter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Fun Learning Website for Gamers and Readers

My kids both enjoy reading and are becoming gamers, so I knew they would have fun with The Treasure of HighTower from Star Toaster. This educational gaming site promotes learning through online books and games. This is the first book in the Orphs of the Woodlands series and is an online curriculum we have been reviewing for the Schoolhouse Crew. This educational adventure is recommended for students in grades 4th-7th. This is a completely online resource that worked great for us on Chrome.

Star Toaster Review

First, the student fills out a spy application to begin their adventure. Then, they read a chapter of the book. At the end of each chapter is a list of jobs for them to perform. These jobs earn them goldstars which help them save the orphs (orphan Woodland creatures).

The story itself is intriguing and contains loads of vocabulary words. Select words are typed in color so the reader can hover over them to read the definition. Other color coded words give secret information or quotes. Some even have a sound effect! This spy story has so much packed into the 376 pages that I cannot possibly give you every detail.

Let's move on to the jobs. This is where even more learning happens! At the end of each of the 15 chapters, the reader is given a list of jobs to do. They can do as many or as few as they'd like before they continue reading. Each job gives them the opportunity to earn goldstars. The jobs are in the categories: the arts, math, thinking skills, vocabulary, life skills, character, language, and science. Each job has a short lesson (by video, reading, examples, and/ or a recipe) and then some questions. If your child answers all of the questions correctly, they will receive goldstars. Jobs that are not completed will stay available.

Then your child has a chance to save some orphs. They use the goldstars to purchase plots of land and then water, energy, medicine, etc. The more land and supplies they purchase, the more orphs they save. There is a topbar that shows the number of orphs saved, available goldstars, and the number of jobs available. This helps the student keep track of their progress through the game.

Apple has played this game for a few weeks and has completed it. She loves to read and enjoys online games so this was a win-win for her. She is a quick reader so it didn't take her long to complete. She enjoyed the "spy" theme of the game and the jobs that were available. She commented on many of them that corresponded with her current school lessons and those that included fun things like recipes.

I have an account set up for Speedy, but he has not really gotten started yet. He has read a few pages of it so far but he reads at a slower pace than his sister and so I need to break the chapters down a bit for him. This is recommended above his grade level but his reading level is on par to enjoy the story. He has been interested in the game and has watched Apple play a few times. I didn't want to stress him out with a time constraint so it will be easier for him to enjoy the game now that she has finished.

There are so many things we like about Orphs of the Woodland. It is learning by reading. It contains many topics and subjects for a well rounded educational experience. The 60 day subscription is perfect for a summer program that is fun. The game aspect is a terrific motivator. It is useful no matter what type of school your child is in. I can also see this online book working during times it is hard to homeschool or times when your child is bucking the idea of school. Online curriculum can be a wonderful tool during busy/ crazy times. I love that it is extra schoolwork without my kids complaining about it.

We noticed a few things that would enhance the experience with this game. The first thing is if a student misses a question or more on a job, they don't receive any stars for that job and they are unable to retake it. This was frustrating for Apple. She wanted to finish buying all the plots of land at the end but was unable to do so because of a lack of goldstars. Also the chapters are very long. For a more cautious reader like Speedy 20-30 page chapters (even short pages) can be intimidating. I plan to giving him a daily goal as he reads through the book. I think the games will keep him excited. Plus he loves spy stories! Navigating the site does take some patience in the very beginning. There is a drop down menu, buttons in various places, etc. It isn't terribly hard to figure out, but I would recommend parents take some time to familiarize themselves and then show students where they need to go for the important things. Also students and parents log in using the same email address but different passwords. That actually makes logging in easier, but it is important to make sure students are logged in correctly so that their work is saved under their account.

Apple's Orph plots of land.

So to recap....Star Toaster's Orphs of the Woodlands series begins with the first book The Treasure of HighTower. This program comes in a 60 day subscription (1 month extensions are available) and is recommended for 4th- 7th graders. The program includes a 15 chapter book and educational jobs where students earn goldstars to save the Orphs. Exciting. Fun. Educational.

For a limited time you can sign up for a free trial:

Star Toaster Review

Find out more by reading what other members of the Crew thought of this program.

Star Toaster Review
Connect with Star Toaster on Social Media:

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Jesus wasn't in the business of making people comfortable. Quite the opposite. He made Joseph & Mary uncomfortable when he disappeared to teach in the temple. He made the apostles uncomfortable by calling them away from their jobs, families, and homes to follow Him. He made the Pharisees uncomfortable by telling them their cleanliness didn't come from the outside. He made the people uncomfortable by eating with Zacchaeus the tax collector.

Maybe you are uncomfortable in life right now. Maybe waking up early each day is uncomfortable (raising my hand here). Maybe homeschooling your children or working or your marriage or your church has you feeling ill at ease. Maybe you've got medical issues or family concerns and you feel out of place.

If you are uncomfortable and you are praying and reading the Word, I'd venture to say you are exactly where God wants you to be right now. The Bible doesn't say He promises us happiness here on earth. Jesus certainly wasn't comfortable up on that cross. Maybe your prayers aren't being answered or the "prosperity" just isn't happening. Don't fear. Don't worry. Embrace the discomfort and keep your faith.

Our real comfort, our real happiness, our real blessings won't be here on earth.

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap #Giveaway

I received a (free in exchange for review) bottle of new Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap. Dial hand soap is very common in our home because it is so affordable and there's always a new one to try. This new Miracle Oil Hand Soap is infused with Marula Oil just like the new Dial Miracle Oil body wash.

The cheerful orange soap reminds me of the original liquid Dial hand soap that my grandparents always had on their sink. The easy pump bottle is designed to cleanly and efficently deliver hand soap with ease. That's important when kids are using the soap too! This conditioning soap smells great and works like a charm. I am constantly washing my hands so it is important to have a gentle but effective soap.

Designer soaps are really just soaps that cost more money. Dial soap is available in many stores for an affordable price. It works great and won't dry out your hands. This Dial Miracle Oil soap has such a pleasant scent and the inclusion of Marula Oil that it's hard to resist! How would you like to try your own bottle? I have a variety of 3 Dial Soap coupons good for various free bottles of hand soap to giveaway to one of you. Enter via the Giveaway Tools widget.

I received a free bottle of hand soap in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Midnight is Not Part of the Routine

I have done so well with my routine last week and this week. Now it's midnight though, and I'm still awake. I'm thinking this doesn't bode well for my 7 am alarm. I cringe just thinking of it.

Things that are working well:

*2 lunch dates with friends this week! Always wonderful. A great stress reliever for the kids and especially for me.

*Purging items for the upcoming consignment sale. Yay for getting rid of things we no longer need! Of course I will be buying things at the sale so.....

*It's baseball season. :) I know this doesn't mean much to some of you but I have a fella who LOVES to play so this is his very favorite time of year.

*Accomplishing so many things before lunch by getting up at 7. Seriously. It's a whole thing.

*Seeing the end of the school year approaching on the calendar. All the home school mamas say "Amen!"

*Almost being finished selecting curriculum for 2015-2016 so I can start planning. That makes me very happy. I love to plan. Plan all the things!

*Warmer days so children can play outside. That's working swimmingly.

What's working well for you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

{This is a sponsored post.}

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

 I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired... And there were only 50 deals available at once... I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN!


Thousands of new products - Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There's a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more!

Offers that NEVER expire - Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price.

Discovery - It's easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos' interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more! Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.36.15 AM

Follow your favorite brands and Sellers - The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers!

  Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.59.18 PM

The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be -- the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The BEST Pencil Sharpener

I've finally found it. I'm so excited. I should have bought one when it was recommended to me last year. Really. This is the one. This amazing pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies is just what every classroom needs! It is durable and the unique design ensures you will get a sharp pencil every time! We've been testing it for a few weeks for this review, and we haven't had a single jam or issue.

We've gone through MANY pencil sharpeners over our years of home school. My kids want to sharpen their pencils every day. Several times every day. We've tried electric sharpeners (they break),
other manual sharpeners (they break), hand sharpeners (I just can't even), expensive pencils (still need to be sharpened over and over), mechanical pencils (they break), and we've even tried using pens (my kids are too messy for that). 

This sharpener is so easy to use. Check out the video for a demonstration!

 The sharpener has grips inside the hole to hold the pencil securely in place.

The front slides open to hold the pencil. 

 Perfect point every time.

See how happy they are about sharp pencils? This sharpener makes me happy because it is durable, doesn't take up a lot of space, isn't loud, works quickly, and it makes a wonderfully sharp pencil  point that will keep Apple & Speedy in their seats!!! Until they think of another excuse to get up......

The Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener is available in 4 colors: Firehouse Red, Groovy Green, Midnight Black, and Cool Blue. There are specials for buying in multiples and the prices are very reasonable. 

If you are a teacher (homeschool or otherwise), I highly recommend this sharpener to you. It would also make an AMAZING gift for a teacher! Everyone uses pencils so they would work for Sunday School classes, offices, home use, and more. 

See more reviews of the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Do you ever NOT do what you know you should? I stay on my kids about that all the time, but I'm just as guilty. I know our school days go best when I get up at a certain time every morning. I know if I get up at 7, shower, and drink my coffee, I have a better day. I know it. I do it for awhile. Then I get lazy and don't do it and days are rough.

Since I'm attempting to rest on Sundays, I decided to go back to getting up at 7 am every day this week. It's amazing how productive our week has been. School has started well and ended at a reasonable time. I've gotten so much done this week. Life has been easier.

I did get sidetracked doing errands and much needed shopping yesterday and missed my workout class! I don't like it when that happens, but sometimes responsibilities have to come before Zumba. I did get plenty of walking in at the mall, Sam's, and several other stores.

I'm going to really, really try to keep up the 7 am wakeup. Getting regular sleep is so important and so is peace in this house! I love sleep but tend to struggle with it a bit. What's your regular wakeup time? Or do you wing it?