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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Homeschool Classes Online

We've recently had the opportunity to test out the Standard Deviants Accelerate website for review. SDA offers many Homeschool Courses online. Their courses are intended for 3rd graders and up. They offer a wide variety of classes. Apple has been working on the Nutrition Course for a few weeks now.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

This online nutrition class is recommended for ages 9 and up. She has her own login and password for the program and she's been working through it at her own pace. The course is broken down into 8 chapters with 32 lessons and a review for each chapter. There is also a subject review at the end of the course. This class is teaching her the fundamentals of food and how our body uses food. It goes even further to instruct on nutritional disorders, exercise, and weight management. Apple is in that tween stage when I really want her to understand food and how it works. I don't want her to get caught up in any unhealthy eating habits, but I want her to understand food is fuel for our bodies. SDA provides secular curriculum so it doesn't help her understand how God designed her body and food but we will supplement those beliefs in other subjects. 

Apple has really been enjoying this course. She does it everyday during her other online homeschool work. The lessons begin with a video that is 15 minutes or less. Apple found the videos to be entertaining and informative. There is a written transcript on the page with the video if they need to look back or reread the information. There is also an area to write notes which they can save to their "locker". Then the lessons have tabs for vocabulary to study, a diagram to complete, a quiz, and a written answer. The quiz is automatically scored by the program so they can see their results right away, and the student can look over their responses and see the correct answer. For the written response, as the teacher you can go into your account and give a grade to your student(s). The program provides a grading rubric to make that process really simple. There are options to change the rubric, but I have used the existing one. 

The grading rubric made scoring the answers very easy. I found it a little complicated to go in and find the work that needed to be graded. I was able to find it but it was a little time consuming, and it seems like there could be an easier system. Once I gave the grades, they were figured into the average. This is the first year we have done much school online, and I'm finding I really enjoy the programs that keep up with the grade for me. That's one less thing I have to remember to do!

I also had Speedy dabble in the Arithmetic course designed for grade 3 and up. He is doing double math already so I didn't want to lay another math on him as a requirement. He didn't mind going on and trying a few lessons though. He also enjoyed the videos, and he's asked to take the nutrition course too. Since it is recommended for grades 6 and up, I'm not sure he's ready for it just yet, but I set it up so he can give it a try. The Arithmetic class is very similar to the nutrition course. It is divided into 9 chapters with 23 lessons and a review for each chapter. There's also a subject review to complete at the end of each course. You can see on his dashboard below I also have him set up for the Fundamental Math class. I got confused as to which math was recommended for third grade and which was recommended for fourth grade.

Standard Deviants Accelerate has courses for classes as well as for homeschoolers. There are two different pricing options. You can pay a monthly fee per course for up to 5 students or you can pay a lifetime access fee for all 14 subjects for up to 10 students. The subjects range from those I've mentioned to Chemistry and English Comp for high school to AP courses. It is definitely worth taking the time to look around at the courses they offer. At rates as low as $9.99/ month, it isn't a huge loss if they don't work for your student!

See what other Crew members had to say about SDA:

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Pre-Prepping

Just isn't Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes! Getting them prepped and frozen to save time on the big day.

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Homeschool Encouragement

Since the very first moment I even began to consider homeschool as an option, God has sent the most amazing people to encourage me in the journey. I had some lovely friends who took the time to boost my confidence about homeschool. They got me started on the right path and gave me the push I needed to jump in. It seems that everytime I've been frustrated or ready to quit, someone has come along to encourage me about homeschooling or someone has come along to remind me why we homeschool. Just this weekend I had the opportunity to speak with 3 young teachers. I've known these ladies since they were in school themselves.They began to share some of their frustrations with the school systems that employee them. I immediately felt that nudge from God, gently reminding me that He has given us the clear direction to homeschool. Even today when things aren't going as I'd like them to during our school time, I know that this is where we are meant to be. 

If you are thinking of homeschooling or still feel like a newbie, find some encouragers to help you! No one should homeschool alone. Find a local friend who shares the journey or get involved with an online group or Facebook page. Seek out a veteran homeschool mom who has been where you are. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Just last week I learned a sweet acquaintance was homeschooled in high school, and she had plenty of positive things to say about it. 

If you've been in the homeschool biz awhile, find time to encourage someone else. Spread the love! Invite a friend for lunch or a playdate. Share that new resource you found. Or as one of my bestest friends does- just send a text that says "Hi, how are you?". I love it when she does that! We are in the trenches together, and I'm glad God put us together for encouragement,

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dancing into the Christmas Spirit

Maestro Classics now offers The Nutcracker to purchase on CD or as an MP3. They sent me a physical CD to review for the Crew. Their version of this Christmas classic is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and narrated by Jim Weiss. Maestro Classics also offers free curriculum guide downloads for all of their studies so we took advantage of that as well for The Nutcracker.

Maestro Classics Review
This disc shares the story of Clara and her nutcracker in about an hour. The music is superb. The familiar tunes are played with gusto, and the sound quality of the CD is crystal clear. As I rearranged my kitchen (prepping for the holidays), my children sat together listening to the beginning of the story. As the excitement built, one was reenacting the battle with his sword while the other twirled and danced. To say they really got into the story would be putting it mildly. This delightful adventure definitely gave us all a little holiday spirit. 
Jim Weiss has the perfect storyteller voice. He put just the right emphasis into each scene as he told it. All the elements together made the story come to life for the kids and for me! I've been to a live production of The Nutcracker, but it was years ago. The kids had only seen a cartoon edition before hearing it on this CD performed by such a talented orchestra. Since Speedy has a fascination with nutcrackers at Christmas, I figured he would enjoy this fun tale and he did. Apple said the story reminded her a little of Alice in Wonderland
A little booklet tucked inside the beautiful CD cover packs a lot of extra information. It includes a history of the ballet and a short biography of the composer Tchaikovsky. There is even a word scramble and a crossword! Those would be great while listening to the CD in the car on a trip! They add some extra educational value but the curriculum guide I mentioned before holds even more. The guide gives information and links to incorporate science, history, language arts, and even math with The Nutcracker. There is plenty of material included in the free download to make a lovely unit study to go along with this Maestro Classic. 
The Nutcracker is the newest CD/ MP3 offered by Maestro Classics. They currently offer 12 different "Stories in Music". From Peter and the Wolf to The Tortoise and the Hare, each of these classics holds educational value. As a homeschool parent, I appreciate the ability to purchase these stories, all performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, at a reasonable price with a free curriculum guide. We live in an area that offers some live performances but not many so that makes the value of this type of resource even higher. I love that my kids can become familiar with these stories in our own home or driving in our car. 
The Maestro Classics website is really a resource all on its own. From free puzzles and games to some free sheet music, the website is a place to go and explore. There's even a free lesson plan to make a trumpet out of a soda bottle! How much fun is that? I'm tucking that one away for a warmer day when my kids can go outside and treat the neighbors to a soda bottle trumpet concert...
See what other Crew members thought about Maestro Classics:
Maestro Classics Review
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

I love to plan, and I love to review planners! Apologia Educational Ministries sent me The Ultimate Homeschool Planner- Yellow Cover designed by Debra Bell. This beautiful yellow and purple planner made my heart happy! There's just something about that new paper smell with all those lovely boxes to fill in that gives me joy. It doesn't hurt that it's a pretty planner with my favorite color (purple) all over it! If yellow and purple don't tickle your fancy, this homeschool planner is also available in orange or blue.

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
This planner has much to offer any homeschooling parent. When I first received the planner, I opened the cover and immediately noticed a sturdy pocket. There is an identical pocket at the back of the planner. These are great for holding sports schedules, special information, curriculum magazines, coupons, and whatever else you might need to keep close at hand. Sturdy, built in pockets beat paper clips any day!
The first few pages are occupied by calendars. They go from 2015-2016 all the way to 2022-2023. Love! I know those would make some people anxious. I'm the exact opposite. I have to keep fighting the urge to color code the next 6 years... The quote "Order brings Peace", attributed to St. Augustine, graces one of the pages. That should be my life phrase. I just feel unsettled without order. 
This planner doesn't leave you to your own devices. An informative guide to planning is included with a suggested schedule to get you going. I've written several blog posts over the years about my method of planning, and they always generate a lot of interest. If you need help planning out your school year goals and starting a focused schedule for your students, this planner will offer you guidance. There are also some inspiring teaching tips included. These articles cover a variety of educating areas. Near that section is a planning guide for 8th to 12 grades. Now that does give me some anxiety! How scary that we are less than 2 years from 8th grade! EEK! Since we are getting that close those planning pages are very relevant for us. I need to look ahead now to determine if Apple is headed in the right direction with her studies.
The meat of this planner includes fill in monthly calendars along with weekly planning pages. There are 12 of the monthly calendars. Since they are fill in and not pre-printed, you can begin using this planner anytime during the year. (Like right now would be a perfect time!) I filled in my monthly calendar and then put in some of the important things we had coming up. After the monthly planner pages, there are weekly planner pages. The first page includes areas for your Bible Plan, Battle Plan with Fighter Verse, Prayers, and Hospitality/ Outreach. The facing page gives areas to write down achievements, memorable moments, and Evidences of Grace. How special these memories will be when our children are all grown up! While this planner definitely focuses on an educational plan for homeschoolers, these little weekly sections ensure that you will set the focus of the week by focusing first on spiritual matters and that you will journal or jot down important memories of this special time you have with your children.

Following each of those pages are 2 facing pages of blank blocks. This is the area where you can plan your children's daily work. The blank blocks give a lot of flexibility to the way you can use these areas. I made a row for each day of the week and designated the columns for specific subjects. Then I used abbreviations to fill in the daily work for each child. As they completed a subject, I drew a line through the block. You could also use checkmarks, highlighters, or colored ink to designate even further. These pages also give areas to write notes, supply needs, and appointments. 
There are two pages for recording grades. If there's one thing I'd change about this planner it would be that area. I'd add even more grading pages for daily scores. That's just a personal preference and since there are nifty pockets, I can always make my own grading pages and keep them with the planner. After the grading records pages, there are pages to record reading lists for each student and field trips. 
I think this planner is unique because of the focus on family priorities and even character and academic goals. Rather than try to create a place to plan your whole life, this product is very streamlined for the purpose of organizing a homeschool plan and executing it. I think it would work well for a newbie or for a seasoned homeschooling parent. The sturdy covers and pockets make it a winner for me!

See what other Crew members thought about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner:

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Auditory Spelling Program

I am just in love with Institute for Excellence in Writing. We recently received Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] to review. Level A is recommended for grades 3-5 making Speedy a great product tester. Phonetic Zoo is very different from any other spelling curriculum we've ever used. 
 IEW Phonetic Zoo
The starter set came with a listening CD set and MP3 files of the lessons, big Phonetic Zoo Lesson Cards (that work with all 3 levels of the program), small Spelling Zoo Cards, and a downloadable teacher's guide along with a Spelling and the Brain video seminar. It is actually a pretty simple routine. The teacher and student go over the large lesson cards and the student receives a small zoo card for the lesson. Then the student listens to the audio cd for the lesson and a chance to write the lesson words. The disc also gives the words correctly so the student can grade their own work. Once they make two consecutive 100s on a lesson, they can move on to the next lesson. There is no specific time frame for the student to master the lesson so they can move at their own pace. 

I watched the video seminar and familiarized myself with all the materials before we began. Andrew Pudewa suggests they use the program listening through headphones to give them focus and so Speedy has been using headphones. There are some great suggestions for creating a "zoo" space to keep all of their small zoo cards. We did use the large cards regularly before lessons and then Speedy would go and do the lesson on his own. He still struggles with organizing his work on paper so I printed the sheets that were given in the teacher's guide for him to use. This prewritten sheet that was already numbered was a big help for him. The large cards give the spelling rule, jingle, or hint for the lesson along with sample words on the front and the complete word list on the back. These large cards can be used with levels A, B, and C. The small zoo cards tell the name of the lesson with a sample word on the front and give the spelling rule, jingle, or hint on the back. Rather than make a spelling zoo display, Speedy has been keeping his small zoo cards in his desk. He likes the cards because he likes collecting baseball cards and this feels similar. 

The first lesson was a joy for him. He really enjoyed the independence of doing the lesson mostly on his own. It took him a few days to get his two 100s, but he sure was proud when he did. He really got stuck on the second lesson. While there is no given or set number of tries for each lesson, he got frustrated with the number of days it took him to get his two consecutive 100s. He got one and then he missed some words for a few days so it took time to get two in a row. It was a hard lesson dealing with "ie" and "ei". He did finally accomplish the goal and was relieved when he was able to move on. He recently started the third lesson and is working towards the goal on it. 

I like this program and the way it is set up. I know many kids who could benefit from this auditory input focus. Speedy did not do as well with the program as I had hoped he would. After trying this for several weeks, I believe he may be more of a visual learner than I realized. I can relate to that! I struggle to learn and understand information by hearing it. I haven't totally given up on Phonetic Zoo though! I am hoping he will continue to use it even though it is difficult for him because I think there are some big benefits to long term spelling success from this program. It may be one that we have to shelf on occasion and return to later. Because he is at the younger end of the recommended grade level, we may just put it away until next year and try again. While some lessons have been frustrating for him, he hasn't complained one time about doing the daily work. 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Natural Hair and Skin Care Products

Koru Naturals kindly sent me three amazing products to review. I received New Zealand Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, NZ fusion Botanicals Skin Clear Cream, and NZ fusion Botanicals Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic. I couldn't wait to try all three! They were well packaged and arrived quickly.
Koru Naturals Review

I wasn't very familiar with Manuka Honey before receiving these products, but I found out it is wonderful for skin. The Honey and Propolis Soap is a thick bar that smells AMAZING! As in it is totally worth buying a bar just to make your bathroom smell amazing. That's not all though. I have been using this soap to wash my face and I love it. I've used natural soaps as facial cleansers for a few years now and this stands up to any others I have tried. My skin feels great after using it and it smells good too! I may have mentioned that already... I intended to let my child use this soap on her sensitive skin, but I have to admit I haven't given my bar away. I will be ordering her a bar ASAP. These bars would also make lovely Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers.

It is impossible to pick one favorite product out of the three but if forced I would select the Skin Clear Cream. It combines manuka honey, manuka oil, and a few other natural ingredients for a powerful skin cream. I happily used it twice a day on my face and neck as recommended. I still get the occasional blemish and also struggle to keep my skin properly moisturized. Not anymore! Blemishes were virtually nonexistent while testing this product (even during THAT week of the month), and my face has never felt better. This Skin Clear Cream smells really good (see the trend here?). It comes in a lovely little tub with an applicator stick to keep oils and dirt out of the cream. A small dab was more than enough for my face. Y'all I tossed my other moisturizer after using this for a few days. I've never had a facial product I liked more than this one and the price is fantastic!

 Koru Naturals Review

The final product I received was the Argan Oil & Sandalwood Hair Tonic. I have very thick, almost curly (was curly before kids...) hair. It tends towards the frizzies especially when it is humid or raining. I have a love/ hate relationship with my hair. I was in the hate stage when this little bottle with a pump arrived. I've been way past due for a hair cut (and still am) so the ends of my hair were...less than cooperative. This metal bottle comes with a pump so you can apply just the right amount of oil to your hair. I pump one small squirt into my hand, rub them together, and apply to the ends of my hair and then slide the remainder through the other unruly parts of my hair. Think flyaway zones. It really doesn't take much to make a huge difference. I've used other hair oils before with some success but many of them are very expensive. The current price of this bottle is $12.20 and it will last a very long time as a little oil goes a long way. I use it on my hair straight out of the shower while it is wet but it could be applied to dry hair too. While I still need a hair cut, this Argan Oil & Sandalwood Hair Tonic has put some control back to my ends and made my hair much healthier. It also smells wonderful! I know that shocks you. 

Koru Naturals offers many health and beauty aid products. Buying online makes life easier and having so many items to purchase in one place is a huge plus. They offer many other products that contain beneficial manuka honey. I am slowly beginning to understand the added benefits of natural products so I found Koru Naturals at just the right time! I have already recommended these products to several friends and I'm more than happy to recommend them to you!

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Koru Naturals Review
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Middle School Grammar

Brookdale House graciously sent us The Grammar Workbook Set to review. It included a download for a student workbook and an answer key. The student workbook is over 200 printable pages full of grammar and writing assignments geared towards middle school students. The writing assignments are short and the focus is on grammar and understanding writing styles.

Each lesson contains some written instruction that is quick and to the point. I've had Apple working on this independently, and she's done very well. The Grammar Workbook included an optional schedule that I printed and put in the front of her notebook. She's followed it on her own and simply turns in her work for me to grade each school day. It is recommended that students use a 49 page workbook called Diagraming Sentences in conjunction with The Grammar Workbook. I wanted Apple to get some diagramming practice so I did purchase it. The optional schedule includes diagramming days so the work is very well organized. This separate workbook was inexpensive and well worth the addition to her grammar schedule. The schedule breaks the work down into 33 weeks. Some weeks are 4 day schedules and some are 5 day. Apple has found it easy to finish a week of work in 4 days even if the schedule calls for 5.

The  Grammar Workbook starts with sentences and covers all the major grammar rules through punctuation. At this point, Apple is very familiar with the parts of speech and most of the grammar rules so it is a big plus that the book hits each topic and then moves on. Each part includes the written instruction and several exercises to practice. There is fill in the blanks, sentence writing, and so on. These short lessons give the student an opportunity to practice the grammar skill and then go on to the next topic. This feels just right for a middle school student who has years of grammar under their belt. They need to make sure they have mastered the rules so they can move on from basic grammar. Some textbooks and grammar studies for the age group are the same as the elementary grammar books. They are long and overwhelming. That type of grammar instruction just isn't necessary for many middle school students.

I think the best feature of this grammar curriculum and what sets it apart is the imitation writing exercises. Each writing task gives four options. You can elect to have your student copy the given selection, write it from dictation, rewrite it using an outline, or rewrite it in their own words maintaining the original author's style. As the teacher, you get to assign which option(s) you'd like your student to complete. So far we've stuck with option 4. Apple gets plenty of dictation and writing from outlines in other subjects. Writing to imitate style has been a challenge for her, but I think it is a wonderful practice. The funniest experience during our time using this product was the day she was imitating a paragraph of Patrick Henry's famous speech. She wrote a complete satire without realizing it. While I deducted a few points for not fully following the instructions, I gave her a decent grade because you can't do a satire of a piece without understanding the style! How often do you really get to have fun with grammar?

I originally just printed out a small portion of the student workbook and put it into a folder for Apple. I also printed the optional schedule and the Diagraming Sentences workbook. Since Apple is enjoying this approach to grammar, I printed out a larger portion of the work this week and put it all in a 3 ring binder for her with her optional schedule. As she does a day's work, she marks it off on the schedule. This has been terrific as I have been looking for ways to push her towards a little more independence in her school time.

The Grammar Workbook allows Apple to complete her grammar independently, and she does not feel like it is loaded with busy work. I know she is getting a chance to really master the basic grammar rules that she will need to use her whole life. This is an affordable choice for middle school grammar that is available as a digital file or in printed form. I'm so glad we have had the opportunity to try it, and Apple plans to keep using it. 

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 Brookdale House Review
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Andi #3

We were very excited to receive Andi Unstoppable to review. This is the third installment of Amanda Flower's Andi Boggs novels. Apple has enjoyed each book in this series.

Andi Boggs is a middle school student living in Killdeer, Ohio with her aunt Amelie and her sister Bethany. Bethany and Andi moved in with their aunt after their parents were killed in a plane crash. Now Andi has settled in at her new school, and she and her friend Colin have a new mystery to solve. Is there really a ghost in town? How are Andi and Colin going to complete their bird watching project with Ava in their group?

"I like that Andi dares to be brave and she tries her best to obey her guardian. She's really smart. Andi is sad that her parents are gone, but she doesn't mope around. I really like how mysterious this book was and I enjoyed the twist at the end. I like that Andi tries to help Ava (who started as her enemy) out in the end. I like to keep reading these books because they don't follow a pattern."~Apple

These Andi books are fun mystery reads. The main characters are intelligent and well behaved. I hope there will be more Andi mysteries in the future.

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

Tween Hair Book Review

Apple has recently become interested in styling her own hair on a regular basis. A hair dryer and flat iron are on her Christmas wishlist. She's been doing her own hair on and off for sometime now but now she is really into doing it everyday and trying different styles. Since Apple tends to be a hippie much more expressive with her appearance than I am I knew she would enjoy a book of easy to do hair styles.

Faithgirlz Best Hair Book Ever was just what she needed. This 127 page book is full of modestly dressed girls and amazing hair styles. The book is full color and full of hair info! There are quizzes and hair info along with instructions for 124 hair styles! How cool is that?

Apple has enjoyed reading the hair info to learn more about hair, hair myths, and new hair care tips. She's also been trying some of the fun new hair styles. There are plenty of fun styles that go beyond the boring traditonal styles.

If you have a girl who is looking to try some unique hair styles on her own, I'd highly recommend the Best Hair Book Ever! From updos to accessorized hair, there's something for every girl.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Staying at home with your kids takes more discipline than most people realize.  As a mom, you have to search deep within to find the patience it takes to spend all day with your kids. If you are homeschooling your kids, you have to dig deep to find a different sort of patience and understanding. Throw in blogging or working from home and you can quickly find yourself drowning under the pressure of it all.

While I'm certainly no expert, I have found a few tricks that help me stay afloat. First you are going to need to discipline yourself. It is easy and oh so tempting to hang out on the couch and binge on your favorite Netflix shows. That's not a good idea. At least not on a regular basis.

The first order you need is time in prayer and God's Word. I think that should be the high priority for any Christian but as a parent you especially need that extra time with the Lord. Doesn't matter if  you do it first thing in the morning or last thing at night. After awhile you will probably find yourself in prayer all throughout the day. Kids can lead you to that with their....cute quirks.

Personally I thrive on a schedule. I find that a schedule promotes order in our home. Maybe you aren't such a scheduled person. That's okay! However I would suggest at minimum a list of daily goals. When my kids were little my schedule consisted mostly of household chores and meal making. When I started working from home I had to add those times to my weekly schedule. Blogging was later added to the list. When we started homeschool, my schedule became a whole new thing and it changes from semester to semester. I still make it a point to schedule in cleaning and chores on a regular basis. Otherwise it would never get done! Now that we've settled in our home, I've reinstated the chores for the kids too.

Balance is another key. You can't work all the time without burning out! It can be hard to relax at home when home is your workplace. That's one reason I enjoy my kids playing sports. It gives us regular time outside the house so I am forced to just hang out. I have a great time watching them play and I don't feel pressured to get up and clean or work or lesson plan.

So to my friends who have recently asked me about homeschooling or working from home...this is my advice to you! Self control and balance will take you a long way. So will a little schedule making. Don't forget to schedule some free time to spend with our spouse or just hang out with your kids. Those little moments are the best, and I'm sure they are the ones I will miss the most when my babies are all grown up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review & Giveaway: NKJV Study Bible for Kids

The latest item we received to review for Tommy Nelson was a NKJV Study Bible for Kids. While both kids have several Bibles, Speedy has been ready for "big kid" study Bible. I thought he'd like this one, and I was right!

Speedy likes this Bible because:

*It's easy to look things up. The sides of the page have the books of the Bible.
*It's got a lot of cool stuff like "Starring Roles" and "Action!".
*It is NKJV so not as hard to read as King James Version but not a kid's version.

This is a hard cover Bible that is packed with helpful study material. The "Starring Roles" boxes give more information on people from the Bible. The "Action!" boxes relate the material to day to day life. There are also "Epic Ideas" (themes for Christian life), timelines, introductions for each book, maps, and more! While there aren't cutout tabs, each page has a black box on the side with the title of the book and first verse on the page. Speedy has found that particularly helpful while thumbing through finding specific verses for homeschool work. The font is a good size which makes it easier to read. 

Obviously Speedy likes it. I like it too! It is colorful and packed full of information. It has recently been his Bible of choice, and I see him looking through it often. Our kids have both naturally progressed from kid's Bible stories to reading easier versions of the Bible and now to studying on their own. Apple has several Bibles she uses for personal Bible study and now Speedy has this one. I'm so happy that both of our kids enjoy spending time in the Word!

If you'd like to win a copy use the easy Giveaway Tools widget below. One person will be randomly selected to receive their own NKJV Study Bible for Kids. Ends Oct. 20,2015.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Complete Literature Study Guide

We like to try many different approaches to studying the literature I have assigned to the kids. Progeny Press sent us a wonderful Tuck Everlasting Study Guide download to review so we added the book to Apple's reading list. This was the first guide I've seen that recommended the student read the whole book before doing the work.

Progeny Press Review

Apple really enjoyed that approach. She loves to delve into the story, and she finds stopping and working after each chapter can detract from it. So she read Tuck Everlasting first. It was her first time reading the story by Natalie Babbitt. She found the story very intriguing. When we went to the local bookstore to purchase our copy, there were only 2 left. A sales associate told me it is a very popular book locally for school reading lists.

Progeny Press Review
This digital download study guide that I received is recommended for grades 5-8. Each guide is intended to take eight to ten weeks to complete. The product can be printed or you can have your student complete the guide on the computer. Adobe Acrobat 9 and up will open the guides to print or use interactively. We tried the interactive version but Apple decided she preferred the materials printed. I was happy to print it for her, and we placed it in a 3 ring binder for easy access. The guide is 54 pages long, and there is a separate answer key download for easy grading. 

The guide gave some "pre-reading" suggestions.  Apple chose to give a brief presentation on Juan Ponce de Leon and his quest for the fountain of youth. This worked out perfectly given our recent study of another explorer. I just love when our subjects all blend together. 

This guide has a great focus on vocabulary comprehension. Each section begins with vocabulary work but the activities are different each week. There were multiple choice questions, fill in sections, and some activities with word banks. This keeps the student really involved in learned the words and definitions without boring them. If you have a student who struggles with vocabulary, it would be easy to have them complete the activities before reading each section of the book so the meanings would be clear.

The real meat of the unit study workbook was the discussion questions. They really prompted Apple to dive deeper into the symbolism and meaning of the book. She loves to read and she's great at comprehending reading material but this was a chance for her to explain some of it in written form. I felt like this was a great exercise for her because I was able to send her back to think more about some of the questions. She also tends to be brief with her writing so I used lots of these questions to encourage her to give more detail in her written answer. Some of the discussion questions used Bible verses to compare and contrast or further explore an idea from the book. A Christian component is something I haven't seen in many study guides. Because Tuck Everlasting explores the idea of eternal life, there were some interesting discussions. 

Progeny Press offers their study guides for many pieces of literature. Their website has the guides divided into lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school so you can easily browse the level you need. They offer printed study guides as well as the e-guides. I think the interactive e-guides are a great resource especially for a child with access to their own computer. Everything on the guide we received could have been completed on the computer except one word puzzle. 

All in all, I felt like this was a great unit study. It covered many different aspects of the novel while giving added vocabulary instruction. The pre-reading suggestions were great as were the overview activity suggestions. Apple loves a fun project! While we wouldn't do a unit study this intense for every single piece of literature the kids read, I think it is great to focus on a couple of pieces of work this way each school year.

See what other Crew members had to say about Progeny Press materials:

Progeny Press Review

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Friday, October 9, 2015

First Year on the Crew

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I joined The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Time has really flown by. Now the 2016 Crew application is open for anyone new who is interested in applying. If you are a homeschool blogger, I'd like to encourage you to fill it out.

When I applied last year, I wasn't confident I would make the cut. I had applied once in the past and wasn't selected so I almost didn't reapply. I'm so glad I did! Not only was I accepted but I've loved being a part of the Crew.

This year the TOS Crew got the opportunity to review loads of homeschool curriculum products, some books, and even some fancy all natural beauty products. The review calendar runs from about January through mid-November. When you are selected to receive a product, you get several weeks to really use that product before sharing your opinion.

I loved so many of the products I reviewed this year but our favorites were Spelling You See, IEW, and Homeschool Planet. Homeschool Planet is one that I wasn't sure I even wanted to review and I ended up loving it! My kids really enjoyed trying so many new things and getting to change up our school time on a regular basis.

The Crew gets access to a wonderful forum where we get pertinent information and have a place to share and talk. It's been great seeing the support that everyone gives one another. The Crew leadership has been fantastic and even though the guard is changing I know we will be in good hands for next year.

So if you homeschool your kids and you have a blog, take a few minutes to fill out the application. There's nothing to lose but a year full of fun reviews to gain!

Schoolhouse Review Crew 2016 Applications