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

Monday, November 30, 2015


The holidays are no joke for grownups. This time of year is exhausting (the "e" I almost chose!). It can be so easy to slip into frustration, stress, or depression.

I find this time of year it is super important to take a few extra minutes a day just to exhale. Just time to get a good breath and let it go. Everyone has different methods of relaxing. For me it comes down to a few simple ingredients:

~Coffee....of course! Or some other soothing beverage. Perhaps a Dr. Pepper or hot tea? Those are my back up selections. When it is cold, a warm beverage has such a relaxing effect. Thus the reason Sheldon always offers it to friends in distress!

~Music....a good song or playlist can make a bad day into a good one. I'd love to make some recommendations for you here but that could take awhile. I really love so many different kinds of music. My playlists look like they were compiled by a multitude of people. I will currents favorites are Christmas music (Michael Buble & Pentatonix have some excellent songs) and Adele (because Hello!). Music has a drastic effect on mood so if you are already feeling down, try something peppy! Put on some dancing music and turn that frown into a smile!

~Candle or Fireplace...until recently my only choice would have been candles. I love a happy little candle with an enticing (see another E word!) scent. I always have extra candles around this time of year because I love the fall and winter special scents and because they give me a little joy with each flicker. Now we have a fireplace and I'm quickly becoming addicted to it as well. From the smell of the wood burning to the warmth to the lovely is a mood lifter and definitely helps me relax.

~Clothing...I was tempted to just put sweatshirt or sweater here but I realized it goes beyond that. Put on some comfy clothes or your favorite raggedy robe. Whatever it takes to feel comfortable. Why sit around in discomfort? This of course is only for times when you are at home...without company...

The real point here is just to take care of yourself this holiday season. Don't lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Find the things you enjoy (pie? fudge? egg nog?) and spend a few minutes enjoying them as you exhale. As you are exhaling, spend a few moments with God in prayer and thank Him for the joy of the season.

I'm really enjoying this journey of blogging through the alphabet! Be sure to check out all the posts here:

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Staying Hydrated #gravgear

Some people don't enjoy drinking water while they run or exercise. I am not one of those people. I find myself needing steady hydration during a workout. I received a Grav Gear Hydration Running Belt for review. This sturdy belt holds two 9 oz bottles of water and has a pocket for carrying other items.

This ain't your mama's fanny pack. This sleek belt fits snug to your waist and is adjustable. It won't swing or move while you are running (or in my case walking fast!). The pocket is designed to be flat but it will hold your phone, keys, iPod, and/ or anything else you need to carry with you. The pocket also has a headphone slot making it easy to listen to music on your jaunt.

I do take jogs alone but many days the kids are with me. We take long walks around the neighborhood or short hikes on nature trails. It is always an argument about who will carry the water. Not anymore! Because the belt holds 2 bottles, I now have one for myself and one for them to share. The bottles are flexible so they can squeeze their drinks out and germs won't be an issue. I like this belt so much that I almost wore it on a recent evening of high speed shopping. I didn't but I could have!

This belt is available for purchase through Amazon and would make a terrific gift!

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Favorite Black Friday Deals 2015

This post contains affiliate links and referral links.

I want to give you a list of my favorite Black Friday deals (for today 11/27/15) that you can redeem right from the comfort of your home! Some of these end today and some are good for the whole weekend. Please refer to each individual website or offer for all the details.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Start by opening an Ebates account! Ebates is the place to get money back for almost every online purchase. As you shop you can use an Ebates link for up to 12% cash back for purchases. Please use my referral link to start your account: Plus you will get a welcome bonus! Black Friday means double cash back with Ebates! Today's offers include 10% back from Macy's and 8% back from Kohl's!

You can get your family registration to Teach Them Diligently and save $10!!!! Please use my link to redeem your offer. In 2016, TTD will be in 3 cities and this unique convention is fantastic for homeschooling veterans, homeschool newbies, and Christian families. You can read all about my experience at TTD 2015 in Nashville.

Maestro Classics is offering up to 70% off with free shipping. 3 of their CDs are only $5 today! My kids fell in love with their version of The Nutcracker when we received it to review recently.

Great Products is offering 50% off all their Homeschool Christian T-Shirts. Everyone in my family owns at least one of these fun, humorous shirts. Be sure to use code SAVE50.

We have fallen in love with Grapevine Studies since reviewing their Old Testament Level 1 study. You can get 30% off their Birth of Jesus Study as a Black Friday/ Cyber Monday special! Take advantage of this offer using my affiliate link:

HEDUA is offering a FREE 2015 Homeschool coupon book! Get it by clicking the image above. Today you can also save 50% on their 2015-2016 Well Planned Day planners! This is one of my favorite planners and you can get the deal by following my affiliate link: They are on day 3 of 6 days of deals. Sign up for their emails to get access to the rest of the special savings!

Educents is always offering fantastic freebies and great deals. Today through Monday you can get free shipping and an extra 10% off using my link,, and the code GIVETHANKS. Educents is also offering a free coupon book! Make sure to get yours here:

If you use Homelife Academy, you can preregister your kids for the 2016-2017 school year for 25% off. This deal is good through Monday. You will also be entered into a special prize giveaway! This is the biggest sale HLA offers, and I take advantage of the huge savings every year!

Doorposts is offering the Parenting Pack for 50% off! This pack includes 2 charts and a checklist to reference and with the discount it is only $9!

Unlock Math has become a new favorite for Apple since our review. You can get $50 off the annual purchase using my referral link: This all online math program is great for PreAlgebra!

Check back here because I will post more deals as I see them! Thank you for supporting Carter Chaos blog by using referral and affiliate links included in posts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

D is for Delicious

My dad's favorite treat was peanut butter fudge. It became a tradition to make it for him for every holiday. It was never too much trouble because I love it too! As far as I know everyone who has ever tried it has loved it. So of course I still make it for my family even though my dad is no longer with us. I made my first batch for the holiday season today, and it came out perfectly!

You need:

3/4 c butter
2/3 c evaporated milk
3 c sugar
2/3 c peanut butter
13 oz marshmallow cream

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Once it is melted stir in evaporated milk. Then add all 3 cups of sugar. Stir, stir, stir. Once it begins to bubble you really need to start stirring as you let it boil for 5 minutes. You arm will feel like it may fall off....keep stirring! When the 5 minutes is up, cut off the heat and stir in your peanut butter. I prefer crunchy but creamy will work as well. Once the peanut butter is melted, grow a third arm because you still need to stir as you add in the marshmallow cream. Once it is all melded together and feels like you are sticky from head to toe, pour the yummy sugary goodness into a pan. This corningware dish that was my grandma's is my vessel of choice but you can go with metal or glass. The size just depends on how thick you want your fudge. Then it just needs to sit for a bit to solidify. Cut into squares and serve to the people you love! It is very sweet but oh so DELICIOUS!

I am blogging through the alphabet with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude! Check them out and find all the other D posts for this week.
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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Results are In

Last week I gave you a rundown of some of our favorites for the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards. Today all the winners were posted and you can check them out on the Schoolhouse Review page. We enjoyed all the reviews we were able to do this year. 

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

Many of our favorites made the list! Some of the ones that were voted into a top spot (that I didn't include in last week's post) were:

Favorite Grammar: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Fix It! Grammar
Grammar was a tied category for us but Fix It! was in our top two. 

Favorite Penmanship Program: CursiveLogic
We voted for CursiveLogic, and Apple is still using it! 

Favorite History Curriculum: Homeschool in the Woods
Apple and Speedy voted for this study. We stepped away from it for awhile but both have recently asked to pull it back out. 

Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Grapevine Studies
Grapevine Studies was our last review item for the Crew for 2015. This was another tied category for us but Grapevine was in the top two!

Favorite Middle School Product: The Critical Thinking Co.
Apple voted for The Critical Thinking Co. with no hesitation!

It was so much fun to vote for our favorites. We were blessed to try over 35 new (to us) homeschool (and personal) items from the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year. I'm so excited to let you know that I was selected to participate in the Crew again in 2016! I can't wait to see what fun things we get to test next year!

You can see all the award winners on the Schoolhouse Review Crew website and if you scroll down there is a linky for posts like this. Be sure to check out the other Crew members' choices for the 2015 Blue Ribbon Awards! 

C is for Change

Sometime around year 2 or 3 of our homeschool journey I found that Apple operated well with a set of 5 plastic drawers. She had a drawer for each day of the week to keep all of her books and school work. When she finished an assignment she would put it into the next day's drawer. She was much younger at the time and rarely did a subject every day. Over time as we've adjusted this system as needed and Speedy eventually received an identical set of drawers.

Amazingly enough all children are not the same. After a particularly difficult few days, it was clear some adjustments needed to happen. Even though some of the things we do in our school day are things we've always done, some of them weren't working. I should have seen it coming. I've regularly needed to adjust and change things for one student. However I don't like change so I guess I just avoid. Avoid. Avoid. AVOID! Until I can no longer avoid.

So last week we made some changes. Now one student has a whole new organization system. Rather than use the big drawers (which had just become full of nonsense) this student now has a basket with a folder or notebook for each subject. The drawers are gone and there is just this small wicker basket in the space. Said student is thrilled with the system and I really am praying this is a step towards independence for this child. 

It's only been a few days but so far things are working well. Rather than put all completed work in one basket this student is putting completed work back into the subject folder. Now everything is in one place and the pupil seems pleased with the streamlined method. As you can see, the other student is still quite happy with the drawers system, and that is okay with me!

How do you organize your homeschool?

This post is linked up with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Listen to the New Testament

The kids and I love to listen to audio books and audio dramas in the car so we were so excited to receive an audio Bible to review. We spend a good bit of time in the car so I knew it would be beneficial to have the New Testament on CD. The Word of Promise is more than a simple reading of the New Testament in NKJV. It is an audio drama with a star cast of voices. 

When I read that it was an audio drama with so many big names, I was concerned that this would be a loose interpretation of the Bible. I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be a direct reading of the Word. Every part I've checked with my Bible has been spot on minus some "he said" or other similar wording that is unnecessary when someone is actually speaking it.

The cast includes familiar names like Richard Dreyfus, Kimberly Paisley Williams, Michael W. Smith, and so many more. We've enjoyed this production so much. The kids are asking questions. We've spent time comparing the gospels. We've paused the discs to discuss parts further. My kids don't know who any of the actors are, but they can appreciate the differences in voices to indicate various people.

This is a great product for someone new to the Bible that struggles with reading the Word. It is just as wonderful for someone who has read the New Testament again and again as this gives a fresh perspective. When my kids were little I was always looking for the Bible story books that told the real Biblical account. It doesn't get any closer than word for word!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

B is for Blue Ribbon Awards

We just placed our votes for the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards for 2015. This was a fun way to vote for all our favorite products we have reviewed for the Crew this year. It was so hard to pick in so many categories! The kids and I also disagreed on a few. The voting results for the whole crew will be posted on Monday, November 16 but I wanted to give you a little preview of our selections.

Favorite Math:

We were divided on this category but CTC Math won the vote. This multi-level online math program has so many advantages that I had to pick it. Speedy uses it every school day and is finding great success with it. 

2nd place in this division would be Unlock Math with Apple's very exhuberant vote! 

Favorite Reading:

Star Toaster Review

Star Toaster's Orphs of the Woodlands won this category easily. 

Favorite Writing: 

IEW's TWSS and SWI of course! I also voted for it as the Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed. 

Favorite Spelling:

This was another divided category for us. I made the final selection and voted for Spelling You See. There are so many reasons I love this approach to spelling! Speedy also enjoys Spelling You See and still uses it but he wanted to vote for Phonetic Zoo which he is using at the same time. 

Favorite Book, Audio Book, or Audio Drama:

This was a really hard choice to make because we enjoyed all of the audio books and audio dramas we reviewed this year. In Freedom's Cause was the unanimous decision because it was so exciting and unique. 

There are loads of other categories but those are our top/ most controversial choices for the Blue Ribbon Awards. I will end with each of our final selections.

Apple's Kids' Choice Award: 

Speedy's Kids' Choice Award:

My All Around Crew Favorite:

Spelling You See

I'm excited to see the results next week! It will be interesting to see how many of our favorites made the top spot!

This post is linked up to Blogging Through the Alphabet with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude!
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Bible Studies for Multiple Grades and Ages

This post contains affiliate links.

GrapeVine Studies offers a unique way to incorporate Bible studies for various grades or ages within a family. They were kind enough to send me Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob and Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob teacher's manuals and workbooks for review. These are all digital files and there are 4 levels available this study. I used the teacher's guides directly on the computer and printed out all the pages the kids needed from their respective workbooks. 

Each level basically builds a little onto the previous level so Apple had just a little more work to do for each lesson than Speedy did. My kids are fairly familiar with the Old Testament so these studies worked as a review for them. It's been awhile since we focused on memory work so I was pleased to see a good deal of memory verses included in each level. Since my Sunday School class has been reading through the Bible and we started with the Old Testament at the beginning of the year, I didn't have to review too much to be prepared for the lessons. GrapeVine studies offers this chart below to help you know where to begin your family studies. 
Grapevine Studies Review
One this I noticed right away is that GrapeVine studies include stick figuring through the Bible. Their premise is that kids will remember more by drawing, hearing, and writing through the lesson. I think it is a great idea! I thought my non-artsy kid might revolt but he did not. Both kids actually enjoyed the stick figuring very much! I am no artist so I'm glad this just required stick figures and not fancy drawings! 
The study begins with a timeline lesson. Each student is given a timeline to fill in as you explain each piece. It is recommended that the teacher do the drawings on a white board. After that first lesson, there are 9 regular lessons, a section review in the middle, and then a final review for a total of 12 lessons. There are schedule ideas included to do each lesson in a week (4 days) or weekly. We tried both ways and enjoyed both ways. For us it made more sense to do it based on the other things we had going that week. On busy weeks we did it all in one class and on slower weeks we spread it out into 4 days. The kids didn't have a preference. 
A regular level 2 lesson includes:
*Timeline Review
*Memory Verse Review
*Places to draw or stick figure the lesson
*Lesson review questions 
*New Memory Verse and drawing space
Level 2 also gives extra information to memorize like the first few books of the Bible and that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Level 2 has been just right for Speedy. He has enjoyed the pace of the work and he's learning more about the Old Testament than he usually does in Sunday School. 
Level 3 includes all the same parts to the lesson as level 2 but there are more memory verses. There is also some mapwork for this level. This GrapeVine study has also been great for Apple. She possibly could have moved on up to Level 4 just based on her Biblical knowledge but this has been a great refresher course for her. 
This study gives lots of freedom to the teacher. As I mentioned before this is the perfect series to be a Bible class for multiple grades. We do Bible all together and this has made it a breeze because each one has their own work but the lesson is the same. Speaking of the lesson, this course leaves a majority of the lesson up to the teacher. You can simply read the verses or you can relate the stories to real life. It's basically up to you to decide how much or how little you'd like to do. You can do something different with it every lesson if you want! There are some discussion notes in the teacher's manual to keep the students on track for their reviews. It is recommended that you draw examples on the white board as you go through the lesson. Colored pencils are recommended for the students to do their drawings but you can see my kids preferred to use markers. 
I really like many aspects of this Creation to Jacob study. It is a solid way of studying the Bible. We've done a variety of devotionals, Christian living books for kids, and some apologetics over the years. I think this is the best study of the Word that we've used during homeschool other than some studies we did all on our own. Drawing their own visuals is a great way to help them connect to the story and make it memorable. It is also new which helps them both focus on stories that they've heard over and over. I think it is also a big plus that this is a relatively short study. It can easily be completed in 12 weeks or less. GrapeVine offers several other multi-level choices and I'm interested in doing more in the future with my kiddos. 
See which Grapevine Studies other Crew members reviewed:
Grapevine Studies Review
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Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

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This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tasty Soothing Drops

Back in 2014, I did a review for Pine Bros Natural Honey Softish Throat Drops. Recently Pine Bros sent me several containers of their Softish Throat Drops for another review. I love when a company contacts me to work with them again! This time I received samples of 3 flavors: Natural Honey, Licorice, and Wild Cherry Flavored (and a cool t-shirt!). As much as I enjoyed the Natural Honey for the first review, I have to admit I like the Licorice and Wild Cherry even more! They taste like candy!

This drops come in backs and small plastic cases. The cases hold 26 drops and the bags hold 32 drops. These drops aid in the relief of dry or sore throats but the active ingredient is just glycerin! This makes these drops gluten free and vegan. These low ingredient drops start out firm but immediately soften to a gummy texture in your mouth. The glycerin works to coat your throat making them beneficial in many situations. I like to keep some in my purse and some on my desk. They are perfect for those moments that you need a sip of water but don't have access to it. I snore and suffer from dry mouth so these drops provide me with some much needed relief.

Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops are available in the cough drop aisle of many stores including Walgreens and Walmart. For a full list check the Pine Bros website. These drops are made in America and have been around since 1870. If you are into natural cures and tried and true remedies, this is your kind of product. Plus they are just charming little drops! They would make great stocking stuffers for grandparents or anyone that does a lot of singing or public speaking. Preachers, teachers, actors and actresses, waiters and waitresses- who couldn't use a throat soothing drop throughout the day especially in cold and flu season? Pick some up and try them yourself....caution...they can be addictive!

Fun Workbook of Logical Thinking

My children have loved products from The Critical Thinking Co. through our whole homeschool journey. Apple was super excited to receive The Basics of Critical Thinking for review. This 146 page workbook is recommended for grades 4-9. It is an introduction to logical thinking.

The workbook begins with a Critical Thinking pretest. It gives clues from from witness statements to try to determine which choice is likely a dog thief. The workbook ends with a similar Critical Thinking posttest. While Apple was able to successfully complete the pretest, there was plenty of information she needed to learn between the two tests.

The lessons cover finding evidence, evaluating evidence, facts vs opinions, advertising, common errors in reasoning, and more. I've always enjoyed products from The Critical Thinking Co. because they really encourage logical thinking. This workbook takes that a step further and really explores methods of using the knowledge they have about a situation to come to a conclusion.

The book covers 20 lessons with activities that take only a few minutes each to complete. You could schedule about one lesson per week and finish up in a semester. Apple plowed through all 20 lessons and both tests in the few weeks we've had it for review. She enjoyed the lessons, and I just let her move at her own pace. She's always seen Critical Thinking workbooks as fun and not as work so it didn't surprise me that she opted to do a couple of lessons at a time.

"I liked the Basics of Critical Thinking book because it was challenging and helped you learn things. It also helped with handwriting and English because it required full sentences for the answers. I really liked the pages that gave you pictures and evidence to find the right person. I thought it was very interesting," said Apple.

Children are great at taking the easy path. My kids will often ask questions when they should really be working on finding the answer on their own. While I encourage them to ask me for help when they need it, I want them to understand and use the process of finding their own answers when possible. I think the lessons in this book really assist in that process. I also think it did a great job of reinforcing what I've tried to teach the kids about advertising and reasoning. While these weren't new concepts for Apple, it is always good to continually have conversations and lessons about making good choices and using solid reasoning.

Now that she is getting older, she is making some choices and decisions on her own. We try to let her choose how to spend her own money and we ask for her input when considering extracurricular activities and some social plans. The section on ads will hopefully help her wisely consider advertising methods before spending money. There is also a lesson on agreements and contracts that I thought was beneficial for her age range. As she gets closer to the age for babysitting or selling homemade goods, she needs to be able to logically consider how to set prices and understand expectations. While this workbook gives just a small taste of each lesson, it is starting her on a path for making wise decisions in the future.

The Critical Thinking Co. offers a variety of workbooks and resources on logical thinking, math, history, and more for grades PreK-12th. I've always found their prices to be very reasonable. In the past, we've enjoyed Editor In Chief and Mind Benders. The Basics of Critical Thinking was another success for us!

See what other Crew members reviewed for The Critical Thinking Co.:

The Critical Thinking Company Review
Connect on Social Media:

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Back to Highland Hall

I so loved Carrie Turansky's first two Highland Hall books that I couldn't wait to receive the third for review. A Refuge at Highland Hall continues the story of Penny Ramsey, niece of Sir William Ramsey the baronet of Highland Hall. Penny has gone to London to assist her sister who is pregnant and also caring for 8 orphans. The stay in London is short lived as bombings begin to take place in the city.

The family all comes back together at the family home and the story really begins. As usual, there are stories of the downstairs servants woven into the tapestry of Penny's tale. There is also a new character in this book, the handsome pilot Alex Goodwin becomes an important piece of Penny's life.

This third installment fully continues the stories of the main characters from The Governess of Highland Hall  and The Daughter of Highland Hall. I enjoyed reading more about Penny and her future. I will say this book contains very many characters. It's a good thing there is a character description at the beginning. This is a sequel that I wouldn't read without reading the first two books. I think you would get lost. I struggled not to get lost, and I've read and reviewed the first two books. While it took a little concentration to follow all the separate stories, I would fully recommend this book. It is a lovely gentle read with a great plot and ending.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Learning through Cooking

We've used cooking to practice following instructions and to work on math but never to learn history until we received Eat Your U.S. History Homework from Ann McCallum Books to review. This hard cover book includes 48 pages of history fun. It gives recipes to go along with early American history lessons. Each recipe has its own little history lesson to read and they are all accompanied by humorous illustrations. 

The recipes use common ingredients and are made just for your tiny chefs. Both of my children love helping in the kitchen so I knew this would be a fun review for us. I let Apple pick the recipe she wanted to try first. She selected Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes. She spends quite a bit of time cooking so she could have easily accomplished these all on her own. I needed pictures so she graciously allowed me to hang out in the kitchen with her. She made them for dinner and we had sausage and eggs to go along with them.

She followed the recipe and took out the 8 ingredients she needed while the griddle warmed up. She mixed it all up on her own and then cooked them. 

They turned out just right! She always feel such a sense of accomplishment when she successfully prepares a meal for us. She read the history lesson aloud while I finished up some other items for our meal. The family all enjoyed the hoe cakes! They were not sweet like pancakes but made for a tasty addition to our brinner. 

Speedy wanted a chance to try a recipe too. He selected Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies. This cookie recipe uses ingredients you've probably got around the house right now. The process was pretty simple and it was a chance to learn some history and some home economics!

First we gathered all 8 ingredients.  The little chef read the instructions and helped with the measuring.

Then he used the mixer for the first time and combined them all. The dough went into the fridge for 10 minutes then we pulled them out to make our cookie balls. Speedy opted to take the job of flattening them with a glass.

Big sister stepped in to help put them into the oven.  The recipe made about 17 cookies, but we made them fairly large. These would be easy to make smaller for a larger quantity.

He was pleased with the results!

We all were! These were some easy to make, very tasty cookies! There was a small discrepancy in this recipe. A couple of the ingredients didn't make it into the step by step instructions. We figured it out easily enough though. We read the history lesson included with this recipe aloud while we enjoyed our dessert. 

Each of the recipes are followed by a little more information and a "side dish" of extra info about the time period. My history lovers have found each lesson very interesting. The book also includes kitchen tips and a history review. The book begins with an introduction that includes a timeline of 1607-1789. The index and glossary are great additions to Eat Your U.S. History Homework. This would be a great resource to use in conjuntion with an early U.S. history course or as a unit study. My kids want to make all 6 recipes! Now if they just wanted to clean the kitchen....

Find out which Ann McCallum books other Crew members reviewed:
Ann McCallum Books Review

Also look for Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum. 

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