Posted by: blessedw4 | November 19, 2013

Writing Lesson

Sometimes I crack myself up. It’s our first week of summer vacation, and I am thinking about next school year already. Of course, if I don’t do it now, then I’ll just forget about it and won’t get it done until the minute before I give them the assignment, and that drives us all crazy.

So, I’m reading the book: Writers, Inc. which I bought this past year on the recommendation of others for teaching writing, and it is very interesting. I am thinking about planning to use it especially for Connor’s writing. He can’t stand to write and so in order to keep the peace, we haven’t done as much writing as we should have. Now since he will be in 6th grade, it’s time to get with it! This book is a reference that helps people probably from 6th grade up, learn to write better.

One of the first principles it teaches is of course, to WRITE. Daily, often, and about anything. I was reading about free-writing today and so that is what I’m trying to do right now. 10 minutes of free writing-just keep going until the time is up. So far, it’s been about 4 minutes, and I’m running out of steam. LOL So, how can I get him to do something I can’t do? Then it says to just keep going and ramble, which is where I think I am now.

I have always enjoyed writing myself, but after having 4 babies, my brain was so full of diapers, feeding, toddler issues, and lack of sleep, that my ideas seemed to just disappear. I’m trying to get them back into order, and this is one way I am going to try to do that. I just can’t seem to be as coherent as I used to be, and that is sad. Just keep going, and going.
Okay, now, what else could I say about freewriting? It’s hard to do it when Maxwell Smart is in the background? He’s so funny-even when I’m not watching the TV, especially when Benjamin starts talking on his shoe too. :o)

Well, it’s been 8 minutes and I’m done. Will try to do better next time.


Interesting note: I just found this on November 19, 2013 and published it today! Yikes! I wrote it in June of 2010! Well, maybe I’ll take another crack at this blogging thing. :o)

Posted by: blessedw4 | May 28, 2011

Apologia: Read for the Heart

Wow, this is my last review for the TOS crew. It has been an amazing year. I think I will try to do a separate post on that entire issue sometime next week. As for tonight, let me get to the good stuff.

As you probably know by now, is not just for science anymore. I have had the privilege and blessing of reviewing three of their resources this year, and this is the third. This book is entitled: Read for the Heart, by Sarah Clarkson. See it here: Read for the Heart. It sells for $17.00.

Read for the Heart 

Apologia says it best: “A great book spurs the imagination in childhood, inspires our dreams in adulthood, and nourishes the soul with depictions of life fully and courageously lived. Among the greatest gifts you can bequeath to a child are a love for reading and a passion for books. But how do you sort through the many thousands of books available to your children to find those that are worthwhile? Apologia has the answer. Keeping Read for the Heart close at hand is like having a children’s librarian for a best friend! Let Sarah Clarkson be your guide to the best in children’s literature for your family. From timeless classics to modern favorites, from picture books to adventure novels to read-aloud favorites, more than 1,000 wonderful stories for young people are recommended within these pages. Now you can make great literature a lasting part of your child’s life and education.”

This wonderful book is written by a young lady who herself was homeschooled and has grown up living what she talks about in the book. She grew up surrounded by good books and parents who loved reading and shared their love with their children-through all kinds of wonderful literature. So, Sarah decides to share her heart with us as she writes a book on books. Read for the Heart is a tremendous resource for anyone looking for excellence and quality in children’s literature. It is well-organized as well and allows the reader to either read cover to cover or to flip to specific chapters on particular subjects. Here are some of the sections she covers: picture books, the Golden Age Classics, Children’s Fiction, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, History and Biography, Spiritual Reading for Children, Poetry, and Music, Art, and Nature. Each chapter has a list of her picks as well as picks from trusted and beloved friends and mentors who have influenced her along the way. She summarizes each title, mentions any possible objectionable issues, and shares why she particularly loves and cherishes certain ones. There are several appendices at the end as well with particular book lists, such as the Caldecott winners and the Newbery winners.

So, how did I use this resource? Well, being a book lover myself, I was enthralled as I read the chapters. I have many, many of the titles she mentions, and that encouraged my heart that I was on a good path with instilling a love of reading in my children. They don’t read as spontaneously as I would like, and there were suggestions listed that inspired me to try some new approaches this summer and beyond to encourage them in reading more. I made many notes and wish lists in each area as well. I am adding many suggestions that Sarah recommends to our list for next year’s curriculum. Most will hopefully come from the inter-library loan that we use, but since I love to own my own copies, I have a feeling our budget will just have to stretch to include more than I thought. :o)

Sarah also helped me reconsider my approach to poetry with my children. I am not a huge fan of this genre, but I still need to expose them to the beauty of it, and have not done a good job of that. So, we’re including several of her suggestions into our summer reading as well. (Just don’t tell my kids yet.) ;o)

I am definitely enjoying my study of this book, and I know you will too. I completely agree with Sarah when she shares that she invites others to create a “reading life” for our children. Oh, that I may do that in our home.

To read what my crewmates thought, click here:


*The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
Posted by: blessedw4 | May 16, 2011

WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press-The Name Says It All!

I was not familiar with Bright Ideas Press before this year on the crew, but believe me, I am so glad I know about them now! After I reviewed their Illuminations product last fall, I began looking at all their other goodies and making a wish list for our next school year. :o) And now, I am thrilled to share with you their newest product: WonderMaps. You can see the introduction to this product right there on the homepage. 

So what exactly is “WonderMaps” anyway? It is an enormous collection of customizable maps: over 350 of them.  Here is a description from the website:

“WonderMaps is designed with easy-to-use layers that allow you to enjoy great customizable features with just a click. Select:

  • historical or modern-day maps
  • outline, reference, political, or topographical maps
  • black-and-white or color maps
  • features including:  names, borders, rivers, cities, physical features, and graticules

WonderMaps includes:

  • 60+ maps of the world
  • 60+ maps of the USA
  • 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps
  • The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II”


This amazing product comes to you on CD and is $49.95. These maps can be integrated with any curriculum and add so much to your study of any time period of history, Bible, and more. There is a video tutorial that helps you get started, and you can access that from BIP’s homepage as well. It is very easy to navigate in the software program once you see how it is set up and the different parts. Here are some screen shots for you:

From the home page of WM itself, you can see that WonderMaps is broken down into 4 main categories: 1) The World Continents, Regions, Nations, 2) The United States of America, 3) Historical Maps, and 4)  Thematic Maps. Each of these 4 categories can also be searched by either an alphabetical index-for parts 1 and 2, or a chronological index for part 3, or a thematic index for part 4. I’ll try to illustrate several of these parts as I share how we are using the maps. We are currently studying in our Bible time the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians. So, I went to the chronological index of historical maps and found a map of Babylon and Persia at the time of Daniel. Once I found the map, I can choose which layers I want on it before I print. There is a list of items to the left side that show you the options, and this is described in the video that I encourage you to watch. (See above) I personally print out the entire map first and we study it and note specific places and regions, and then, as we finish up that topic, I will go in and take out several of the layers, leaving places for my children to fill in the names of the main cities and shade in the area that Babylon ruled at that time. It’s a way for me to “test” their knowledge of that time and place.  I will also do the same as we are getting into Ancient Greece. Another feature that I am loving is in the World Continents section. With those maps, you can choose which topographical layers you want or don’t want. So, for instance, as we study Greece, I go into the map for just Greece and these are the layers: Graticules, Graticule labels, Borders, Country Names, City/Towns, Rivers, River Names, Terrain, and Color Overlay. Each of those is a layer. So, I can choose to include them or not, depending on my goal for that day/lesson. I can also customize each map for each ability level of my children. The possibilities are almost endless!

Also, since BIP is so closely connected with Mystery of History, there is a specific button for MOH, and after you click it, you can choose the volume you are working in, and it will take you to those specific maps! There is also a link for their All American History volumes 1 and 2 as well.

I personally have always loved maps, but have not used them as much as I want to in our schooling. THIS will completely change that! With the ease and variety that WonderMaps has to offer, we can do mapwork with almost any lesson. Also, my oldest will be doing part of MOH 2 next year, and I am so thankful to have a large chunk of his supplementary material right here at our fingertips! And, I can’t wait until we get to American History in 2 years. With so many great resources, I can only imagine all of the activities and fun we will have in our studies. Thank you, BIP, for creating an a product that fascinates and challenges children and adults alike.

To read what my other crewmates think, click here:


*The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
Again, thank you, BIP, and TOS for blessing our family with this amazing product. We will be using it and telling others about it for years to come!
Posted by: blessedw4 | May 4, 2011

Yesterday’s Classics-Amazing!

Are you a book lover? Do you wish your house had a room like in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” when she sees that library? Floor to ceiling-ALL the way around, bookcases. THAT is my dream room! Well, if you can relate just a little bit to my love for books, please read on.
I was so blessed to be on the review for Yesterday’s Classics:!


If you are not familiar with their site, rush right over and check it out. And, here is what they say about themselves:

“Yesterday’s Classics is your headquarters for the best classic literature for children. We republish classic books for children from the golden age of children’s literature, the era from 1880 to 1920. Many of the titles we offer have been out of print for decades and so have been hard to find. Now your children can enjoy these books that delighted generations of children at the beginning of the twentieth century.” Here are a few examples of the books:


They sell these as actual paper books, but they also offer them in electronic formats now-in a huge bundle! You can read their description of this amazing package here:

This is the offer we received in order to review it for you: 225 titles in electronic form-either Kindle or EPUB. All of their amazing, quality children’s literature from past days when this genre was done amazingly well. There is a huge variety in the topics as well: nature, classic stories/nursery rhymes, easy reading for beginning readers, classic stories from Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, other countries, science, stories about famous Americans, stories about the early church, Shakespeare for children, and so much more! Please, click that offer link above and read all of the details-you will be overwhelmed. And, between now and May 31st, Yesterday’s Classics is offering this to you for just $99.99. That is a wonderful savings off of their regular price of $149.99. If you purchased these as actual paper books, you would spend over $2,000.00. And, of course, these don’t take up any shelf space in your house-which my husband loves because we have a very small house. :o)

So, how does it all work, you ask? Well, you have come to the right person, because I was not into e-readers or anything before this review came along. But after I saw it, I began studying/reading up on the Kindle and a bit on the Nook. They seemed easy enough to understand, and so I decided to take the plunge and make a choice. I personally chose the Kindle, but, this is not, again, not a review of which e-reader you should buy. That is completely your choice. YC makes it very easy to use either one; you just have to pick the correct format when you are ordering this download set. If you have the actual Kindle, you choose that download, but, if you have ANY other device, including devices that have Kindle apps, you have to choose the EPUB format. They explain it very well in their offer, and through the website. After you choose and pay, some of your files will be instructions on how to use e-readers and download your books to them. So, for the rest of my review, I am going to talk about using the Kindle format on my PC, since my Kindle is somewhere hiding in our house until Sunday. ;o)

It was incredibly easy to download the books/files into my Kindle app. Again, YC’s file walked me right through it, and in no time at all, I was excitedly reading my first title.

Once I had my books on my device, I started looking them over. The covers are beautifully done-original artwork comes through so well. And, in each title that did have pictures, they are clear and easy to see. I felt like they are beautifully done and keep the old-fashioned look of the original, but it is right there on my computer-the best of both worlds, so to speak. 

And, how am I using them? Well, so far, I have been reading one aloud to my children: “The Odyessy for Children” by Alfred J. Church, which coincides with our history at the moment. And, next week, when my files become portable, I plan on having my youngest, who is in Kindergarten, start with the Primer reader. It has darling pictures and I know he will be eager to read it daily. There are also mid-level readings for my 2nd and 4th grader, and what a joy it will be to hand the Kindle to my 6th grader and say, here, you want to stay up later than the others, choose one of these books to read for an hour. Win-win for both of us there.

There are so many reasons why I am loving this entire set, but one of the main ones, at this moment, is that I am already able to plan specific reading into next year’s curriculum. We will be studying Ancient Rome through the Reformation and I am again, overwhelmed at the wealth of titles that belong between those two time periods. YC has saved me a bundle on time and money searching and collecting quality reading materials for my family for next year. I am beyond thankful for that.

And, now, lest you non-homeschooling families think that these would not be for you, please think again. Classic, quality children’s books are for everyone! You can have, at your fingertips, wonderful stories for your own children, at any time-anywhere. Take them to doctor’s appointments, while you wait in line at the driver’s license office, on long car trips, and on vacation so that you and your family always have stories to share together. What great memories you will make-and those are absolutely priceless.

Thank you, Yesterday’s Classics for providing my family with this wonderful compilation of literature; we will use and enjoy them for years to come!

To see what my crewmates thought as well, click here:

Disclaimer: I received this material free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion. No other compensation was received.

Posted by: blessedw4 | April 28, 2011

Writing Tales-A Review

Once upon a time there was a queen who homeschooled her 4 precious children: 3 princes, and one princess. As she was always searching for wonderful curriculum for them, she seemed to have a few areas where she struggled to find something that worked for her as well as the children. One of those areas was writing. She personally loved to write, but somehow, it was difficult to get her little “darlings” to enjoy as much as she did. But then, one day, along came a program, that was dropped in her lap-almost out of the blue. It was called Writing Tales. It took a classic story, fairy tale, or fable, and through several gentle lessons, led the children to re-write it and make it their own. And, along the way, it taught them other language arts skills: grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling, and more.  And, as they began to use these wonderful materials, she began to see some of her children expand their interest and abilities in writing-how thrilling for her! She was so thankful, since as she was trying to always serve her KING to the best of her abilities, she was glad to have found something new that all in her land could enjoy. And so her own tale ends here, with a retelling of a story. (Or, does it really just begin another journey of writing more wonderful “tales?”)

I hope you can see through my cute little story above, some of what this wonderful curriculum, Writing Tales is about. You can find them here: and read more about it from the creator, Amy Olsen.

So, what is “Writing Tales”? you ask? I think I’ll let Amy tell you in her words:

“Based on the first level of the ancient progymnasmata writing exercises used by the Greeks, Writing Tales teaches grammar level students how to write by studying and re-writing classic tales and fables. Extremely user-friendly, the Teacher’s Guides include day-to-day lesson plans for homeschoolers as well as lesson plans for co-operatives. The Student Workbooks take your child through in-depth studies of 15 different fables and fairy tales, and guide them through the process of re-writing each story in their own words. Because of the nature of the classical approach and the thorough study and analysis done of each story, plenty of practice is included in grammar, copywork, spelling, and vocabulary, making Writing Tales a fully comprehensive writing curriculum.”

As a crew member, I received both books for each set, Levels 1 and 2.

Level 1 is for approximately 3rd-4th graders and is a comprehensive writing curriculum, done in the classical style, that also includes handwriting, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. The teacher’s guide for Level 1 sells for $24.95

and the student workbook sells for $19.95.

The teacher’s guide is full of valuable lesson plans for a homeschooler and for co-op classes. There are 318 pages in the teacher’s guide and it is meant to be used along side the student workbook. The student book has 188 pages and is consumable.

Level 2 is written for mid to upper level grammar students, around 4th-5th grades, and has the same format: it integrates spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and handwriting along with the writing components. Again, there is a teacher’s guide which sells for $32.95


and a student guide which sells for $24.95


To read the details of how the program works, click here: The goal in each section, is ultimately to retell a classic story or fable in the student’s own words, but with the complete meaning intact. Along the way, there are specific lessons interspersed with the story telling components. Again, Amy Olsen explains it very well at the link above.

So, what did we think? Well, I used Level 1 with my 2nd grade daughter, and Level 2 with my 4th grade son. I’ll start with our Level 1 experience. My daughter has had some language arts instruction, and the first lessons were not too difficult for her. She was able to review types of sentences, what makes a complete sentence, and other early grammar concepts with little trouble. She is enjoying the fables, as well as I; it is extra fun for us since we are studying Ancient Greece in our history/Bible curriculum right now, and so the fables of course go well with that. Also, she enjoys the format of the lessons. They are not too long or overwhelming for her, and she is doing well on all the parts, except the actual retelling. She does well orally, but putting pencil to paper is a bit challenging, so we are writing the stories together, as is suggested in the Teacher’s Guide, and that is working well. We will probably stop in the next few weeks and pick up the rest again in August, when she starts 3rd grade. As for this being a complete language arts curriculum, I agree with that for this young age. As we go along in the book, I can see that she will be exposed to many skills and topics in an interesting way.

My 4th grader, who is doing Level 2 is having mixed results. He has had some basic grammar since last year, and is doing well with that part, but spelling and the actual writing are the challenges for him. He struggles quite a bit with spelling and does not like the fact that he is missing many words as he writes his rough drafts. However, that does not actually have any bearing on the content of the material; it’s just a challenge for me. I like integrating the spelling words into the student’s writing; that way they are actually using the words themselves, and as those become their spelling words, they see the need to spell them correctly. I do however, probably my public school background, do also like spelling lists that emphasize specific spelling sounds and skills. I think there is a time and place for both, but of course, as this is a classical method, not everyone would want to or feel the need to do both.  I do also like the way the other skills go along with the story of the section. This method takes different language and writing skills and instead of breaking them down into fragmented parts, it combines them and places them in context of the actual tale-or story. Perhaps a better way to show you is for you to check out some samples:

We have not made it very far yet, in Level 2, but I can already see improvement in his writing of the stories. I again am modifying how much he actually has to hold the pencil and do the physical writing himself; he dictates about half of it to me and then he writes the other half, but I can see how his summaries are getting better and how he is finding his own words to retell, instead of quoting from the tale itself. Sometimes I forget that learning to write is a relatively slow process; when I do remember to slow down and not push, he is feeling more confident in his abilities.  Also, part of Level 2’s lessons are that after the first retelling, the second time the student is able to add some small unique details, as long as they don’t add or take away from the original story’s meaning. This feature allows the children to take ownership of their own tale and brings more enjoyment. I am looking forward to continuing this level with my son next year as well.

Just one more thought, from someone who is not a strict classicalist, by any means. I personally am going to keep our specific grammar program as well; I feel that there needs to be more formal grammar instruction by 5th grade, and so we will supplement.

Overall? I am thrilled with these books! I am so thankful that I was able to be on this review. As I stated at the beginning in my story, I have been searching for something like this, and really not even knowing what I was looking for. I think each of my children will be thrilled when we’re finished with their books and they can see their 15 fairy tales/fables that they have written. I am hoping that this will spark them on to more enjoyment in their writing in all subjects.

To see what my crewmates had to say about Writing Tales, click here:


*The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*



Posted by: blessedw4 | April 11, 2011

Science Weekly Review-The Flu

Ever need some new, exciting science ideas for your children? Well, if you do, then you’ll want to check out

Science Weekly has been around for a long time, but now, with all this wonderful technology, they can offer so much more! They offer a subscription to monthly “flyers”/short magazines, that come in 6 different levels: Pre K-K(Level Pre-A), through 5th/6th, Level E. As a subscriber, you receive 15 different issues throughout the year, in the levels you specify. And, what child doesn’t like to receive mail? Each issue covers a certain topic and gives you lessons/activities for about a week. Each level is very nicely done, on grade level and holds the children’s interest well.

We received all the levels for the topic: “the flu.” We also received a teacher’s guide. Since I have 4 children, we were able to use 4 of the 5 levels. The youngest two had tons of fun-especially with the experiment of “germs.” :o) They both learned a great deal from their issues, and would love to get more. Scientist, my 4th grader, who loves science, also enjoyed his issue. He learned new vocabulary words, did his experiment, and did a brief write-up of the lab work; a great intro to older level science. And, PT, of course did his on his own, and seemed to enjoy it as well.

Here are some more details for you:

Here is the pricing structure for you: for individuals: 15 issues for one student are $19.95. For classrooms: if you buy 20 or more, you receive each one for $4.95. You can see all the details here: 

I am so sorry to say, that this pricing structure is not a positive for our family. With 4 children, we would need 4 different levels, and that is just not cost effective for us. I am very disappointed too, because I have loved these! I am not the best science mom, and I can see the potential of these booklets; we could do a different topic each time it comes and then in between, we could go deeper and branch off into related topics. I hope that SW will consider modifying their pricing so that it would be more affordable for homeschooling families.

I do want to end positively, though, and tell you that they offer several FREE interactive issues online, and there are several topics you can download for free also. We took advantage of that when we were studying pyramids, and had lots of fun with those, so please be sure to check them out. :o)

To see the other topics my crewmates received, click here:

*The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
Posted by: blessedw4 | April 2, 2011

Zeezok Publishing-ZGuides to the Movies-Review

What’s your all time, favorite movie? I think mine is The Sound of Music, or Star Wars: THE original.  Whatever yours may be, can’t you just see scenes of it right now in your mind? And, I know you can quote many of its lines. Just the thought of a good movie gives us all good feelings. Well, many times in homeschooling, we use movies to enrich and supplement our curriculum and our subject of study. Well, with so many out there, who has time to watch all of them and decide which ones would be beneficial to our studies at that time? Also, even if we have seen it, we don’t all have time to write up questions and vocabulary and other goodies to enhance our viewing of them for learning purposes, do we?
If any of this sounds interesting to you, I’ve got a wonderful, new to me, resource to share with you. It’s otherwise known as Zeezok Publishing.


We were given the chance to choose a movie from their current list and we received a movie ZGuide that goes along with it: ZGuide to the Movies

So, what is a ZGuide, you ask? It’s a fun and thorough unit study guide that correlates to a specific movie. For just $12.99, you receive a pdf file of goodies, approx. 30+ pages of vocabulary, comprehension questions, family discussions, project ideas and more, all based around the themes in the movie. So, if you don’t already own the movie you’re interested in, you can purchase it through Zeezok, or you can just pop over to Netflix, (all their guides are for movies that are available there) and either instantly play or have it delivered to you, grab some popcorn, and settle in for some fun and learning, all rolled into one. Can’t beat that for school, can you? :o)

Now, back to the guides. Each one includes:

  • Topic Overview – gives the student with no prior experience in the historical setting of the movie  basic background knowledge. 
  •  Movie Synopsis – This is a full page that gives you a more detailed summary of the movie. It does contain spoilers, so be aware of that when deciding if you want the student to read this before or after watching the movie.
  • 10 Learning Activities – These cover a range of learning styles and activities, but every ZGuide includes movie review questions as one activity, which turns watching the movie into an active, participatory event.  Students are encouraged to answer the questions as they go along, to ensure that they are actively learning. An answer key is included.
  • A suggested 5 day plan that helps you organize and layout your plan for the unit study.
  • These movie guides are geared to middle or high school students, but parts of them can be adapted to younger siblings; the family discussions for example. Although, that may not work with every movie since some of the content is just too old for younger children, in my opinion.

    And, there is a wide variety of time periods to choose from. You can go from Ancient Persia and the Old Testament, to Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, Colonial America, The Great Depression, WWI and WWII, and modern times. Or, you can choose based on character themes, such as honesty, hard work, civil disobedience, discrimination, conquering fear, and many more.  Click here to see all the titles and read the summaries:

    I chose Jason and the Argonauts because we are studying Ancient Greece as part of our history. It said it was for high school, but I thought I could adapt it for my very advanced sixth grader. He, of course, being 12, was not thrilled with the “old” animation. He is so used to the new special effects in movies, like the Narnia series, that he had issues with that. Of course, that is just one of his PT issues-it didn’t affect the movie at all nor the use of the guide. :o) I did have to skip some scenes for him-involving the lady, but I would have been fine with watching it with him if he were older. I was very happy with the idea of answering the review questions as we watched; it kept him focused and he was able to notice many more details and followed the story line well. They were all doable for him as well, and led to some nice discussions. We didn’t use very many of the other activities, though, because again, of his age. I can see that they would have been of great value for a high schooler, or even an advanced middle schooler. They were challenging but doable, and very though provoking. I especially liked the creative writing assignment which had Jason and the Argonauts meet King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. That would have been quite fun and we may do it next year when we get to medieval history ourselves. I thought the “What if?” activity was nice too; we did that one orally. And, I am very glad the worldview activities are there. We discussed those orally as well, and they were a great way to help continue to develop my son’s Christian worldview. I am looking forward to using more of these guides as we get to different places in history. I can’t wait to watch Ben-Hur next year, after I make him read the book, of course! :o)

    Thank you, Zeezok, for offering these great guides to the movies!

    To read what my crewmates thought about the movies they reviewed, click here:


    *The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
    Posted by: blessedw4 | March 30, 2011

    Classical Academic Press: Song School Latin

    Salve! Quid agis? Sum optime! Just in case you don’t know what I said, let me share with you. I said, “Hello, how are you doing?” “I am doing great!”  And, I said it in Latin. Latin! Yes, I know, just saying the word used to scare me too, so, when we offered a review of Latin products, I hesitated at first. But, since we will be studying Ancient Rome next year, I decided to give it a try with my youngest-since that was by far the easiest course. :o) So, with a bit of trepidation, we chose to review Song School Latin, from Classical Academic Press.
    Photobucket  Now, I will say that I do not particularly follow a Charlotte Mason or classical education approach, although I do like many things about them, but they just aren’t a super great fit for our family. However, I do completely believe in learning as much as we can about things that are relevant to our lives, and I believe that Latin is very relevant.  Just look at all our English words that derive from Latin. And, so much of our culture that comes from the Romans. I could go on, but suffice it to say, I was very willing to give Latin a good try-and oh, am I glad we did!
    Now, let me tell you a bit about Song School Latin  
     It is geared for younger students, approximately K-3rd grade and, I just have to quote from their website:
    “Did you ever believe that there would be a Latin program that would match the energy, developmental level, and fun loving nature of primary students? Song School Latin is a gentle and delightful introduction to Latin. Each weekly lesson is peppered with songs, illustrations, hand-writing practice, stories and activities for easy mastery and memorization. Learn over a hundred engaging everyday Latin vocabulary words for the seasons, body parts, food, animals and common greetings. A lively musical CD is a delightful piece of the program and comes in the back in each student text. As an ideal introduction to the language, Song School Latin will more than prepare a student to begin a grammar school program such as Latin for Children. Come join the fun!”
    And, I agree with them 100%!  We received the Teacher’s Manual, student book, which includes the CD, and a partial set of their special cards for the card game. I started this with my three youngest, although Scientist is now 10 and in 4th grade. His grammar not very strong, and he loves music and catchy tunes, so I guessed that he would enjoy it as well. (He has!) All three of my children just love, love SSL! They eagerly ask for it each day, and that does not happen with any of our other subjects. ;o) There is a suggested pace given in the Teacher’s Manual, but we are just going at our own pace. We probably spend about a week on each lesson. One of my favorite parts of this program is that all three of my children will just randomly start singing the songs during the day. (Okay, actually, I have done that a few times too.) We are really feeling comfortable with Latin now and are eager to continue on in our book. I also like the easy activities in the student book. They are easy enough for my Kindergartener, but not too easy for my 2nd grader.   So far we have learned how to say: hello, good-bye, teacher-male and female, how are you? I am doing: fine, terrible, sad, scared, and great, father, mother, sister, brother, and we are now on “girl, boy, man, and woman.” We are also thankful for the supplementary coloring pages. You can view those here:
    We are planning on slowing down a bit for the end of the year, but picking back up in August when we start the next school year. I may purchase an additional student book so my youngest can have his own. He is just now beginning to like copying and writing on his own, so it would be a perfect time for him.  
    And, here is a link to their free resources page for all the programs:
    They also have 2 other levels of Latin: Latin for Children, for grades 2-6, and Latin Alive! which is for 7th and up. Different crew members reviewed the different levels, and I am excited to see what was said about the other two programs. I am going to seriously consider them for next year. And, if that’s not enough, CAP offers other great products in addition to Latin. Click here to see some of those:
    So, to sum up: the Teacher’s Manual and Student workbook, with CD, each cost $22.95. If you’d like the Latin Monkey Match card game, it’s $24.95, or you can purchase the entire set for the bundle price of $64.95. Click here to read more about each:  For a great price you can start your youngsters off on an exciting road to learning another language in an easy and creative way, and after they are “hooked” you can move up into even more. Who knows, one day even we moms may be Latin scholars! Thank you, CAP, for finding and offering some wonderful products to teach a difficult subject. We have been thoroughly blessed!
    To see what my TOS crewmates thought of each program, click here:
    Disclaimer:  *The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
    Posted by: blessedw4 | March 27, 2011

    Big IQ Kids-A Review

    Well, in the midst of husband with two jobs, and two boys with birthdays this week, and those rapidly diminishing brain cells, I am late on this review. My sincere apologies to the Big IQ Kids people.

    So, what is Big IQ Kids, you ask? Well, let’s start here:


     This is an interactive site that helps your child in many different areas: spelling, vocabulary, US states, and math. Here’s their slogan: “Helping Kids Become and Stay A+ Students!” Each subject has different levels and they are also customizable. You can put in your own vocabulary and spelling for your child/student to practice. As a TOS Crew member, we received a one year premium subscription, but there is a free one that you can check out first. Click here to see the differences in the  two:
    Children are highly encouraged to do the lessons daily; that helps with reinforcement and builds mastery of skills.

    You can also watch a video about the different features here:

    Here are some screen shots from the different parts as well:

    Big IQ Kids Spelling Bee

    This shot is from the spelling section. The program has over 40,000 words in it, but parents/teachers can also customize the lists and the program will create lessons and tests specifically for the words you choose as well.

    Big IQ Kids Math

    Here’s Math: The program can be set up to go with standard grade level topics or with specfic areas of practice for your particular student. It is very extensive drill and practice for those who need it in a fun, colorful format.

    Big IQ Kids Vocab

    Here’s vocabulary: again, the program is loaded with a large number of standard words, from elementary grades through SAT prep words, or parents can customize the lessons to suit their particular needs.

    Big IQ Kids States

    And, US States.  Students study one state at a time and are quizzed on basic facts and other interesting things about it.

    After each lesson is completed in any section satisfactorily, the student earns reward coins which can be redeemed by playing games.

    Pricing varies but two options are: monthly: $19.99, and a 12 month membership is $99.99. You can also just sign up for a premium in one particular section as well. To read all about pricing, click here: 

    The age range is elementary on up, since it is customizable.

    Now, how did we use this? Scientist, who is in 4th grade, really enjoyed the US States the best. We are not currently studying US geography, so he was very interested in learning about the states-especially the unique things from each one. He also did the math quite often, but wasn’t thrilled with the repetition. The lessons were longer than the ones I have him do on paper, and that caused a bit of a problem, but I did see progress in his skills, so that was positive for me. Unfortunately, we were unable to access spelling or vocabulary due to our dial-up internet,  but he did also really enjoy the games he was able to play.

    Little Mommy, who is in 2nd grade, concentrated on math, since that is her weakest subject at the time. Again, it was a bit long for her, but she did see herself improve, and she enjoyed the rewards as well.

    Overall, this program is not a great fit for us at this time. Mostly because of our slow internet. Also, though, I am not one to be comfortable with my children doing so much of their school work on the computer. I do like it for extra practice and think it would be great for children who love computer games and need extra practice in certain subjects. I would have loved having access to this when I taught public school! I would have highly recommened it to families for my struggling students. In fact, I will recommend it to my current public school friends whose children are in need of some extra help.

    Again, we are enjoying the parts of BigIQKids that we can and we are thankful to have an opportunity to try new things.


    *The author’s honest review and opinions are entirely her own. This product was provided to the author for free as a member of the 2010-2011 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*
    Posted by: blessedw4 | March 16, 2011

    Apologia: Who Is God?

    What kind of worldview do your children have? Do you even know what your own worldview is? Well, in this world of upheaval and unrest, it is imperative that we know and teach our children from a biblical worldview-a lens through which we view everything that goes on in the world. And, to help you, us, in that challenge, Apologia Educational Ministries:  has added some wonderful, new books to their already fabulous selection of curriculum and helps for Christian families.

    This new series:  What We Believe, is an evangelical, Christian perspective on the importance of teaching our children God’s view of the world to children ages 6-14, but it can be adapted for older students as well, I think. But, let me let them tell you about it:

    ” Our children are bombarded on a daily basis with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas—ideas about truth, morality, beauty, identity, faith, and more. Not all of these ideas are true. Some are wrong, some are deceptive, and some are outright destructive. It is more important than ever that young children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth. This is why Apologia has teamed with Summit Ministries to bring you the “What We Believe” Series. The “What We Believe” Series is an outstanding way to teach your child the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but it’s so much more! With this student-directed, Bible-based curriculum, your children will learn how to use Scripture as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it—and know the truth.”

    We received the first book in it: Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him?

    Click here: Sample Lesson to view a lesson, and you can  see the Table Of Contents here. 

    COMING SOON: details on how the book is broken down into lessons and sections.

    How did we use it, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. I had PT do the lessons on his own. He is in that stage where he doesn’t want to interact with the younger siblings much, so in the interest of peace, I allowed that. After he finished an entire lesson, I would have him discuss it with me. And the other three and I are doing them together. We are not going through it as quickly as they suggest, but again, that is the beauty of homeschooling-flexibility. We read and discuss as we go along, and they are enjoying it. The notebooking pages are not a good fit for them, but I saw in the Apologia catalog that I received a few days ago, that they are going to offer another notebooking product and a coloring book, and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing those. I think especially my younger two will enjoy the coloring book. I do plan on having my 10 year old do some more writing-notebooking type of thing with it after Spring Break; he needs a way to express what he is learning, and they have extra pages you can access that help with that.

    This wonderful book sells for $39 and, and I want to mention that the second one in the series: Who Am I? is also available now. Stay tuned for the 3rd: Who Is My Brother? and the 4th: What Can I Do? soon. Also, I received a catalog in the mail this past week and Apologia is going to be offering notebooks and coloring books for Who Is God? soon. Yay; since we are not very far along, I am planning on purchasing those to add to my children’s experience. To find out what my other crewmates thought, please click here:

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my informed, honest review and opinions. No other compensation was given or received.

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