Friday, July 31, 2015

Using the Bible as our Core for Home School

I am running late in home school planning this year, which is fine since God had me do a 180 in our studies for the upcoming year. I always pray about what He will have us do with our schooling for the year. Reviewing wonderful curriculum and books gives me such a vast amount of resources to use, and there is no way I can get through all of them to completion. I definitely want to share with you the ones that we are working with this coming year so you know that they were ones we really clicked with enough to keep going!

By doing a 180, God is having us use the Bible as our core this year. Typically we have the 6 subjects, and we still will.. but the Bible will infiltrate all of them. We are starting Old Testament and will be reading together each morning. I was so blessed to find a curriculum Bible Road Trip that is FREE.. yes, you read that right FREE. Now I loved it so incredibly much, and couldn't believe she would do all that work for free, so I chose the option to purchase the instant download for $20. Still an awesome deal. I don't feel versed enough in Old Testament History and this is going to be the spine for our studies.

It has an excellent set up and works for all ages. We will be using the Upper Grammar for the most part with my 2nd, 5th and 8th grader. Easing up on the 2nd grader with some of the writing projects. With my 11th grader we will use the Dialectic group as he that seemed to fit in better with our needs. I am printing out the notebooking pages as we go, which again are offered FREE!

Additional Books we got for supplementing the reading material

What the Bible Is All About Handbook for Kids: Bible Handbook for Kids
Reproducible Maps, Charts, Timelines and Illustrations

There is a heavy focus on missions in Bible Road Trip, which is one reason we loved it. We will be focusing on specific missionaries also as they may relate to the area of the world that we are studying. So the Bible is having us read the word, and understand how there are so many people groups who still need to hear about Jesus Christ. Our mission emphasis will try to go along with what is suggested in Bible Road Trip as well as adding other missionaries we have been wanting to learn about.Some excellent books we bought for Missions study were

Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation (Operation World Set)
Window on the World: When We Pray God Works
(affiliate links)

I already had a few books in my collection that will fit in great as well. I am sure as I continue to browse my shelves there will be more, but for today.. here are the ones I found.

Prayers That Changed History: From Christopher Columbus to Helen Keller, how God used 25 people to change the world

Missionary Stories With the Millers (Miller Family)

Tales of the Not Forgotten (Storyweaver)

Tales of the Defended Ones (Storyweaver)

(affiliate links)

We are going to be utilizing the missions emphasis and dive into some more Geography and country studies this year. Another program we used last year that I downloaded was Expedition Earth.

We will continue to use that for lapbooking some of the countries. And some of our other lapbook supplies will come from Homeschool Share. You must check out this site and search for a huge selection of FREE lapbooking supplies and other great studies. We use it every single year. I also have several books on maps both Bible times and now that will help us in both the Geography and History components.

To add to our History component of the Old Testament I bought Homeschool in the Woods Old Testament Activity Pak. This will give the younger kids some more hands on activities to reinforce what we are learning in the Word.

My older son, 11th grade needs something a bit more 'meaty' for history so we are going to be using Ancient Civilizations & The Bible along with the CD set. My second son used this series for one of his classes and really loved it. It is a great way to dig in a little deeper to Ancient History.

So there we have Bible, Geography, Mission Studies and History. Of course other of our basics will flow from this as well like Reading, Creative Writing, and Spelling.
It is so awesome to have the Bible as our core and to bring all of our other school from that. I am really excited about getting my plan all done. I love Homeschool Planet that I review earlier this year, and am feeling totally on the ball organized for the first time in like forever!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UnLock Math *Review #homeschool

Unlock Math Review

UnLock Math is like bringing the math teacher right into your own home. No need for Mom or Dad to go through the lesson and try to stay one step ahead of the student. With UnLock Math Alesia Blackwood gets your kids excited about math again!
My 8th grader isn't a huge fan of math. He will do it, but typically with my sitting right by his side and going through it with him. With younger kids to teach, that was really difficult last year. We started UnLock Pre-Algebra this summer for review and I was able to get him set up and leave! I let Alesia do her thing and I was just there to tell him how many sections I wanted him to do.

Alesia is an excellent teacher. We do have some math programs that come with a supplemental CD you can purchase, and those math teachers are so dull. I am not kidding, they went out and purposely found stereotypical math teachers. Alesia is anything but that! Young, fun and excited about  Math she takes each section and goes through each part systematically and thoroughly.

Unlock Math Review
You go to the Dashboard and click on the section you want to use, then go and click on the rocket. It then takes you to the smallest inset screen above where the student starts with a warm up, then watches the video. After the video is practice problems, a review, and a challenge.
Canyon did have me help him with the challenge portion, and that was probably his least favorite part. Once he got to that point he wasn't overly interested in learning about critical thinking in math. I however always loved those type of problems as a kid!

You do not have to finish a section before going on to the next. That was great for us, as sometimes Canyon didn't want to do the Challenge question and I still wanted him to move on. It doesn't show that all the sections are complete unless you do them all, but you can work out of sequence if you choose.

Unlock Math Review

The also have Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 in the same style. What an excellent way to have the kids learn Algebra without Mom having to be stressed out!

Canyon loved the huge white board that Alesia used and wanted to figure out how she did that! She was able to write and erase and it all looked so crisp and clear. His little engineer mind was curious about the technology.

If you have questions or need help, UnLock Math is very easy to get ahold of. They sent me a couple emails during the review time to check in and that was really helpful.

The pacing guide was very helpful in knowing how much Canyon should do each day. It was easy to add more on in the beginning of the lessons as they were more of a review for him. I didn't want to do too much and overwhelm him. The pacing guide helps give you an idea of how long each unit should take to get through. I am using this guide to preschedule what he will be doing when we start back up with school in a couple of weeks.

We will be finishing UnLock Math Pre Algebra with Canyon for this school year. I find that it really is the best fit for him to have a teacher, and have the opportunity to move through the sections at his ease.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson *Review

About the Book
When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.
Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

 My Thoughts

I LOVED this book! I just love when an author can weave history and contemporary stories together and have that fine link between the two that we are trying to discover. I love the intrigue and mystery behind it. I love historical fiction to help me be zipped back in time. They have always been a favorite of mine. The setting of the English countryside made me want to go and visit.
 I really liked that Heather was 'older' as the main character. She had been divorced and her daughter recently married. I loved that she returned and there was her 'first love', who just happened to be widowed. Can't beat a great love story, mystery and fantastic pictures of a small town to make for a splendid read! I actually plan to read it again, as I read it almost too quickly the first time and didn't want it to end!

About the Author

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of 14 historical romance, suspense and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010.
Dobson received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. She worked in publicity and journalism for more than 15 years, including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel. Prior to launching her own public relations company in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family.
Dobson and her husband, Jon, enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest with their two daughters. When she isn’t writing or playing with her family, Dobson enjoys exploring ghost towns, line dancing and reading historical fiction.
To keep up with Melanie Dobson, visit, become a fan on Facebook (Melanie-Dobson) or follow her on Twitter (@MelBDobson).

 See other reviews HERE

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All Around this World: Africa *Review

All Around this World  helps kids and their families explore various cultures through music.

From the Website
"The All Around This World Africa Double CD set featuring 32 of your favorite family-friendly African songs is now available for your purchasing pleasure. I mean, not just available like “you have to come to music class in Philadelphia to pick one up,” but available like, YOU CAN ORDER ONLINE! At this moment the physical CD is only available on the CD Baby website ($18.99 plus shipping) but very soon you’ll be able to buy it through Amazon and other online retailers. You can also buy either of the two CDs individually — West, Central and South, and North and East, as digital downloads ($9). 
Why buy a physical CD instead of just ordering digital downloads? I’m glad you asked! The double CD set comes with cool exclusive album art that includes perks like musician credits, lyrics, and a really cool little version of the AATW: Africa African musical map that shows you where the songs on the CD originated."

This is an awesome bonus! I love having the kids listen to a song and see exactly where it originated.

 All Around this World Africa takes a look at music from all regions of the continent. I love how it is divided up and the sounds are unique in each area. When we think of Africa we tend to lump it all together as one place. Each country is unique and distinct and the African music and instruments show that.

This is great for homeschoolers as well as in the classroom.We plan on studying a different country each month. We will hopefully hit on a couple countries in Africa, in different parts of the continent. We will definitely be utilizing Around the World Africa for our music!

The All Around This World Facebook page also features regular updates and cultural activity ideas relating to the music:

 Help make the world much smaller by supporting the “1000 Classroom Campaign” to launch “Explore Everywhere,” Around This World’s ambitious new global music and world cultures online learning program for kids and their families. “Explore Everywhere” will give kids ANYWHERE, from all economic backgrounds, unlimited online access to inspiring global music and engaging multicultural lessons that will help them open their minds, and their lives, to “the great out there.”

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Thriving in Babylon by Larry Osborne *Review & Giveaway

 (Enter to win a copy by leaving a comment on the review below)

 Meet a man forced to live in a fast changing and godless society. He faced fears about the future, concern for his safety, and the discouragement of world that seemed to be falling apart at warp speed.

Sound familiar? His name was Daniel, and with the power of hope, humility, and wisdom, he not only thrived, he changed an empire while he was at it. Though he lived thousands of years ago, he has a much to teach us today.

Even in Babylon, God is in control.

In Thriving in Babylon, Larry Osborne explores the "adult" story of Daniel to help us not only survive - but actually thrive in an increasingly godless culture. Here Pastor Osborne looks at:

-Why panic and despair are never from God
-What true optimism looks like
-How humility disarms even our greatest of enemies
-Why respect causes even those who will have nothing to do with God to listen
-How wisdom can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat
For those who know Jesus and understand the full implications of the cross, the resurrection, and the promises of Jesus, everything changes---not only in us, but also in our world.

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts:

For the time and place we live now, this book is an outstanding example for us. Daniel really lived in about the worst time and place ever. Though we are heading that direction, we are still free to worship, and read the Word. Daniel had so much to overcome and he was able to do it by realizing that God had his hand in everything. Clearly seeing this was "the foundation upon which his hope, humility, and wisdom rested." 

The book takes a look of these components of Daniel.. Hope, Humility, and Wisdom. Looking at how Daniel handled situations in the fallen world, and utilizing him as an example for how we are to live similarly. 

I have high lights galore in this book! Such a great look at how we should be responding to the things going on around us now. The world is getting darker, but our light is still to shine. 

Daniel's hope had nothing to do with wishful thinking, it instead relied on his knowledge of God and how he knew that God was in control. We have the book of Revelation, we know how the story ends! We win, and Satin and his demons are cast into the lake of fire. That gives us hope and joy. 

Daniel also had humility. He had self esteem, was ambitious, and served others. Daniel had to be respectful of one of the worst kings ever, because God commanded him to. Daniel wasn't in it for the short term, he was interested in following God to the end. 

Widsom is rooted in the fear of the Lord for Daniel. He also understood that godless people lived godless lives. 

Excellent book on many levels and it will be a great read for those feeling at a loss in our world.. Babylon.

About the author:

Dr. Larry Osborne has served as a senior pastor and teaching pastor at North Coast Church---one of the ten most influential churches in the country---since 1980. Dr. Osborne is the author of numerous books, including Accidental Pharisees. He and his wife live in Oceanside, California. They have three grown children.

Find Larry online: website, Facebook, Twitter
Check out the other reviews HERE 
 Leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy! Ends August 4th. US only

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages *Review #Tos

Home School in the Woods Review

History and I aren't the best of friends. Maybe because I grew up in the time of history being an old teacher reading a dry, boring text book.. picture Charlie Brown listening to his teacher. All I remember is whaaaa, waaa, wuuu, wuu, wa!

I so want to make history fun for my kids and quite frankly myself. If it is boring I am pretty sure I will skip it. Just being honest. When time gets busy, the most boring things go first.

Home School in the Woods Review

Home School in the Woods has a outstanding history program called Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages. There is also Ancient Egypt, and Renaissance and Reformation.

This product is a digital download, or you can purchase it on CD. Both Mac and PC compatible.

So much more than lapbooking! This History program gets you right in the thick of learning, and having fun while doing it. Middle Ages has 25 Stops along our journey. You move through each Stop at different paces. The first few take a little longer as you get your binder and time line set up. You will be printing quite a bit the first few stops so make sure to get a new ink cartridge before you start!
Also be sure to check out the introduction, travel trips and additional resources to find out a wealth of information before you get started. There is a little preplanning involved and this is a great place to find some of those things.. like an ink cartridge!

Stop #1 took us several days. Just so you don't get scared off. We had a lot to do with printing out time line figures, passport, a medieval newspaper, and more. You are basically getting prepped for the other starts so think of it as getting all of your luggage and paperwork in order before you travel. Since we are more in a summer mode right now, we were able to take a little more time when we sat down to study the Middle Ages. In a typical school day I don't think we would have got nearly as much done. I love that you can easily stop and start based on what your schedule is.

You continue to lay a 'foundation' through Stop #3. Loads of fun making postcards, maps, and putting the historical figures on our timeline. We chose to just do one timeline rather than 3, for ease on my printer. I used this with my 7, 10 and 13 year old together. We also just had one medieval newspaper and took turns writing articles (like a real newspaper). I did have the kids do their own postcards and maps though and we kept them all in their 3 ring notebook. I suggest you get one for each child to keep all of their supplies. There are many papers in this program and you will want a way to secure everything.

The guide uses icons to let you know when their is a sample picture you can look at, when to use your newspaper, and snapshot moments. It is very well organized and once you get all of the foundations down you really can work through it efficiently.
I love that there are crafts for several of the stops. My kids love the crafts! I looked ahead so that I could find some of the supplies, like Marzipan, and green felt. Easy to find things that if you look ahead, can be prepared for.

Each stop has a Guide Book Text where you can read about your stop, set the stage so to speak for the upcoming projects. I love that I don't have to research anything, simply read it to the kids.
After we do the Guide Book we look over the Travel Itinerary which is where the meat of the study is. All of our lap books, newspaper articles, crafts, lessons are here. This is a good section to print out and put in your teacher binder. It also tells you which things you need to print and use for this Stop. There are links for each print out you need and they are labeled to make it easy to find them.

Some of the Stops have an audio portion that you can listen to. These are really fun and add another dimension to learning! Great to listen to and you can download them and put them on your mp3 player.

Absolutely outstanding program! The kids and I loved it. We will complete this study and then be back for more from Home School in the Woods. It works for us on so many levels and with a variety of ages. I can't ask for anything more!

Get a sample download of one stop in the Middle Ages HERE and try it for yourself.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Homeschool Planet Online Planner *Review

Homeschool Planet Review

Homeschool Buyers Co-op has given me access to Homeschool Planet for a year of planning. I love to plan. I love paper planners, fun pens, filling in all the spaces, making sure everything lines up and looks perfect for our school year. I also tend to ditch them after a week or so.. simply because they weren't working for me. Once on paper, hard to move things around, or change. 
I was reluctant to jump into Homeschool Planet because so far I haven't had much more success with online planners. Really in the past it just led me to be online more, and more easily distracted. 

Homeschool Planet is Awesome! I finally feel like I found something that is going to work for me! No paper, or fun pens or washi tape and decorations.. but so much more than that in organization that I really super excited to share with you. 

Firstly there is a 7 minute introductory video, and I recommend watching it. If you aren't typically a planner it may look a bit overwhelming. It really is very organized and easy to use. 

 There are a couple modes to view and work in. The first, below is Calendar mode. And you can see on the far right I have it set for everyone. You can change that to a specific person, and even print it out for them to use and check off as they go. This feature is going to be perfect for me to use this coming fall when I really need my middle boys to be more self sufficient, yet reporting back to me. 
You can choose to look at it daily, weekly or monthly. 
On the far left you can see my family input-ed in. I have the older boys in there now to put in their work schedules. This is put in so that I know when they are working and it overlaps with other events going on in the family. I will remove the oldest this fall when he is off to college, and input college classes for the 2nd oldest. 

On the far right you can see some widgets under Co-op news. You can choose which widgets you want there including daily bible verse, shopping list, weather, To Do list and much  more. This helps tailor it to your likes. There are more widget spaces available at the bottom as well. This is an area I would love to see expanded with a note taking section or other fun widgets.

 In the planner mode you can see where I have put actual assignments in for Canyon in Unlock Math. I can set it to give Unlock Math each day without assignments, but with the assignments he then can check them off on the sheet I print out, and then I go and check them off on Homeschool Planet. That way we know which specific assignments got done. This is a fine tuning way of planning and it will be very helpful for me this fall. We typically have just written down the name of the subject without an assignment and it makes it much harder for me to keep on track.  

 When you schedule assignments, and you fall behind, you will get a screen like the one below. Love this feature!! Canyon was sick with strep throat this week and got behind in math. I can choose from the choices on the far right for each of his assignments to either bump them forward or move on. Carrying them forward makes life so much easier with this planner. No need to cross things off and try to squeeze into a paper planner when something comes up to take you away from your 'traditional schooling' for the day. I can't say enough about how great this feature is!

 I choose to get a daily and weekly digest sent to my email from Homeschool Planet. This gives me an idea of what is on my calendar for the next week. Just a heads up directly to my email before I even log in to see what I have scheduled.

 You can even change your background theme to reflect your mood. Mine is full of spring flowers and butterflies right now. 
I have chosen to just log into the program myself, rather than let the kids mark their assignments off. You can choose to have them log in and mark things if it helps you. 
Being able to print off assignments gives them an idea of what is expected without them getting lost in cyber land!

Homeschool Planet allows you to do show reports. Grades, transcripts, assignment lists. There is even a grading helper if you choose to assign grades to various assignments. 
Homeschool Planet is outstanding and I am really excited to add more to it as I plan for the upcoming fall semester.

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