This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 9th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pencil Grip: The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit AND The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors ~ a TOS review {and GIVEAWAY}

I am a stickler for correct pencil grip. If you were a fly on the wall of our homeschool you would frequently hear me say “pencil check”. The said students in the room would then hold their hand in the air and show me their grip. My older girls have caught on rather quickly while my 3-year old son is just learning his grip. That’s why I am so glad to have received The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit and a pair of The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors from The Pencil Grip, Inc..

If you are not familiar with The Pencil Grip, it was invented in 1992 by Dr. Lois Provda, a prominent educational therapist. Since inventing the first grips way back in the early 90's, the company has grown to offer many unique and innovative products for the home, school, and office. The Pencil Grip is the original ergonomic writing aid recommended by doctors, teachers and occupational therapists and is made for both righties and lefties. This Single Grip fits on pencils, pens and crayons so you are covered all around with writing utensils.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit involves the use of three grips:

 1. The Crossover Grip {Training } ~ helps the child align their fingers in the correct position and keeps their tiny fingers from crossing over the pencil.
 2. The Pinch Grip {Transitioning} ~ is used as a guide for proper finger positioning.
3. The Original Grip {Graduation} ~ is the “original” grip and helps to stop bad habits that can be formed during writing.

I have been really stressing correct pencil grip for all my children, but especially for my younger children. Having The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit assures me that Micah (3) and McKenzie (8) will learn to utilize the proper grip so we won’t have any hand tiredness or sloppy writing down the road.

Micah quickly advanced to the second grip, The Pinch Grip. He loves sitting at the table and getting to do “school”. He is currently learning the letters of his name and frequently likes to just trace or draw pictures too. McKenzie has been using our pink single grip on her pencil and when I say "pencil check" and she holds up her hand with the pencil gripped correctly. Since doing this it has really helped her handwriting and having her slow down and take her time forming her letters especially since we are transitioning to cursive. When Montana (11) turns in sloppy work I make her do her lessons again with a Grip on. It doesn't always make her happy but she learns to "Do it Nice, or do it Twice".

We also received The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors to try out. I have never really been fond of Micah using the scissors we have in the house so these came at a perfect time. He loves to sit and cut paper for long periods of time. Which comes in handy while I am working with one of his sisters.

He just cuts away and I don’t have to worry about him stabbing himself or his sister. There is a little spring loaded switch on the scissors that allows the child to not have to do all the work of cutting. We are using this setting until Micah’s hand gets a bit stronger. The only drawback we have experienced is him cutting paper that was not his or cutting up paper that he did for school. But that’s an easy day and no fault of the company or product!

Overall, we have truly loved all of these products we received and recommend you check them out if your child needs a little help with their pencil grip or you have a little one the needs to learn to use scissors! They will become a mainstay within our homeschool for many years to come.


And guess what!? While I normally don't get to give away review products but this company is so awesome that they want to get the word out about their product and share its awesomness. If you have a child needing safe cutting scissors or a little help with grip training enter to win a set of your own The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors AND The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. Fill out the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is only open to US residents at this time and one winner will be picked on Thursday, October 26th at 6PM Eastern and the winner will be announced Friday morning on October 27th. The winner will have 24 hours to contact me with their address and The Pencil Grip company will ship your set directly to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of these products by clicking the link below!

Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Price ~ The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit ~ $8.13 and The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors ~ $4.00 
Ages ~ beginning writers and up

The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Social Media Links for Pencil Grip: 

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©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reading Eggs ~ a TOS review

Over the course of the nine years we have been homeschooling, I have learned that what works for one child, may not necessarily work for another. And vice versa. We are no stranger to the world of Reading Eggs, the online learning site, having used it when Montana was younger. We have been working with the program over the last few weeks with McKenzie and Micah who both love the fun online learning games and activities in Reading Eggs.

If you need a little bit of fun to spice up learning to read for your children, look no further than Reading Eggs! Reading Eggs provides a fun and interactive way to get kids to learn how to read. They accomplish this by introducing beginner readers to the world of reading through interactive stories and games with fun characters.

With four distinct components to the Reading Eggs program including: 

~ Reading Eggs Junior for children aged 2-4 years 
~ Reading Eggs for children aged 4-7 years 
~ Reading Eggspress for children aged 7-13 
~ Mathseeds for children aged 3-9 years 

Reading Eggs Junior is the perfect amount of stimulation for your young toddler who is just beginning their learning journey. With a huge library of read-aloud books, songs, alphabet games, and the all-important phonemic awareness activities your toddler will be engaged from day one.

With Reading Eggs your children aged 4-7 will learn everything from letter recognition, phonics, to reading early readers while using this program. To capture and hold a young child’s attention and make the reading experience multi-sensory there are also puzzles, games, and songs to make the process F-U-N! Not to mention the chance to win golden eggs and rewards to help the child progress toward the end goal and feel proud of themselves.

Do you have an older child or want to continue on the reading journey? No problem! Reading Eggspress {a sister part of the Reading Eggs World} is geared towards older children, aged 7-13, to encourage fluent reading. Using real books for reading this program is jam packed with hundreds of interactive reading activities and games to encourage fluent reading!

Mathseeds teaches kids 3-9 the core math and problem solving skills needed to be successful. Through highly interactive lessons, Mathseeds keeps kids interested in completing math skills. Mathseeds is also available to play on a tablet so you can take the learning on the go if you have internet connection.

Getting started is as easy as signing up for a FREE 4 week trial of the program! When you first sign your child into Reading Eggs, the first step is for them to take an assessment test. This “test” consists of 40 questions multiple choice questions. Once your child has missed 3 questions, the test is over and your child will be placed in the appropriate level.

There are three levels of play with 4 learning boards in each level. Level 1: Lessons 1- 40 Starting Out for the beginner; Level 2: Lessons 41-80 Beginning to Read for the emerging reader; Level 3: Lessons 81-120 Building Confidence for Early Readers. No need to worry about your child skipping ahead lessons as they are locked so you follow the natural progression of the program. As your child progresses through the different levels you can track her progress on the map from the family dashboard.

Reading Eggs*

So, you are probably wondering how much this great program costs, right? Well, there are a few different ways to purchase a Reading Eggs subscription. For one child a 12 month subscription is available for $59.00 and includes access the Reading Eggs suite (Junior & Eggspress) and Mathseeds. For one child, a 6 month subscription is $49.95 and only includes access to the Reading Eggs suite. If you prefer monthly payments, you can also choose the monthly payment option at $9.95 a month. If you have multiple children then the Family Bonus Discount – is perfect for you! You will save 50% on the full price subscription when you purchase the SAME subscription for your additional children in ONE transaction. For our family, the 12-month subscription would only cost $88.50 for the year which is just right for my budget. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. There is also a Family Package deal for homeschoolers, just call the customer service team to inquire about pricing.

New this year is the addition of the Homeschool Guides. These colorful and detailed week-by-week guides make it easy for you to comprehensively cover and track essential learning outcomes for kids in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade. Each printable guide provides a 36-weeks of lesson plans for language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Best of all, each guide lists reference books in the Reading Eggspress library to complement online learning, and help you expand new ideas and concepts.

To coincide with the levels of the program, Reading Eggs also offers book packs. Reading Eggs Mega Book Pack includes all the level 1 and Level 2 books that match the first 80 lesson of Reading Eggs. For $110.00 this mega pack includes the 80 books, 400 stickers, 8 mini posters, 8 Activity books, and 2 packs of durable Flashcards with hands-on games. However, the book packs were not a part of this review. I am possibly thinking of purchasing these sets at the beginning of the year.

McKenzie (8-years-old) and Micah (3-years-old) had a blast using all the components of this program! Our primary focus for each of the kids was the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds portions. Micah did play around a bit in the Reading Eggs Junior section to review his letters and sounds but he preferred to be in the Reading Eggs site the most.

{lessons at the gym during homeschool break}

I was truly surprised after McKenzie took the placement test and it revealed her Reading Age to be 5.5 years old! Yes, she has struggled with reading from the beginning but I didn’t think it was that low, age wise, because she tested on her annual end of the year testing at 2.7 Grade Standard. But hey, age is just a number, right!

So we are pressing on and not letting it get either of us discouraged. McKenzie asks to “play” before doing her formal school work and even on the weekends! After completing the assessment, she was started on the 7th learning board on lesson 61. She has quickly progressed through the learning boards and loves collecting eggs. She has learned so much over the last few weeks and she always wants to be on the computer on the Reading Eggs site!

Who knew my newly turned 3-year-old could count to 36 and that he actually knows the individual numbers and letters! I always feel like he doesn’t get “enough” schooling each day with me because I am working with his big sisters. But with the help of Reading Eggs I must be doing something right! Micah’s favorite activity so far is the car driving game on both Reading Eggs and Mathseeds. Like many little boys he loves cars and loved racing around the racetrack.

We had a great time using the Reading Eggs program! All in all, we highly recommend Reading Eggs for anyone looking for a fun and exciting reading or math supplement. We received a 6 month subscription for the purpose of this review and have enjoyed it from the start. I actually will be canceling my subscription to another popular learning program and renewing Reading Eggs for 12 month subscription. My kids have preferred the Reading Eggs program over the other and have learned so much in such a short time period, it just makes sense to stick with what works!

Try it out for yourself with a 4 week FREE trial to the program and see if it is right for your child! But hurry! This offer expires on November 30, 2017. You can’t go wrong with that.  And be sure to Check out what my CrewMates think about Reading Eggs by clicking the banner below!

Reading Eggs

Company ~ Reading Eggs 
Product ~ Reading Eggs, Reading Eggs Junior, Reading Eggspress, and Mathseeds 
Format ~ online learning 
Price ~ see above for subscription prices 
Ages ~ 2-13 years old
Reading Eggs

Social Media Links 

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©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Wordless Wednesday

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Homeschool Spanish Academy: Taking classes with Google Hangouts ~ a review

***links in this post are affiliate links.***

Over the last few years that Madison has been using Homeschool Spanish Academy, she has met her teacher, Nora, on Skype for one-on-one lessons. This year, Mikayla and Madison are using the new meeting site on Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts is very similar to Skype in there video conferencing. Logging into class is super easy because Homeschool Spanish Academy sends you a reminder email for your class the day/night before your class. Just in case you are a busy and forget, you also get an email one hour before class starts. I really love this feature!

Your reminder email has all the details of your upcoming class session including the start and end times along with your teacher information. This is especially helpful if you are utilizing multiple teachers for the course. If you are needing to cancel or reschedule your class there are links right in the email that enable you to do so quickly.

To take classes through Google Hangouts you need to download the program on your computers desktop. It is free and completely safe to do so. One of the best features I think is that you have the option to take your lessons with you on your phone or tablet by downloading the Google Hangouts app. The app is available on both Apple and Android devices so you are covered if you need/want portability.  While we have not tried this feature yet, I know once we hit the road traveling up and down I-95 for gymnastics meets we will be utilizing the mobile app option.

On the girls laptops to log into class they simply just click the click here button in the reminder email. Doing this opens the Google Hangouts where you press the join button. After doing that you are in the classroom where you wait for the teacher. It’s recommended that you log into the class no more than 5 minutes beforehand to wait for the teacher to join the session.

We are excited for all the options that Homeschool Spanish Academy offers while using Google Hangouts. Both of my girls are excelling in their lessons and learning to speak Spanish beautifully!

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Brinkman Adventures, Season 4 ~ a TOS review

Are you ready to hear about the next audio drama that we have fallen in love with here at A Stable Beginning? They are not a new company because I have shared our love of the Brinkman Adventures before. The past six weeks we have been listening to Brinkman Adventures Season 4. If you are up for an adventure, continue reading below!

Brinkman Adventures

Prepare to become immersed into an adrenaline filled journey as you travel the globe from from houseboats in Cambodia, or travel down the dangerous alleys in the Middle East, or to frozen prisons in Russia with our modern-day missionaries, The Brinkman family. With The Brinkman Adventures will take your family on a heart-pounding, exciting adventures taming rogue robots and dodging angry hippos all the while showing God’s love for everyone on earth.

We received the digital download of Season 4 of The Brinkman Adventures which contains 12 action packed episodes. With over 5 hours of audio drama/entertainment these are perfect for long road trips or just around town. Each action-packed episode is roughly 30-40 minutes long and they each contain a central theme. Episodes in Season 4 include:

37 A Paradise Lost (God is in control)
38 Remember Nhu (Persevering) 
39 Aisha’s Fear (Overcoming Fear with Love) 
40 Heart Song (Tenacious Faith) 
41 The Crashed Kitchen (God Doesn’t Make Mistakes) 
42 Crisis In The Congo (People Over Projects) 
43 The Mysterious Palm Feller (Confronting Evil) 
44 War of the Raccoons (Faithfulness in Work) 
45 The Five Guys (Listening to God) 
46 Toughest Man (Surrendering Everything) 
47 Cambodian Quest (Going Deeper with God) 
48 What Brings Us Together (Glorifying God in Every Vocation) 

The Brinkman’s are not just your normal everyday missionaries. They are a modern day, large family, whose powerful stories come together through the wild and crazy adventures they take to share God’s word. Their escapades will inspire the old and young and strengthen your faith to love and follow Jesus with all your might.

We spend a lot of time in our van driving here and there each week and while listening to the popular kids satellite radio is fun, one does quickly tire of hearing the same songs looping over and over. I was so excited to be able to pop this audio drama cd into the CD player for something different. We have listened to many audio books before but nothing is quite as exciting as The Brinkman Adventures. From the very beginning, everyone in the van is completely immersed and listening intently to the stories to not miss a beat.

The Brinkman Adventures are available to purchase by season on CD for $31.99 or on MP3 download for $25.99. This is not the first year that the Crew has had the opportunity to review Brinkman Adventures. When we get in the van to go anywhere my kids are always asking me to plug my phone in so we can listen to our favorite episodes from the Brinkman Adventures Season 4 over and over again! Our favorite episodes are #40 and #48. Click on over to the site and hear a sample of the stories and I know you will be hooked on them just as we are. Also check out what my CrewMates think of this audio drama by clicking the banner below!

Brinkman Adventures Season 4

Format ~ digital download 
Price ~ $25.99 digital download or $31.99 CD set 
Ages ~ families of all ages
Brinkman Adventures

Social Media: 

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©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.