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 10th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

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



Friday, June 21, 2019

Jump In, 2nd edition ~ a TOS review

Writing is a top priority here at A Stable Beginning. We have tried many writing programs over our 10+ years of homeschooling. Some that have worked and some that did not quite fit the bill. We feel that writing is a skill that grows with you through daily use so I was delighted to try out another great program, Jump In, 2nd edition, when it was offered for review. Writing with Sharon Watson makes teaching homeschool composition easy with Jump In, 2nd Edition.




Sharon Watson is a former homeschool mom who only quit homeschooling because she ran out of children of her own to teach. She began her company Writing With Sharon Watson after sitting in a friend’s kitchen chatting it up with Dr. Jay Wile {Yes, the Dr. Wile, how cool is that!} about how many mothers were outsourcing, i.e.driving their children here and there and everywhere, for writing and composition lessons. At the suggestion of Dr. Wile she wrote up her first middle school course, Jump In, and the rest is history.


With the Jump In program your student will learn: 

~ the nine types of essays 
~ a research report 
~ story writing
~ poetry

In the 98 daily instructional lessons your student will practice everything from writing topic sentences, a thesis statement, citations, and other essential building blocks of composing a well crafted paper. The tone of the student guide is written to the student in a friendly way too.

Jump In, 2nd Edition {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

I used this program primarily with Montana my rising 7th grader over the course of the review period. Since we received a digital copy I only printed the the pages Montana needed each week and kept the Teacher Guide open on my computer for easy reference.



The lessons were easy enough for Montana to work independently after I had given instruction. She typically worked with the lesson for 25-30 minutes, 3 days a week. To follow up the lesson, we would discuss any hiccups or concerns she had during our daily meeting time and then make corrections before moving on in the lesson.

I personally think Jump In, 2nd edition is a keeper! It is a thorough program and you can be sure that your child will be able to write and convey what they mean on written paper. The price is nice too for all that you receive with this program. Economically priced at just $40.00 for the Student book and $10.00 for the teacher’s guide, this combo is sure to fit into everyone's budget. I highly recommend that you check this out if you are looking for a strong writing curriculum for your high schoolers. It's easy on the pocketbook and it gets the job done! I think this book could easily be used by any student, whether a homeschoolers or not.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this curriculum by clicking the banner below.

Jump In, 2nd Edition {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Company ~ Writing with Sharon Watson 
 Product ~ Jump In, 2nd edition 
 Format ~ We received a Digital copy 
 Price ~ $40 student guide, $10 teacher guide 
 Ages ~ middle school



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Friday, June 14, 2019

Grade 7 Lightning Literature Set from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources ~ a TOS review

It's that time of the year again when homeschooling Moms and Dads are thinking and planning new curriculum purchases for the upcoming school year. You may have just ended your last school year, but I am knee deep into the planning stages as we start back up in early August.


I have loved using the Lightning Literature curriculum with my older daughters in the past for our summer studies, so I was super excited to have the opportunity to have Montana, my rising 7th grader, work with the Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.


If you have been reading this blog for long you know that we are a book loving family. During our time off for summer break I like the girls to complete some type of summer reading project to keep their knowledge going. Hewitt Homeschooling fits the bill for what I was looking for; a literature curriculum that uses classic books and poems to teach writing skills and literacy analysis. I was thrilled to be offered the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 7 Student's Guide, Grade 7 Student's Workbook, and Grade 7 Teacher's Guide to use with Montana.


Hewitt Homeschooling has been around for many years in the homeschooling circle. The company firmly believes that reading great literature and then writing about it goes hand in hand in preparing students for college-level reading and writing. There goal is to serve parents with students from kindergarten through high school with an emphasis on combining excellent academics with character development, by instilling a strong work ethic, and to develop a spirit of community service within the next generation.


We have had the opportunity to use the Seventh grade set for the last six weeks. This set includes a student guide, a teacher guide, and a consumable student workbook. Lightning Lit exposes your child to several different genres of short stories and books and helps your child dig a little deeper into the context. Your child will also practice several writing techniques that are presented in a variety of methods and exercises.



This set covers the following stories and books in this order: 

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling from Stories & Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain 
Various poems from Stories & Poems . . . 
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol 
"The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” a short story by Stephen Crane from Stories & Poems . . . 
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller 
Various poems from Stories & Poems . . . 
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot 

These books are available in a package with Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children and in a pack without Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children. For this review we were to supply our own books to complete the work. We are blessed to have many overflowing bookshelves and a library that fills in most of the time when we don’t have a specific book. That was the case with the story of Rikki~Tikki~Tavi. Our library had a copy of the story for Montana to read to complete the beginning exercises in the curriculum.


The Teacher’s Guide contains complete answers to everything in the student workbook as well as discussion questions to check for comprehension. It also includes a helpful  planning schedule for 36 weeks of learning. The schedule is split into two semesters so you don’t have to. The Teacher’s Guide retails for $25.00.


The student guide breaks each literature  piece or short story down into manageable sections including: an introduction to what is being read while you read a vocabulary list comprehension questions literary lesson a variety of mini-lessons writing exercises The vocabulary list could take the place of your separate spelling list as it contains words needed to know. I had Montana complete her comprehension questions in her literature notebook. The Student Guide also retails for $25.00.


The Student Workbook is a consumable workbook and retails for $25.00. Your child will complete grammar exercises, analyze parts of the book or short story, complete crossword puzzles and complete short writing exercises. To keep from being so repetitive, Lightening Lit varies the activities for each book/short story.


I should note that even though this course is listed for seventh graders, a sixth grader who is a strong reader and likes writing may also be able to do well with this course as well as a eight grader who needs a little more instruction on the foundations of composition.


Since I was using this as a summer enrichment for Montana, I scheduled her work through the exercises three times a week. I will say that even though Montana is a strong reader she was challenged by this program quite a bit. She breezed through Rikki~Tikki~Tavi reading and exercises, but really had to think and take her time with some of the questions to complete the exercises for Tom Sawyer. I like that the program challenged her because that is exactly what she needs right now.


Overall, I am completely pleased with this set! Even though it challenges Montana she is excited to get through the next six weeks of lessons on Tom Sawyer and move into reading Alice Adventure’s in Wonderland. I wholeheartedly recommend the Grade 7 Lightning Lit set to anyone looking for a thorough all encompassing Literature program. Check them out for sure!

Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}

And be sure to check out what my fellow CrewMates thought of this program and the other products offered from  Hewitt Homeschooling by clicking on the banner below.

 Elementary: 


 Junior High: 


 High School: 


Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}

Product ~ Grade 7 Lightning Lit Set (includes the Teacher’s Guide, Student Guide, and Student Workbook) 
Format ~ perfect bound
Price ~ $ 130.56, sale price $117.50
Ages ~ Junior High

Social Media Links: 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hewitthomeschooling 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hewittonline 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hewittonline/ 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HewittOnline 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hewittonline/

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© 2008 - 2019 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.      

 http://astablebeginning.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wordless Wednesday



© 2008 - 2019 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.     

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic set with 200 Questions About American History set from Memoria Press ~ a TOS review

History is an important component to our homeschool studies. After all, you learn to not repeat past mistakes when you learn the history of the past. In March we hit a snag in our history studies. It happened during a time when I was really sick and I was struggling daily just to make it to bedtime. Being the stubborn girl that I am, I tried to modify, regroup, and finish out the school year but God was tugging at me to let go. It was evident that we had to make a change quickly, but to what!?


I literally cried out for guidance and very soon afterwards we were offered The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History set from Memoria Press. Montana has been using this set as a part of her Christian history studies to finish our the remainder of this school year.


As Classical homeschoolers we are no stranger to the high quality curriculum that Memoria Press produces. In fact, we use quite a bit of Memoria Press curriculum in our yearly studies already. If you are new to the homeschool, Memoria Press (MP) is a family-run publishing company founded by Cheryl Lowe in 1994. The company creates simple, easy-to-use classical Christian education curriculum for home and private schools all over the world. Memoria Press's produces many popular Latin, logic, literature, and classical studies courses for children in PreK-12th grade. Their products are written and field-tested with the students who attend the highly acclaimed Highlands Latin School. We were blessed to receive both of these sets from Memoria Press for review.


The Story of The Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic set is a perfect one-year survey of American history and the set comes with a reader, a student guide, and a teacher guide. With 32 weekly lessons you will find a comprehensive study on American history from Native Americans through The Spanish-American War. Each lesson in the student guide is set up with the same four part format that includes:

 I. Facts to know 
 II. Vocabulary 
III. Comprehension questions 
IV. Enrichment


The reader is a historical reader that can serve as an elementary textbook or supplemental book added to any history program. The chapters are short and sweet but don't leave out what is truly important in the events. All of the chapters include a picture or two about the chapter topic also.


The Student Guide contains reading compression questions that test the students knowledge of the reading material. It also includes a hefty Appendix where you will find the following information:

~ Maps 
~ 13 Colonies Chart 
~ Mayflower Compact 
~ Paul Revere's Ride Poem 
~ Letter From George to Martha Washington 
~ Declaration of Independence 
~ Exerts From Thomas Paine's Common Sense 
~ United States Constitution 
~ Emancipation Proclamation 
~ Gettysburg Address 
~ Daniel Webster's Senate Speech, 1830


The 200 Questions About American History Set includes a set of flash cards, a Student Book and a Teacher Guide. The Teacher’s Guide includes a recommended weekly schedule as well as a helpful teaching guideline. The complete course is scheduled out over 34 weeks and also includes tests, quizzes, and drills.


The flashcard set works great with the The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic set I talked about above. In fact, the comprehension questions are pulled directly from the newly edited Guerber book and from Story of the World Volume IV. The student book also includes memorization practice in the form of famous poems and speeches.


The flashcard set is a thick deck of heavyweight cards and includes four different categories of questioning including:

~ 150 drill questions 
~ timeline dates  
~ 44 U.S. Presidents 
~ notable quotes


Since we were beginning mid-year, I checked the books and schedule to see where we were leaving off in our old history curriculum. Turns out that Chapter 12 in the reader was a great place to start our review, that corresponded to week 2 in the planned schedule. I had Montana go back and fill in the previous drill questions as well just for review as well. The reading and drilling was a good fit for Montana my sixth grader, not too hard or too easy.


To help Montana learn and remember the American history questions, we played many games and incorporated their use. A favorite game all of my kids like to play is Jeopardy so we set up cards and played at least once a week. We loved the fast pace of the game and trying to gain points. Most importantly is that she is learning and retaining the information, a big plus in my book!

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}

We loved everything about both of these sets. It is thorough and gets the job done! We will be using this set in our upcoming school year as we finish out our American History studies. Definitely take a peek at this set from Memoria Press and the other sets offered for review,

Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) and Simply Classical Writing Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) with Teacher Key

Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words and Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words, and

The Wars of the Jews set by clicking the banner below.

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}

Company ~ Memoria Press


 Format ~ consumable student guides

 Price ~ $48.00 & $27.90

 Ages ~ middle school, 5th-8th grade


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Friday, June 7, 2019

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner 2019/2020 Year ~ a TOS review

Happy Friday friends! I'm heading to our state homeschool convention right after I post this blog...excited! 

Guess what!? Have you heard the news? The Old Schoolhouse® has their new Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year out just in time for planning season! It's hot off the presses so don't delay in getting your copy! 

If you are a new homeschooling mom or a long term veteran you may already be familiar with have heard of The Old Schoolhouse® and the products they produce. Gena and Paul Suarez head up the family run company and this planner is just one of their many products. This new planner is designed to be the homeschool Mama's assistant with words of encouragement throughout. Let me tell you a little more about it.



If you are like me and prefer paper and pencil to digital when making lesson plans then you need to check out the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year with devotions written by Gena Suarez and published by The Old Schoolhouse®.  I wasn't always a pen and paper planner, but over the last few years, my planners have become a lifesaving sanity tool.



The Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner is a 9" X 11" inch spiral bound planner with 189 pages. The front and back covers are made from a sturdy, glossy card stock paper with a beautiful floral print. 



Inside the first few pages you'll find the Table of Contents outlining the contents on the planner pages as well as helpful information about how to create an academic transcript. Plus, you are given a blank Transcript to fill out for one of your high school students. Also included in the front pages is a Checklist of Skills learned sheet. It is double-sided and provides room to track courses. 






Next you will find three full pages of calendars for 2019, 2020, and 2021. These calendars run January through December for a glance at yearly planning. I like to use these type of calendars to mark off our school year by quarter and for adding in special days like birthdays and anniversaries. 



After the yearly calendars the monthly calendars you start to get into the monthly encouragements and full size monthly calendar. This calendar starts with July 2019 and runs through June 2020. 






Right before each monthly calendar is where you will find a monthly encouraging Hey,Mama! letter. It includes a full page letter written directly from Gena. Each month has a different focus of encouragement; everything from your homeschool purpose to getting through those fail days on those long winter days. Directly after the letter you have a full page to jot down any important notes you want to remember for the month. 


Flipping to the next page brings you to the monthly calendars that are spread out over two pages. You have large size boxes to write in or you can stick a little note page to remind you of an important event. There is also a large notes section included on the left hand side of each calendar page. The perfect size for jotting down quick notes and ideas. 




Now we are ready to get to the planning pages! There are so many different ways to use these pages to fit your homeschool. For me I tried out three different options before deciding on the one that works best for our homeschool.







With room for 5 students there is plenty of room to use this planner for your whole family! The planner comes set up with the students at the top in blue color blocking while the days or subjects could go down the left hand side. These boxes are also in blue color blocking to set them apart from the actual planning boxes. Each rectangular planning box is unlined but has plenty of space to include the work you need to keep track of for your students.




My kids are all color-coded and have been since birth. Visually, it makes it easier for all to see whose work is what in the planner. After playing around with different layouts, I found that for our family, the best use of this planner is to use it for my two youngest students, McKenzie, my rising 4th grader, and Micah, my rising Kindergartener. My older two girls have their own school planners that they keep track of.



I typically plan the following week on Friday afternoons while my kids are finishing seat work. I write out the week's plan in my main teacher planner that I keep for my own records and then copy the lessons into this planner for my younger students while my older girls copy their own work into their planners. My kids like to mark off their daily assignments when they are done so they do this in their planner and not my main one. 


Since I am only using this planner for two students I decided to modified the pages to make it fit for our needs. I found that the three column, one-page spread worked best for us because they only school 4 days a week, taking Wednesdays off for our co-op. do this I used some of our favorite washi tapes and printable subject tags. McKenzie and Micah are color-coded pink and green respectively, so I use my erasable pens to write out lessons. 


Another modification I made was to take the July 2020 page and turn it into a June 2019 by simply using stickers. I also added month tabs to the planning pages for easy flipping. We are still finishing up the last of our lessons and the Hey, Mama! letter of encouragement was just the right thing I needed to read as we make changes to our school. This year we have experienced trials that have made me fall to my knees more than once, all the while showing grace to those who have hurt us. 
"Stay soft, Mama. Turn your heart toward Him, no matter the circumstances. Remain in His Word. Your children are watching, even when you don't realize it. Model Christ. Prove your growth. Practice grace. And hug your little ones close to you today".

After the planning pages the rest of the planner includes 30+ pages of helpful goals, charts and logs for up to 5 children including:

~ Semester and Yearly goals

~ 180 day Attendance Charts 

~ Book logs
~ Curriculum planning sheets

Overall, I love this planner! I love that I can customize it to fit my needs and still keep its functionality intact. I have found that this is the perfect planner for me to use with my younger children as I guide them on their way to independence.  This planner also doles out the right amount of encouragement that I need on a given day. Looking back and reading the Hey, Mama! letter throughout the month has really helped me stay focused in my work as a homeschooling Mama. Homeschooling is not an easy task, but a rewarding one by far!  If you looking for a planner to help with your homeschool organization that comes with encouragement for the homeschooling mama, then I recommend you check out the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for the 2019-2020 Year with devotions written by Gena Suarez and published  The Old Schoolhouse®. You'll be glad you did!
Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}

But don't just take my word for it! Check out what my 81 CrewMates thought about this planner by clicking the banner below.

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}
Company ~ The Old Schoolhouse®

Product ~ Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year 

Format ~ spiral bound book

Price ~ $29.00 USD *on sale for $22.00 USD*

Ages ~ Homeschool Mama's (and Papa's too)
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© 2008 - 2019 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.