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.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

ARTistic Pursuits: Art in America, Vol. 8 ~ a TOS review

It’s time for another fun review of the newest homeschool art book from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Oftentimes I struggle to incorporate art into our week even though I know how important it is to let kids express themselves. However, the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. makes art instruction easy for this Mama!

We love ARTistic Pursuits Inc. here at A Stable Beginning so we were thrilled to receive another volume of the K-3rd Grade Level, specifically Volume 8, Art in America. For this review I knew it would be perfect for my youngest daughter, McKenzie (9-years old).

ARTistic Pursuits offers a wonderful Art program for many different grade levels all the way from Preschool through High School.  We have a few older editions of the other books that my older girls have used in the past. For this review I focused mainly on McKenzie.

There are eight books total in this series: 

Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary (Vol. 1) 
Art of the Ancients (Vol. 2) 
Art of the Middle Ages (Vol. 3) 
Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance (Vol. 4) 
Art of the Northern Countries, Renaissance to Realism (Vol. 5) 
Art of the Impressionists (Vol. 6) 
Art of the Modern Age (Vol. 7) 
Art in America (Vol. 8)

We received Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 which is a beautiful hardcover textbook filled with 18 projects that focus on pencil drawing instruction using graphite and colored pencils. McKenzie loves the girl on the front because she has pink glasses just like her.

With 64 color rich pages the book features drawings and painting by famous American artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. For your visual learner you will find video lessons that teach how to use the graphite and colored pencil techniques described. Video lessons are provided on Blu-ray and DVD disc.

You’ll need to purchase a few high quality art supplies to get you started. They include: 

Prismacolor colored pencils 
Ebony pencils 
Pencil sharpener 
Drawing pad 
Compass with pencil 
Construction paper

In the past, McKenzie has had some vision issues as a younger child and it just now within the last year and a half starting to actually like to color and draw. Sometimes, however, she gets frustrated because she doesn't think her drawing are "good" enough compared to her older siblings. My hope was that working through this program would help her learn the techniques of drawing and using her colored pencils too.

Since she has an older sister who is about to graduate with a Graphic Design degree and other older sisters who love to draw, McKenzie already had access to many of the supplies needed. These lessons were a fun fun Friday morning lesson for her to complete before heading to the gymnastics gym to train.

ARTistic Pursuits has met all of my expectations and then some! This art program has taken the struggle to incorporate art into our week away.  They will always be my go to curriculum when it comes to Art for my children because of the ease of lessons and the open and go format of the books.  It’s no wonder they have won so many awards. These books are fabulous and we will continue to use them in our homeschool for many years to come! 

Kindergarten to Third Grade Art following History in Chronological Order {ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Reviews}
54 of my CrewMates also tried out different volumes so be sure to check out their reviews by clicking the banner below and find the right one for your homeschool!

Kindergarten to Third Grade Art following History in Chronological Order {ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Reviews}

 Format ~  Hardcover book
 Price ~ $39.99
 Ages ~ 3rd grade 

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Instill high-level thinking and problem solving skills with Homeschool Complete ~ a TOS review

Would you believe me if I told you there was a complete homeschool program that includes everything you need to teach First Grade? Well guess what!? There is and it is called First Grade Complete from Homeschool Complete.

The main goal of Homeschool Complete is:

“not only to teach facts and figures but also to instill higher-level thinking and problem-solving skills that create a love of learning”.

We received the PDF download of the first semester of the first grade curriculum that includes Bible, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Science, Physical Development, Fitness, and Character Development in a theme based units.

The entire first semester curriculum came to my email as a two-part PDF download. It was a hefty download too, with the teachers manual having 600 pages and the corresponding student workbook just under 300 pages. The Teacher’s Manual is very detailed and includes step-by-step scripted instructions for each day of the program. It also includes detailed lesson plans and material lists so you will be fully prepared. The student workbook contains all the consumable worksheets your child will need for the semester.

The First Grade Complete includes 4 engaging mini units on a variety of topics per month. Each unit is based off a typical five-day school week and gives you the flexibility of have four days of planned activities and one day to catch up or do other activities of your own choosing. In the First Grade program you child will learn about topics including: Family Animals My Body Manners Money Transportation Hibernation U.S. Symbols and more!

My little guy is just now starting to review curriculum like his big sisters. Micah, (almost 5) is an eager learner so I just knew this would be a great program to try with him. Unfortunately, I misjudged the curriculum depth of the First Grade program.


Some of the material, especially the Language Arts that required reading and writing, is above his readiness. However, the math, physical education, and calendar portions are right on target! So, we focused on those sections for our review. When his LA skills catch up, we can definitely come back to these lessons. If we had to choose again, I think the second semester of K would have been a better fit for us.

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}
I really like the concept of the Homeschool Complete program. My favorite aspects would definitely be the included book lists and the ease of use. I am always on the look out for new readers or read-aloud books. The appendix also holds a wealth of information with the recipes, songs, and pledges used in the program. This program is really well written and might be the perfect fit for your homeschool so please be sure to check it out. They have several different levels including, Kindergarten Complete, Second Grade Complete, Third Grade Complete, Fourth Grade Complete,  and Unit Studies for grades K-6 to check out. 59 of my CrewMates also reviewed different grades and unit studies so be sure to click on the banner below and read some of their thoughts.

 Until next time friends, be blessed!

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}

Format ~ PDF Download, 1st semester 
Price ~ $114.71 (includes teacher’s manual and student guide) 
Ages ~ children ready for 1st grade material 

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wordless Wednesday ~ new curriculum

© 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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wordless Wednesday ~ GGI

© 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, February 26, 2019

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls ~ a TOS review

Morning friends! I have another great set of books for your elementary students this morning. I love sharing great books with you my readers and friends in real life so you are in for a real treat. Today I have a great set of books to share with you from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group called The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape (Book #3) and The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Journey to Jericho (Book #4). They are both apart of the The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series.

Both books are penned by M.J. Thomas and present Biblical truths in a fun, fictional way. The target audience for these books are for children in grades 1-3 or ages 6-9. With just over 120 pages each they are perfect for kids just hitting the chapter book level. The pages of each of these paperback books are filled with black and white kid-friendly illustrations that add detail to the story but don’t distract overall.

Two years ago we reviewed the first two books in the series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1) and The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2) and were blessed to receive an autographed copy of book 3 when it released. With the first three books, McKenzie read them aloud to me and her little brother, but now that she is a strong reader I let her dive into book 4 on her own.

In The Great Escape we continue to follow along with adventures with siblings Peter and Mary and their faithful dog Hank as they wander through the desert of ancient Egypt during the time of the Exodus. First hand they witness the devastation of the plagues as they watch Moses petition Pharaoh to set the Isrealites’ free. The trio races to solve the secret of the scrolls while being chased by a panther and battling Pharaoh’s devious advisor, the Great Magician.

In book 4, Journey to Jericho, Peter, Mary, and Hank are with the Israelites just as they are about to enter the Promised Land. But first they must help sneak Rahab to safety and join a secret mission to Jericho all the while eluding the Man in Black while solving the scroll.

The Great Escape & Journey To Jericho {WorthyKids Reviews}
Exposing my children to good quality books is a top priority in our house. McKenzie and I both have enjoyed these books tremendously and think you should definitely check them out to see if they would be a good fit for a young reader in your household.

Oftentimes, finding good quality literature is hard to do, but this series from M.J. Thomas has set the bar high and has us excited to read more! We can’t wait for the next installments of the books to be available. Be sure to see what my 59 CrewMates thought of these two books by clicking the banner below.
The Great Escape & Journey To Jericho {WorthyKids Reviews}
Company ~ WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
Product ~ The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series: The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape (Book #3) AND The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Journey to Jericho (Book #4)
Format ~ paperback books 
Price ~ $6.99 each 
Ages ~ 6-9 year olds, recommended reading level is grades 1-3

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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.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Immersive, adaptive learning from IXL ~ a TOS review

Happy Friday friends! Today I wanted to share with you an online personalized learning program for Math and Language Arts program that we love to use in our homeschool. IXL Learning  offers so much more than just online math drill! We have been using our annual membership to IXL you get access to Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies! Have you had the chance to use IXL?If not, let me tell you more about it.

IXL offers a comprehensive Online program for grades K-12 in Math, Language Arts, grades 2-8 Science, grades 2-8 Social Studies, and intro to  Spanish. IXL is a technology company from its core beginnings. Innovative education is a top priority for the producers and it is shown in their dedication to providing state of the art online learning opportunities through their program.

The skills that IXL offers are based off of state standards if your state has them, our current state of VA does, they will be laid out and coordinated within the program to help keep your child on track One of the best feature, in my opinion, is the ability to work at whichever grade level your child is at. My children typically excel in Math and they work a year ahead especially in the elementary levels. Not being confined to just “3rd grade” Math concepts helps ensure that my children are being challenged at their individual learning levels. Diagnostic tools are available to help you place your child in the right spot if you need it to fill in learning gaps. And guess what!? They now have a complete Spanish Version of the program for native Spanish speakers.

For this review, we received an annual membership that I have been using the program as a supplement for Montana (12 years old, 6th grade), McKenzie (9 years old, 3rd grade), and Micah (4.5 years old, JrK) on average 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes a session. Memberships starts at $9.95 per month or $79. A year for single subjects, Math, LA, or Spanish. Below you can see the break down for monthly versus yearly pricing per month or per year. Each additional child is just $4.00 per month or $40.00 per year.

With IXL you get the following benefits from its program:

 ~practice that feels like play: gain a whole new appreciation for how fun learning can be! With the addition of the new IXL app you can take your practice on the go. A great feature for our family as we are in the midst of our travel season.

 ~ content for your right and left side of your brain: an abundance of questions for every learning style, students can't help but build lasting skills and confidence.

 ~ practice that keeps you within the zone: Free from gimmicks or distractions, IXL is a place where every minute is spent truly learning.

 ~ learning that sticks with you: practice environment that rewards hard work and encourages students to learn from their mistakes.

 ~ numbers that tell a story : progress reports emailed weekly (another favorite feature!) You also get an email notification when a new skill has been learned or the child hits a milestone.

 Membership benefits include:
 - Comprehensive coverage of K–12 math curriculum. Your kids won't miss a thing!
 - Interactive language arts exercises for grades 2–4.
 - Unlimited questions in over 2,000 skills.
 - Fun and colorful practice formats. - Questions that adapt to your child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve.
 - Immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept. - Audio for all pre-K to first-grade math skills.
 - Weekly e-mail updates on your child's progress.
 - Informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and trouble spots.
 - Awards and certificates for you and your children to print out as they reach important milestones. iPad app for mobile practice.

Setting up our family account was quick and easy. Just log on to the website and fill out the parent information to create a master account. Once that is done you have the opportunity to enroll each of your children. I created a profile for each of the girls and my son and they picked their favorite picture to recognize their profile. I really liked this for Micah. He knows how to read and write his first name, which begins with an "M", but I think the picture helps to reinforce that this is his special account.

As I said at the beginning McKenzie is currently working a year ahead in math, so I wanted her to focus on her grade level math for a spiral review. Our current math program is quite comprehensive in my view, so I just wanted to reinforce the skills that they already learned last year to make sure they were solid. For McKenzie this means working on those pesky math facts and multiplication facts as well.

Montana used the 6th grade program which is the perfect supplement for days when we ran out of time or just needed to be out of the house. While she is not much of a computer learner and prefers our current book programs we use, I like that this option is available for those busy days. Overall, she has made many gains with using IXL over the last few weeks.

Micah is solidly working within the Kindergarten section and doing well. He is a different type of learner than his older sisters in the sense that he enjoys computer based learning, but can’t sit still for more than 10-15 minutes. He does however amaze me that he can log into his special account and get started by himself. He loves the short periods of IXL time and I love it because he is learning and excelling.

 IXL uses the "smart score" system for its program to help with mastery of skills. Basically, the child starts by answering easy problems for the skill being learned. The more answers they get correct and their "smart score" will rise. If you miss a problem your score will decrease a little but you have the opportunity to raise it back up. 100 points on the "smart score" meter means that the skill has been mastered and your child would then earn an award. Since we have access to every level of the program offered, it has been great to have the kids practice a skill on something they are currently struggling with now.

What little kid or big kid for that matter doesn’t like stickers! An awards board is available for every level including the preschool levels  It is a sticker based incentive system! Similar to a sticker chart that is meant to motivate your child to keep practicing.  Prizes are given out for mastering certain skills which is fun and you can also get an award for the amount of time you have been practicing a certain skill or the number of questions that have been answered. The award section is all about trying to keep the children engaged and learning and quite possibly McKenzie and Micah’s favorite part. And who doesn't like stickers!

Overall, we are all thrilled with the content of IXL and what the whole program has to offer for our family. You can frequently hear my children exclaim, “I got it!” when they answer a question.

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}
When you find something that works for your homeschool and children it is not hard to spend the money on it! I am so glad to have been chosen for this review and I definitely think you should check it out for yourself and see if it is a fit for your family! Be sure to read the reviews of my fellow 89 CrewMates by clicking on the banner below to see what they think.  

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}
Company ~ IXL Learning
 Product ~ IXL annual membership 
 Format ~ online or app 
 Price ~ Memberships starts at $9.95 per month or $79. A year for single subjects, Math, LA, or Spanish
 Ages ~ Preschool through 12th grade 
 Our rating ~ 5 stars 

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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.