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 15th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

TOS Reviews ~ year 3

Reviews from January 2012 – May 2012
~ Zeezok Z-Guide: The Red Badge of Courage
~ We Choose Virtues
~ KinderBach
~ Math Rider
~ See-N-Spell
~ Apologia: Who Am I? {And What Am I Doing Here?}
~ All About Reading, Level 1
~ Reading Eggs
~ The Art of Argument
~ Progeny Press Literature Guides
~ Action Alert
~ Amazing Animals by Design
~TruthQuest History: Middle Ages
~ Write with World
~ Christian Kids Explore: Biology
~ God’s GREAT Covenant: New Testament 1
~ Amazing Science, Vol. 1
~ Mathematical Reasoning, Level F
~ The Homeschool Library Builder
~ Judah Bible Curriculum
~ Library and Educational Services: GO Science
~ CapJaxMathFax
~ Write ShopJunior D
~ Heritage History: Young Readers
~ What Makes a Fish, a Fish?

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus ~ a review

untitled I had the pleasure of reading a great new novel called Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin. This novel is about a spunky Harriet Beamer who has lost her husband and insists that she is getting along just fine with her trusty companion, Humphrey. After falling for the fourth time, her son and Daughter-in-law say enough is enough! They insist she come and live with them in California where they can keep an eye on her. Not to keen on the idea, Harriet makes a bet with them. After all, she has never lost a bet in her life…until now!

Insisting Harriet move with them to California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move… if they happen to be right. Four X-rays later, Harriet’s ankle – and her heart – are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt-and-pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows.

The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her son and daughter-in-law hear Harriet will travel city-to-city by public transportation and “alternate means.” What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, taxi, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture – God has a different plan.

I enjoyed this book, it is a great Sunday afternoon read that will leave you laughing and smiling along the way. Harriet Beamer Take the Bus can be purchased from any major book retailer. The Author, Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels and is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor.


Product ~ Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Author ~ Joyce Magnin

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 320

List Price: $14.99

Pub Date: May 01, 2012

ISBN: 978-0310333555

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Disclaimer ~ I received a copy of Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus from Zondervan, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Makes a Fish, a Fish? ~ a TOS review

Have you ever wondered what it is really like under the ocean? Well, now you can take a first hand glance at the marvels of the sea with DVD videos from Dive Into Your Imagination . Dive into Your Imagination was started by Annie Crawley, a.k.a Ocean Annie, as a way to educate children about protecting the environment and the Ocean.  We received the DVD entitled “What Makes a Fish a Fish” and the accompanying teachers guide. Let me tell you a little more about it.
What Makes a Fish, A Fish? is presented in a short 30 minute, documentary style DVD geared towards children in PreK or K age range. However, my older girls also got a kick out of watching this DVD too. Details about what makes a fish a fish is presented in simple sentences with pictures of real ocean life.

Anne Crawley, the founder of Dive Into Your Imagination never saw the ocean until she was 20 years old and  in college. As a California girl that is hard for me to imagine not seeing the ocean for that long, but I digress.
Our ocean is responsible for 70% of the oxygen our planet needs, holds 98% of our water, and 70% of people on our planet rely on the protein of the sea for their food. It is an easy connection, we need a healthy ocean in order for life on our planet to exist. Kids love dolphins, turtles, clownfish, sharks and all ocean animals. Through my educational and entertaining presentations at schools, libraries, and events, everyone asked for more. I realized that kids are passionate about our ocean and if we could design educator guides to teach parents and teachers, we could get the ocean into your classrooms! Together with a team of educators, we created these cross-curricular guides combining literacy, math, science, social studies, and geography with character education. We included a special behavior component in which you become the scuba instructors while encouraging your kids to use their imagination to be scuba diving scientists! Don't worry, the important part about scuba diving is covered in the appendix of each of the manuals so we teach you what you need to know! Scuba diving is a safe sport and parallels some of life's greatest lessons, my favorite: if we get excited when we go scuba diving we have to remember to stop, think, breathe slowly and then act.
                                                                        ~ from the author
The meat of this program is definitely the educators guide. There are activity and coloring pages, ideas for implementing these activities, and suggested reading included. Here is a breakdown of what is included in each chapter:
  1. General Concepts/Topics to Teach
2. Objectives
3. Character Education
4. Treasure Chest of Vocabulary Words
5. Required Materials
6. Anticipatory Set: Lead In Questions
and Answers
7. Imagination Play Script
8. Classroom Activity Stations
9. Extension Ideas and Journaling
10. CCSS Alignment
11. Book List/Applications/DVDS Specific
to tie Activities and Character
12. Closure and Follow-Up
13. Plan for Independent Practice
14. Transcript of DVD
15. Go Blue Environmental Section
What Makes a Fish a Fish Educator Guide for grades 1-3 is 374 pages long with something for everyone. The DVDs are available for $19.95 each, educator guides are $69.99 per level. For the rest of May and all of June, there will be free shipping with any order placed at When you place your DVD order note that you are a homeschooling  parent and you will receive a $299. value gift of a set of the PDF educator guides!
While some of my fellow Crewmates felt that some of the other DVD’s reviewed followed an evolutionist point of view, I did not feel that with this particular DVD. Use your discretion when purchasing. That said my girls and I enjoyed the DVD and I can see us enjoying it for years to come. Check out what my Crewmates thought of this DVD and the other two that were reviewed by clicking here.
Company ~ Dive into Your Imagination
Product ~ What Makes a Fish a Fish?
Price ~ DVD $19.95, Educator guide $69.99
Ages ~Pre-K - 3rd
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Disclaimer ~ I received a What Makes a Fish, a Fish DVD and educator guide from Dive Into Your Imagination, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Homeschool curriculum/books for Sale

*****Updated list*****

I am cleaning my shelves off and have found a few things that I need to part with. I am hoping that you find something that will be of use to you on my list so I do not have to travel down to the local homeschool store over 45 minutes away. All books will be Postage Paid with Media Mail shipping, payments can be made with non-credit card PayPal. Take a look and leave me a message if you find something you need.

May Misc 025

IEW Student Writing Intensive C (used once) $110ppd   SOLD

May Misc 024 

Veritas Press Bible Kit ~ Chronicles through Malachi and Job $30ppd

May Misc 032

Positive Action for Christ ~ 4th Grade Building Life Castles (New)SOLD

  • Teacher’s Manual $30ppd
  • Student book $10ppd

May Misc 033

  • Teacher’s Manual on CD (New in shrinkwrap) $18ppd SOLD

May Misc 034

  • Hymn and Chorus CD (New) $7ppd SOLD

May Misc 045

Positive Action for Christ ~ Kindergarten: Learning About God  student book $10ppd SOLD

May Misc 042

Memoria Press Henle Latin Study Guide and Lesson Plan for Units 1-2 (New) $10ppd

   May Misc 048

Aims ~ Solve it! 3rd: Problem Solving Strategies + CD (New) $20ppd SOLD

May Misc 031May Misc 041May Misc 035May Misc 022

May Misc 023

The Care & Keeping of YOU $8ppd SOLD

May Misc 026

The Babysitters Club books 2,3,4,5,7, 8, & 9 $5ppd

 May Misc 028

Little House books (New) $8ppd SOLD

May Misc 029 

The Corn Grows Ripe, A Lion to Guard Us, & Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry set (New) $8ppd SOLD

May Misc 030      May Misc 036

Scholastic Phonics Readers books #61-72  $4ppd

Early Readers books set of 3, $4ppd

May Misc 043

Dr. Seuss books $6ppd SOLD

May Misc 054

Scholastic Preschool books, set of 2 $8ppd SOLD

May Misc 037 

Clifford Thinking Adventures PC game (New) $7ppd SOLD

May Misc 027

Read-Aloud Handbook $3ppd

May Misc 040   

Scholastics Dictionary of Idioms  (New) $8ppd SOLD

May Misc 044  May Misc 047  May Misc 049 May Misc 050 May Misc 051 May Misc 052 May Misc 053 

Family Flip Quiz (New) $4ppd

Blood and Guts (used with some highlighting) $2ppd SOLD

Write Like an Egyptian (New) $4ppd SOLD

Small Worlds: Maps and Map Making (New) $4ppd SOLD

The Explorer's Gazette: Amazing Stories of 30 Real-Life Journeys  (New) $4ppd SOLD

We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States (New) $5ppd SOLD

We Are Americans: Voices Of The Immigrant Experience (New) $5ppd SOLD

Thanks for looking!

Heritage History ~ Young Readers, a TOS Review


So have I got a real treat to share with you today. I was lucky enough to be chosen to review the Young Readers from Heritage History and this little gem of a CD did not disappoint.


The Heritage Classical Curriculum is the easiest, least expensive, and most enjoyable way to learn traditional history. Our "living books" reading program uses narrative histories that were popular with young people of earlier generations and features books of interest to students of all ages. The Young Readers collection is the introductory unit of the Heritage Classical Curriculum. It is intended for grammar school students who are reading fluently and would benefit from a broad introduction to leading events and characters of Western Civilization.

                                                                         ~from website

The Young Readers library includes 86 easy-to-read stories from many of the other CD libraries in the Heritage History curriculum series.  Rather than giving a complete overview of a civilization in the stories on this CD, Heritage History has chosen most of the books in the Young Readers collection to be short stories that  to appeal to children. The Young Readers CD collection includes stories from legends, historical fiction, adapted literature, and short biographies. In addition to the books provided, there are also  study aids, including timelines, historical maps, and era summaries in printable format on the CD.


Upon inserting the CD into my computer I was pleasantly surprised by the web browser format. It has the appearance of a web page but is completely separate from the internet. The books on the CD’s are offered in printable PDF versions as well as E-book files. If you have a Kindle or similar device these are great for on the go reading. The CD is organized and easy to navigate which makes finding the right book a piece of cake! Heritage History currently offers five complete CD libraries configured as complete curriculums in addition to the Young Readers volume including: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and the British Empire. There is something for everyone. Now, you are probably thinking that these CDs would cost you an arm and a leg for what you are getting, right? Nope, they are priced at $24.99 each, what a bargain!


We have truly enjoyed adding these stories to our homeschool library and are enjoying them tremendously. Check out what my Crewmates had to say about this CD collection and the others by clicking here.



Company ~ Heritage History

Product ~ Young Readers

Price ~ $24.99

Ages ~ 9 and up

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Disclaimer ~ I received a copy of the Young Readers CD from Heritage History , in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2012 – 2013 Plan of study

11  Yes, it’s that time of year again when everyone starts thinking of what they will use for next school year.  Well, I have made my list, checked it twenty billion times  twice, and ordered everything.  I am especially happy because I came in under budget by $60.00, YAY!! We mainly follow a classical style of education, but I find myself leaning towards Charlotte Mason approach too.

This year we are transitioning back to Sonlight. We strayed last year and it has left me somewhat frazzled as we finished up our current year. But I am back on track now and have realized my mistake. So, we are going back to what works for our family, and right now that is Sonlight. Because I have children at all different levels (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) we will be attempting to complete 4 Cores this year.  Is that crazy? I hope not!!! I have recently found out that we will be studying the same Core’s as several of our local friends, including a new gymnastics friend, and that is exciting in itself. Field trips anyone???

Heading into year 4 I am super confident and I have a feeling of calmness. That is a good thing, right?  The Lt. and I have decided that we will not participate in co-op next school year. It was a very hard decision that I wrestled with last school year also, but I know it is the best decision for our family right now. So, without further ado here is our 2012 – 2013 Plan of Study.

FAITH 10_06_11_RSA_Student_Portraits_10_6_3279_copy_copy-1211241 McKenzie ~ Pre-K3
Teach Me Joy ~ Animal Play
Letter of the Week
Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready
Mathematical Reasoning ~ Beginning 1
Books, books, and more books
PE ~ Tumble Bunny gymnastics 1 hr/wk

Montana ~ Kindergarten / 1stCADIE 10_06_11_RSA_Student_Portraits_10_6_3217-928307
Memoria Press K/1 recitations

Apologia Zoo 2
Reading good books working way up to 30 minutes independently.
Saxon 1 * finish up book
Mathematical Reasoning, Level A
Family Math Fridays
CapJaxMathFacts, addition
Language Arts
Explode the Code, 1,2,3
A Reason for Writing, Book A
Short copy sentences
Level 4 gymnastics team, 12 hours/ week plus 2 hrs of TOPs
 *we opted Montana out of Kindergarten last year but she did do K work and learned to read. This year she will officially be a Kindergartener for School Board records.
TRINITY 10_06_11_RSA_Student_Portraits_10_6_3236-927956Mikayla ~ 4th grade
~ Sonlight Bible D
~ morning recitations
~ Sonlight Core G (modified)
Language Arts
~ Rod and Staff Grammar 4
~ Rod and Staff Spelling 4
~ Word a Day vocabulary 4
~ A Reason for Handwriting, book D
~ reading lists
~ Saxon 6/5
~ CapJaxMathFacts
~ Family Math Fridays
~ Otter’s Elementary Science: The Human Body
~ Latin for Children, Primer A (2nd half)
~ Rod and Staff Happy Health Habits
~ World’s Greatest Artist ( picture study/art projects), 1 hr week
~World’s Greatest Composers Vol. 1
Level 7 gymnastics team  22+ hours/week plus 2 hrs of TOPs training

Madison ~ 6th gradeSAIGE 10_06_11_RSA_Student_Portraits_10_6_3184-928171
~ Sonlight Bible G
~ morning recitations
~ Sonlight Core G: World History, part 1
~ notebooking, map work, outlining
Language Arts
~ Rod and Staff Grammar 6
~ Rod and Staff Spelling 7
~Writing with Skill
~ Word a Day vocabulary 6
~ reading lists
~ Saxon 7/6 w/ DIVE
~ Family Math (for Middle Schoolers) Fridays
~Planning my own program studying Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics for 12 weeks. We will be using a combination of Elemental Science and Christian Kids Explore. Yes, I know this looks like a lot of science this year, but this child has requested lots of science focus because she wants to be either a chemical or mineral engineer.
~ Red Herring for Science, A1
Latin / Foreign Language
~ Latin for Children, Primer A (2nd half)
~ Homeschool Spanish Academy (Spring 2013)
~ Sonlight Health, Medicine, and Human Anatomy
~ World’s Greatest Artist ( picture study/art projects), 1 hr week
~World’s Greatest Composers Vol. 1
Level 6 gymnastics team  20+ hours/week

Marie ~ 10th gradeRAVEN 10_06_11_RSA_Student_Portraits_10_6_3259-928256
Bible History, 1 cr ~ Sonlight Bible Apologetics 200
English & Composition 2, 1.5 cr
~Classics of Literature 200
~ Excellence in Literature, Honors
History of God’s Kingdom, 1 cr ~ Sonlight Core 200
Math, 1 cr ~ Teaching Textbooks Geometry
Science (Honors), 1.5 cr
~ Honors Apologia Chemistry with Red Wagon Tutorials
Foreign Language, 1 cr
~ Alpha Omega Life Pac Spanish 2
Health, .5 cr (1st semester)
~Alpha Omega, Life Pac High School Health
Drivers Ed, .5 cr (1st  semester)
Home Ec, .25 cr (2nd semester)
~ Christian Light Press Home Economics I
PE, .5 cr
~ Competitive cheerleading, 2X’s a week
PSAT/SAT/ACT prep 1 hour/day
Total credits: 8.75 credits
Whew!!! If you read this far, you are awesome!  We will have many more opportunities to try out and review new products as we sail again with the TOS Crew. I will be linking this up with several linky’s in the next few months as they come available.
So, what are your curriculum plans for next year? Have you started planning?

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Write ShopJunior D ~ a TOS Review


While writing is not an area that my girls struggle with it can be like pulling teeth some days to get them to focus enough to put words to paper. When the opportunity to sign up to review Write Shop Junior D I signed up right away. Let me tell you a little more about it.

Based off the description Book D is recommended for 3rd and 4th graders and can be used with reluctant 5 or 6th graders as well.

WriteShop Junior is a creative writing program that appeals to many learning styles. As with all WriteShop products, WriteShop Junior helps you guide children through the steps of the writing process. To keep the experience fun for everyone, every lesson includes engaging games and activities that teach and review important writing and self-editing skills. And whether you have a more advanced child or one who is just beginning, this program is flexible so children can work at their own level.

                                                                                                                    ~ from website

The scope and sequence of book D includes:

  • Letter of Invitation
  • Humor
  • Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Poetry/Haiku
  • Folktales
  • Historical Fiction
  • Personal Narrative
  • Expository Writing: Factual Article

While learning all these great writing styles above your child will learn to:

  • Identify and use proper grammar and punctuation
  • Narrow a broad topic to a specific topic
  • Brainstorm before writing
  • Structure a sentence
  • Write a paragraph
  • Choose strong words instead of weak ones
  • Use emotion words to develop voice
  • Use the five senses to add descriptive detail
  • Self-edit and revise their work

For this review we received E-book versions of:


the Teacher’s manual ~ which includes daily lesson plans, writing samples, guided writing scripts, step-by-step teaching instructions, engaging learning games and exercises




  • the optional time-saver pack ~ For parents and teachers who appreciate shortcuts, the Time-Saver Pack includes a number of sturdy, ready-made props for activities featured throughout Book D, such as game cards and spinners. If you prefer to make your own, you’ll find instructions for each activity in the Teacher’s Guide. *again if you get the E-book version you must assemble on your own.

The Teachers Manual and Activity pack are invaluable tools for success with this program. Now, I will say this, I received this product as a digital download and I was overwhelmed by it!  I did not even know where to start. Luckily, my IRL friend Michele, had received the hard copy book to review. I was able to borrow her hard copy book for 2 days to really get a feel for the program and it made a world of difference to me. I recommend purchasing the hard copy book if this is your first time using this program. Then as you continue on in the program and have a feel for the layout and scheme of things then choose the E-book option.


Each lesson of this writing program has multiple components to it. Each lesson can take as long as 3 weeks to complete. The first lesson involves teaching how to write an invitation by partaking in mix and match games for the parts of the letter, i.e. salutation, body, etc., to brainstorming.  Within this lesson your student will also learn about punctuation  all before actually writing and editing the first and final drafts of the project.

T. Write ShopPhotobucketWrite Shop Junior D is available in both hardcopy or E-book versions. The Teacher’s manual and activity packs for the hardcopy books are priced at $39.95 each, while the E-books are slightly less ranging from $34.95-$29.95 each. The optional time-saver pack is priced at $13.95 for either hard copy or E-book version.

While this is an incredibly thorough writing program, Write Shop Junior D is not a program you can just open up and teach. There is a tremendous amount of prep work involved for the teacher. With that said, the Teacher’s manual does have extensive and detailed instructions that offer step-by-step instructions. Mikayla  and I have enjoyed trying out this writing program and working through it. Unfortunately, it is not the best fit for our family with the amount of prep time required by me, the teacher.

Just because it did not work for our family do not let that discourage you. Check out the sample lessons form Write Shop Junior and well as the placement helps for any of your students in grades 1-6. Also, check out what my Crewmates had to say about the Junior D level and several other levels that were reviewed by clicking here.


Company ~ Write Shop

Product ~ Write Shop Junior D

Price ~ ranging from $39.95-$34.95 depending on which version you choose, hard copy or E-book.

Ages ~ 3rd –4th graders, or struggling 5th – 6th graders

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Disclaimer ~ I received an E-book copy of Write Shop Junior D , in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.