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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Elmo at Busch Gardens

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Special discount

Remember back in February when I shared with you a review on A+ TutorSoft Interactive Math? Well, I just wanted to give you a gentle reminder that if you plan on using this curriculum anytime soon to take advantage of the special 50% off offer by using the Coupon Code: SPOFFER50.

Check out these quick YouTube demonstration videos to see the program in action.

~ Homeschool MATH Online

~ Homeschool CD Software

The special code will provide significant savings on the Multi-Sensory Interactive MATH curriculum. But hurry this special pricing is only good until March 31st!


Find A+TutorSoft on:




Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Art of Poetry ~ a TOS review

PhotobucketReviewing curriculum is so much fun especially when I get to use products from Classical Academic Press. We love and use a lot of their products in our everyday homeschooling so when The Art of Poetry was up for review I jumped at the chance!

This introductory program consists of a student text, teacher’s edition and DVD lessons all written by Christine Perrin, MFA. We received The Art of Poetry student text, teacher’s edition, and disc 1 with Chapters 1-2 about 6 weeks ago and have been going through it.

If you have ever felt mystified by, or unable to enjoy the significance of poetry, this book will lead you step by step to understanding and love of this branch of literature, guided by a gifted poet and teacher. The Art of Poetry is an excellent middle school or high school curriculum; it will teach the practice of reading a poem slowly and carefully, introduce students to the elements of poetry (such as imagery and metaphor) and the many forms that can make a poem, from sonnet to open verse. In the belief that practice is the best way to learn, this book is rich with explications, exercises, and activities. ~ from wesbite


The Student book is divided into three sections and includes 16 Chapters, The Elements of Poetry, The Formal History of Poetry and Application.

The Element section includes eight chapters dedicated to chapters on:





Sound & More Sound




The Formal History section includes chapters on:

The History of Form



An Emily Dickinson Case Study in Form

Open Verse

Walt Whitman Case Study in Open Verse

An Anthology of Narrative Poems

The final chapter helps you growing your interest by suggesting was to start your own poetry group or hosting a Summer poetry camp. A handy section on how to schedule your Poetry learning is included, which is really helpful.


The teacher's edition is an absolute must if you are not a poetry buff. It includes a complete copy of the student text along with detailed explanations of all the poems, a poetry timeline, answer keys to the Anthology exercises and quizzes and lots of activities to make teaching poetry come alive.



The Art of Poetry DVD Set is a 15 hour series that showcases the author teaching four eighth-grade students through the entire student book. Capturing  the “magic” of  Socratic teaching this DVD set helps the child focus on becoming an accomplished close-reader and respond as an excellent writer.

Initially, I planned on using this review product with all of my girls, except McKenzie. However, it became clear to me that this is way over the head of Mikayla and Montana. So, I switched gears and just had  Madison focus on poetry as she showed the most interest.

aop Madison is in 6th grade and we stuck to the basics as the book suggested and completed a few of the age appropriate activities. We took two weeks studying the 7 poems in the first chapter. After which we then watched the DVD of the Socratic teaching. Can you say Amazing! Wow, those students on the DVD are so smart! I love the Socratic teaching method and I tried to incorporate some of the principles into our daily schooling. We opted not to complete any of the quizzes at this stage of the game.

Classical Academic Press never lets me down and they will continue to be on the top of my curriculum list! While I thoroughly enjoyed going through this course with my 6th grader, Madison, I do not think she is quite ready for it. At least not to the full extent of what the program is geared for. For that reason, I plan on saving the rest of the material until 8th grade when she will be better equipped. However, I suggest you check out this program if you have a poetry loving child. Take a look at the PDF sample from the student book and the sample from the Teacher’s edition.

Also, be sure to check out what my Crew Mates thought of The Art of Poetry and the other product being reviewed, The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic by clicking the banner below.

Company ~ Classical Academic Press
Product ~ The Art of Poetry
Price ~ Beginning April 1st the bundle package will retail for 99.95. Student & Teacher’s text are available separately for $24.95 and $29.95 respectively. The complete DVD set will also retail for $69.95.
Ages ~ Middle school – High School


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sweet 16

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Today my oldest, Marie, turns 16. Oh my, how fast the time has gone!

We started out the day with the Lt. taking her out to breakfast at the local IHOP. She had a hamburger :) I guess when it’s your birthday you can eat what you want.  When she came home we surprised her with her gifts from her Grandma, sisters and the Lt. and I.

Sweet 16 006   Birthday Snow

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Happy 16th Birthday!

I would give you 100 Grand because you Rock! You are not an Air Head or a Cry Baby and it’s UP2U to share these goodies Now & Later.

Love You!

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(her “new” to her car that was just freshly painted, for when she gets her license)

We went out to an early dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and then rounded out the evening with a trip to the local Sweet Frog, yum!

Sweet 16 007

Friday morning we loaded up and headed to Busch Gardens for a cold, yet fun filled day. There were no lines in the park so we virtually had the park free to ourselves and the 600 other people. With no lines it was easy to just hope on a ride or just stay on a ride to take another spin. I share pictures of Busch Gardens in another post later this week.

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We are so blessed to call Marie our daughter!

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Essentials in Writing, Grade 10 ~ a TOS review

Essentials in Writing Grade 10 photo EIW10thgrade_zpse9ce70e0.jpgSometimes I wonder if my girls are getting enough writing. Why, I do not know because we use a really strong grammar program  that incorporates writing into the lessons and they can write. I guess I am just hard on myself because I want the best for them. Whatever the reason is I am so blessed to be apart of the TOS Crew where I can try out new products like Essentials in Writing. The title says it all. This gem of a program gives you all the “essentials” needed to give your child a solid writing curriculum.

Essentials in Writing is a complete language arts curriculum with emphasis on composition.
The basic parts of speech are covered in grades 1-6; however, the focus is on how they are “used”
to better communicate with the reader rather than diagramming sentences. Grades 7 and 8 weave
grammar instruction into the lessons during the drafting and revising stage of the writing process. Grades 9-12 focus primarily on sentence structure, paragraphs, essays, and research papers; however, grammar is
woven into instruction and writing activities.

                                                            ~ from Creator, Matthew Stephens

For this review we received the Tenth Grade Essay/Research Paper Curriculum and have been using it for the last 6 weeks. My neighbor, Tracey, actually told me about this program last year and I debated on purchasing it. When I saw it posted as a review item, I stalled a little bit more. I am so glad we were chosen for this review because for just $40.00 you receive  DVDs with lesson-by-lesson video instruction on sentence composition, paragraphs, the writing process, essays, effective writing techniques, and research paper writing. Also included is a CD-ROM with printable assignment sheets, worksheets and answer keys in PDF format. If you prefer pre-printed notebooks that option is also available for $20.00 if you do not want to print the files from PDF. There is no difference in content between the PDF file or Pre-Printed workbook, just your preference.

Working through the grade 10 level your child will learn all about the following topics:

  • SENTENCE STRUCTURE - dependent and independent clause; simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences; address sentence errors (fragment, run on, and comma splice)
  • FORMAL PARAGRAPH - structure; expository, persuasive, compare/contrast, descriptive, cause/effect, and narrative paragraphs
  • THE WRITING PROCESS - in depth study of each part of the writing process; practice the writing process with each multi-paragraph composition
  • ESSAYS (formal and informal) - detailed instruction and step by step process for narrative, personal, expository, persuasive, and compare/contrast essays
  • RESEARCH PAPER (project) - detailed instruction and step by step process to conduct a research project and write a research paper (CAUSE/EFFECT)

                                                                                          ~ from website

Marie worked through this program 4 days a week. I love that at this grade TOuchMath, Misc 045level it is pretty independent and she just popped in the DVD and watched the lesson on her laptop and then completed the corresponding worksheets. So far she has completed several essays on how beneficial Shutter Shade Sunglasses are and a descriptive essay on How to Make Homemade Pizza. I graded her written work and papers and we filed them away in her binder. Since we are winding down in our school year we have just reached the point where we are getting into the discussion of the “research paper”. While we are still in the beginning steps of narrowing down her topic, Why so many people eat junk food, I really enjoy the thoroughness and detail of the whole process.

I can confidently say that we have found a writing program the I LOVE! So much so, that I purchased copies of the 4th grade and 7th grade programs for my younger girls to use the remainder of this school year and we will be ordering the next levels for next school year. Be sure to check out the samples listed on the website and see if this program would work for your young writers.

Essentials in Writing has all the bells and whistles needed to teach your child how to write without having to pay an arm and a leg! What’s even better, they start teaching writing skills in first grade all the way through 12th grade. For the $40.00 price tag it gets the job done and it makes this homeschooling Mama very happy!

Be sure to check out what my Crew Mates thought of Essentials in Writing grade 1,3,4,5, & 6-11 by clicking the banner below.


Company ~ Essentials in Writing

Product ~ Tenth Grade Essay/Research Paper Curriculum

Price ~ $40.00 for DVD with PDF files, $20.00 optional printed workbook

Ages ~ 10th graders

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Disclaimer: I received the Tenth Grade Essay/Research Paper Curriculum from Essentials in Writing through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my 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. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, March 18, 2013

TouchMath: Pre-K ~ a TOS Review

 With four older sisters doing school each day, it's no wonder that 3yr old McKenzie wants to join in on the fun!
"Girls, do your Math!"
So, apparently I say that a lot during the course of our school day because McKenzie has been telling the girls this when she see them getting off track. Regardless of the fact that Math may already be done for the day. When the review interest form opened for TouchMath I knew this would be just the right program. Initially, I wanted to use the program with Montana, but who could pass up the opportunity to tell McKenzie to do her Math. :)

TouchMath is a multisensory program created by Janet Bullock, based on her classroom experience with children who were struggling to connect the concrete fact that 3 objects in front of them is the same as the abstract written number 3. She created numerals that have counting points, “TouchPoints”, on them corresponding with the number being learned. Students can then feel one raised bump for each count needing to be learned.

We were chosen for the Pre-K TouchMath program with 6 hands on manipulatives which retails for $59.95.
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The Pre-Kindergarten program covers:
  • Counting and number sense
  • Comparing and classifying
  • Sorting, Classifying, Graphing and Patterning
  • Identifying, Sorting and Classifying 2-D shapes
  • Identifying, Sorting and Classifying 3-D shapes and Coins
  • Representing Quantities and Shapes
The main part of the program came as a PDF download straight to my email. A few days later a  box arrived filled with our Manipulative goodies. I tell you it was like Christmas waiting in anticipation for the goodies to come. 

Inside the box included:

Touch Shapes ~ 108-piece set of six different multi-size/multi-colored shapes {circle, square, rectangle, triangle, rhombus, and hexagon} that can be used independently or with TouchMath Pre-K. Introduces student to shape identification, smaller/ larger, classifying and patterning. {$30.00}

3-D Numerals ~ Brightly-colored, durable plastic 6 inch 3-D Numerals that children can touch and count the raised TouchPoints  while learning the correct Touching/Counting Patterns. A PDF activity booklet with reproducible masters and additional ideas is included on CD. {$79.00}

Texture Cards ~ Perfect for tactile/kinesthetic learners, this learning tool contains five sets of cards (45 cards total), each with its own texture and theme — Shapes, Fruit, Forest Animals, Sea Life and TouchPoints. Each set of cards has  numerals for 1–9 and is designed to help you teach number recognition, numeral/quantity association, counting and vocabulary. The back of the cards show the numeral with TouchPoints and Touching/Counting Patterns. {$99.00}

Touch Point Posters ~ Winner of the 2007 Teacher’s Choice Award these ten eye-catching 8 1/2” x 11” posters are designed for smaller classrooms and will help you present the numerals 0–9 with TouchPoints. Also includes ideas for additional activities. {$43.99}

Math Fans ~  Basic math concepts are presented using these math fans with highly visual graphics, words, and numbers. Reinforce topics such as: one-to-one correspondence, counting and number order, greater than/less than, money, shapes, fractions, place value, addition, and subtraction. A comprehensive CD containing an 80-page PDF with Teaching Strategies, Lesson Plans, and Student Worksheets is also included. {$239.00}

Number Concept Posters ~ Ten high-intensity 11” x 17” posters help students connect a numeral with the quantity it represents. Each poster illustrates one numeral from 0–9 with the correct Touching/Counting Pattern in three formats: balloon TouchPoints, standard TouchPoints and without any visual cues on the numeral. Cute Cuddly CritterCrew characters are pictured holding the corresponding number of balloons. This highly interactive set contains additional instructional strategies for classroom activities and reproducible desktop masters. {$53.00}

The program suggests that you spend approximately 2 minutes per year of age of the child using the program every day.  Since McKenzie is 3 that put us at a minimum of 6 minutes per day. I can tell you now that we did more than 6 minutes a day becasue she LOVES the program and Math!

The TouchMath teacher’s guide includes scripted lesson plans for each of the 6 module workmats. Each day I followed the scripted lessons and presented the workmat lessons. We also spent time during the day playing with the additional manipulatives and/or extra activities.

We have been using TouchMath Pre-K 5 days a week and McKenzie surprised me with how much she already really knows. We have been able to breeze right on through Module 1 and we are currently 3/4 of the way through Module 2. Some days she requestes to complete 2-3 workmats and we just keep going until she shows signs of fatigue.

I can not say enough how much I LOVE this program! We were truly blessed to have been chosen to review the Pre-K edition and selected for all the manipulatives. Yes, while the manipulatives are pricey (for some), I think they enhance the program and are a good buy! I have been able to use several of the manipulatives with my other girls, especially the Math Fans and 3-D Numerals. Once we make our way through the Pre-K program I plan on purchasing the Kindergarten Program for McKenzie to start in the Fall. You can not go wrong with a program when your child begs to do Math!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of the Pre-K program and the K-2 grade programs too by clicking on the banner below.

Company ~ TouchMath
Product ~ Pre-K
Price ~ $59.95 for complete Pre-K module
Ages ~ Preschool age, 2-4
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Disclaimer: I received TouchMath Pre-K Homeschool edition through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my 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. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

READS: Parent / Child Reading Comprehension System ~ a TOS Review

Do you know the word that strikes fear into most school aged children? You guessed it, HOMEWORK!  EGM Educational Systems, LLC has developed a great reading system called READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System to help struggling readers master reading. Let me tell you a little more about it.

READS, which stands for Really Easy Dynamic Strategies, is a Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System developed by Elaine Meyers, a reading specialist with over 25 years of experience. READS was designed to help the parent work with his/her child to improve reading comprehension skills efficiently and as painless as possible.

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We received the complete READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System that is designed for children in grades 1-4. The system includes:

  • READS Parent Manual ~ Explains in detail how to use the READS program including all the questions on the Question Cards with helpful tips for using with your child.
  • Question Cards ~ 30 question cards conveniently on a ring to help get the dialogue started. Each card also contains a visual clue that matches the question on the card.
  • Reward Charts & Stickers ~ Keep track of your reading goals and track progress with this convenient chart. The parent manual offers helpful suggestions for reward ideas.
  • Magic Finger / Reading Guide Strip ~ Keep track of each word using this fun Magic Finger. The Reading Guide Strip highlights only the words to be read and blocks out any text above and below.
  • Speedy Speller ~ With 1400 words the Speedy Speller is perfect for helping your child find commonly used words, abbreviations and more. A definite go to handy dictionary of sorts.
  • Reusable Storage Pouch ~ Contain all the above goodies in an handy Phthalate free vinyl storage pouch with a Velcro closure.

The READS system is effective for readers below, at or above grade level and meets all Common Core Standards. Retailing for just $19.95 it works with any reading material and makes reading homework fun and exciting for both children and parents.


I used the READS with Mikayla, 4th grader and Montana, K’er. The reading strip and Magic Finger were a favorite part of the program for both. The Question cards helped me tremendously. They are quick and easy questions so that I can make sure that Mikayla really did understand what she read. Also, the Speedy Speller has come in handy several times. It is small enough to keep in Mikayla’s binder for when she needs help spelling a tricky word.


The rewards chart I used mainly for Montana as she is learning to read for a sustained amount of time. Currently I have the time set for 20 minutes, some days that is easier said than done, but the reward chart has helped. She knows the goal she is shooting for. Currently she is trying to fill her chart up so that she can go to the “BIG” pet store to check out the Parrots.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent tool for our family. I would encourage everyone to give it a look and see if it would work for your readers. Be sure to check out what my Crew Mates thought by clicking the banner below.



Company ~ EGM Educational Systems, LLC

Product ~ READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System

Price ~ $19.95

Ages ~ 1st – 4th grade

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Disclaimer: I received the READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my 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. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013