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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trying something new…

Last week we tried valiantly to get back into the swing of things after our Disney World vacation. I think know we were all a little sleep deprived from our trip.

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Yes, I am fully aware that I have not posted about our vacation. I shared some pictures on Facebook and Instagram but if you don’t follow me over there here’s a sneak peak from our trip.


While we did make progress this week in our studies I feel like we need to make a few changes to our schedule so we can make sure we are getting everything accomplished. It’s probably just my OCD box checker-itis but I am willing to try a new schedule for a few weeks. All the classes the girls are taking are staying the same with the exception of a few review products we are still using and math will be done daily.

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I have decided that as we enter week 7  we are going to try an “A”/”B” block schedule for my 7th, 5th, and 1st grader. I’ve jotted down a plan on a notecard that on paper looks like it will work. We will have 5 blocks a day that will have us starting at 8AM and ending by 250PM, including having our recess time with our neighbors until the weather gets frightful. The time frames will be used as a guide line to help us stay on task.

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We have 8 weeks until our next break, so we are going to try and stick it out with this new schedule unless something drastic happens. I am hoping that this new schedule will foster greater independence in my 7th and 5th graders. I’ll keep you posted. Hope you had a great week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Presidential Game ~ a TOS review

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Do you have what it takes to have the most powerful job in the world? Well, I have a great game to tell you about called The Presidential Game where you can compete to win the job of President and you do not have to be 35 years old, ha!

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When the interest form for this game was released I knew I wanted to be on it. From previewing the game on the website I thought it would be a great way to teach the girls about the electoral college and votes needed to win. The Presidential Game did not disappoint so let me tell you a little more about it.

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Aimed at 11 year olds and up and retailing for $35.00, this game of strategy teaches you to focus your efforts on winning states, just like in a real Presidential campaign. With this board game, teaching or learning about the electoral college just got a little easier. The game comes in a bright blue square box with the following contents:

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  • 1 United States game board
  • 2 “VOTE” cards ( Democrat & Republican)
  • 300 game chips (150 red & blue)
  • 6 game dice ( 3 red & blue)
  • 80 Politics cards
  • 40 “Write your own” Politic cards
  • 1 electoral votes score pad
  • 1 Electoral WebMap Calculator Access Code

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In this battle to win votes the game is played on two teams, Republicans & Democrats. You can play with as little as two people or for more action packed fun play on teams. To begin playing you first need to decide how many weeks you will run your campaign. 30 weeks is the recommended minimum and that will take you approximately 1 hour to play. The weeks correspond to the number of “turns” you will take throughout the game as you push towards the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

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On your turn you need to decide if you want to campaign or fundraise. When campaigning your team chooses and declares three states on the map. The team rolls the three colored dice of your party. Each member on the team then decides the number of votes on each dice goes to which state. For example, if you declare to campaign in WA, GA & VA and you roll a 5, 1, & 3 on the dice your team then decides which number goes to which state (WA – 1, GA – 3, VA –5) or whatever combination your team decides.

With Fundraising it is a little different. There are only 4 states that you are aloud  to fundraise in, CA, NY, FL & TX. Once you declare the state you will fundraise in your team then rolls the three dice. Add up the total of the three dice and then at least half of the votes must go to the state you choose to fundraise in. Any other votes may go to any other states until they are all allocated.  For example, if your team declares TX and rolls a “16”, at least 8 of the votes need to go to TX. You are then free to either use the remaining 8 votes on TX or split them up to any other states on the map.

At the end of a fundraising turn, the team then proceeds to draw a Politics card. There are many rewards and a few penalty cards in the stack making for fun game play. I should mention that no political ideology is included on the cards just fun things like:

“Your campaign plane gets grounded during a snowstorm in Montana. The local news interviews you live at the Billings Holiday Inn.

Add 2 votes to Montana.”

Some of the political cards must be played immediately and will be marked with a star on the card.

“A popular independent candidate suddenly announces his/her intention to run.

Remove 4 of your votes and remove 4 of your opponent;s votes from any states of your choice.

*Play immediately.”

So, I am sure you are thinking that there must be math involved in this game with electoral votes and all. And you are right, but it is simple adding and subtracting only on the included game score card. I think it does slow down the game play a little but it is doable. Another option for keeping score is by using the optional Electoral WebMap Calculator which is an interactive WebMap that is available on a smart phone, computer or iPad shows and calculates the votes for you. The WebMap eliminates the need to do the math and to just concentrate on winning the game. To win the job as free leader of the world your team must have the highest number of electoral votes after all the states have been accounted for.


We have really been enjoying this game. I think we have played it about 20 times, and each time we have gotten better at strategy to gain the electoral vote. I have found that this is a great way to help reinforce geography of the US too. I definitely recommend you check this game out for your family. It has given us a greater knowledge of the electoral process so that when the next election rolls around the girls will have a better understanding of the process.

Be sure to check out what my fellow Crewmates thought of this game by clicking the banner below. Some people were able to tweak the game and make it work for younger children too which I think is great!


Company / Product ~ The Presidential Game

Price ~ $35.00

Ages ~ 11 years and up

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures ~ a TOS review

As a member of the TOS review crew our family was  photo seedsowerslogo_zps88af9c02.jpgtruly blessed to receive a new paperback book called, Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures from Grace & Truth Books. Written by Gwen Toliver, a homeschooling mom to 8 children and also a member of the TOS Crew.
In addition to serving her family, Gwen and her husband, John, have been serving with Wycliffe Associates in the Dallas, TX area since 2010. Through her work with Wycliffe Associates came the desire to record the stories of the missionaries and Bible translators through her company Seed Sowers.
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Seed Sowers is filled with 165 pages of harrowing, real-life stories of people doing Gods work in some of the most remote places on earth. In each of the 21 chapters, you will be immersed into unforgettable adventures through the highest mountains of Peru and into the sweltering jungles of Indonesia. Some of the missionaries stories left me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath. Although, not every story ended with a happy ending, you could see God’s hand in everything that was done.
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I chose to use this book as a family read aloud 3 times a week as part of our Morning Time Recitations (MTR). However, I first read the book from cover to cover before I began reading it aloud to the girls. A few of the missionary stories I am already familiar with, but it was nice to have a different perspective of them. I really enjoyed the Authors Note at the end of each chapter. This section gives a little more pertinent information relating to the story or about the people in the story.
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While the book is written on a 6th grade level and some of my girls could have easily read it on their own, we have enjoyed it as a family read aloud. Any scripture referenced in the book comes from the King James version of the Bible. The book is available from Grace & Truth Books for $12.50 plus shipping.
Some of the chapters have corresponding pictures to go with them further expanding the discussions after reading. More of these special pictures can be found on Seed Sowers The Book. Many of the photos are old, think Polaroid's, etc. and because of this the quality of the photos makes it so that they can not be printed directly in the book. Being able to see these photos is special in and of itself so I am glad that they are accessible online for viewing.  photo image002_zpsa0da42aa.jpg
This is a great book to add to your own home library. Click HERE to read an excerpt. I wholeheartedly recommend you check it out for yourself. These stories will touch your heart and show you God’s love through normal everyday people, like you and I, who sometimes have sacrificed so much to spread his Word. Be sure to check out what my fellow Crewmates thought about this book on their own blogs by clicking the banner below.
Company ~ Seed Sowers
Price ~ $12.50 plus shipping
Ages ~ 6th grade and up for an independent reader and up
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Monday, September 16, 2013

People Keys: Student Strengths Report ~ a TOS review

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Finding out what your child's strengths and weaknesses are can be quite a challenge as a homeschooler. Going through a lot of trail and error is one way to go about it, however, it can be a costly approach. I recently had the opportunity to review the Student Strengths Report from a company called PeopleKeys.

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The online Student Strengths Report  helps to identify the personality type of the student using the DISC framework. By mapping out perceptual styles, cognitive styles, and preferred communication methods it shows how to use the student’s strengths to your advantage to improve learning. Using the results of this report will help you help your student reach their full potential.

Setting up an account is quick and painless. The test is available in many languages so that everyone can find there strengths. I was able to have the account available for my tester, Madison (12) quickly and easily. Madison was able to take the test within 30 minutes and the 34 page results were instantly provided at the end in a convenient PDF file.

According to the test Madison’s personality is identified as an “Advisor”.

Advisors impress most people with their warmth, sympathy and understanding… Many people will come to them because Advisors are seen as good listeners.

While, I am not shocked at the results of the study I did find this information quite helpful overall! The results have helped me fine tune how I teach specifically to Madison and her learning style so that she gets the maximum benefit.

At $20.00 a test I will say that for my budget it is kind of steep. However, if you paced yourself and tested one child a month it is manageable, especially for the valuable information you receive. Because I think I have the other girls pretty much figured out for now, I am going to wait to test Mikayla until next summer, right before she goes into middle school. That way I will have a clear guideline of what I need to do to give her a solid start. Marie is already headed down the path in the right direction and Montana and McKenzie are fine too.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this product and I think you should check out all of what PeopleKeys has to offer. Many of my Crewmates have reviewed several of the products available. To read those reviews click on the banner below.


Company ~ PeopleKeys 

Product ~ Student Strengths Report

Price ~ $20.00

Ages ~ school age and up

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Logic of English: Foundations A ~ a TOS review

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I am in the process of teaching my third child, McKenzie (4) how to read. While every child is different in this journey its always great to have a program like the Logic of English and their Foundations A program.

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The Logic of English offers an unique approach to teaching reading instruction. It is based on the fact that 98% of all English words can be understood if the student learns the 74 basic phonograms and 30 spelling rules.  How cool is that?! The Logic of English teaches reading, writing and spelling through a multisensory approach through activities. The Logic of English program can be used with learners of every kind. From beginner readers to dyslexic readers or for students just learning to read if English is not their first language.

We received the Foundations A program to use with McKenzie. It includes a teacher’s manual, student workbook, manuscript tactile cards, manuscript handwriting chart, manuscript card games, phonogram flash cards, and a student whiteboard. With all these goodies your child will have :

  • 40 Lessons plus 8 assessments and review lessons
  • 6 Student readers which develop true reading comprehension skills as opposed to the typical readers at this level which encourage students to “picture read”
  • 22 Phonemic Awareness Games
  • 28 Phonogram Games
  • 10 Reading Comprehension Games
  • 2 High Frequency Word Games

McKenzie and I were able to use the Foundations program 2 days a week. After reading through the teachers manual I decided to take the lessons slow because she is still young. While she is a very eager learner I do not want to push her too hard and burn her out. So, we completed 1 lesson a week with lots of review on the other days. One of the best parts of the program that she enjoyed other than the whiteboard was the Phonogram App that we were also given for this review. It offered reinforcement of what she was already learning in a fun iPad app. The app allows students to HEAR the sound, SEE the phonogram, and TOUCH the matching card. With10 guided levels your child will have fun learning and matching the flashcards.

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Overall, I highly recommend checking out the Logic of English if you have a new reader or a struggling reader. We have had great success using it with McKenzie over the last 6 weeks. She is learning her sounds and blends each week and getting more and more confident as each day passes. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this program and the other products reviewed by clicking the banner below.


Company ~ Logic of English

Product ~ Foundations A

Price ~ teachers manual $34.20, Student workbook $16.20


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time4Learning ~ a TOS review


I was so excited to be able to use Time4Learning with McKenzie for the last 6 weeks. I did not hear one complaint from her if I asked her to play the computer. When I announced it’s Time 4 Learning she was ready to play. 

Time4Learning is the award-winning online learning system that can be used by students from preschool – 12th grade for homeschool, after school, or summer school. Integrating education with fun, its no wonder that year after year selects Time4Learning as one of the "Top 100 Educational Websites" for it’s animated and interactive activities and pintables. Screen shot photo time4learning2_zps231ad6e5.jpg

We were blessed to received a six-month membership to Time4Learning at the Kindergarten level. For additional learning opportunities we also have access to one grade level above and below. However, we mainly just used the Preschool levels.

The homeschool program is flexible and easy-to-use while providing a complete language arts and math curriculum that correlates to state standards. Each lesson is short and sweet, just enough for McKenzie’s sometimes short attention span. With a variety of interactive activities and educational games my girl was completely happy and asked to play many times outside school time.

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For PreK – 8th grade, Time4Learning offers one low price of $19.95/student per month. Additional students can be added for $14.95 each per month, and all students have 24/7 unlimited access. There are no contracts, no hidden costs, and members can quit at any time. Plus, if for any reason a customer is not satisfied, Time4Learning offers a 14-day money back guarantee.

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Initially, it was difficult for me to choose which child got to use the program for the review period. I picked to do McKenzie so that Montana could also help her and get a little review at the Kindergarten level too.  McKenzie has a separate login and password to access her lessons, while I also received a separate login to track skill progress, access records, and more. She is able to work  at her age level as well as go a level lower or higher when needed which I love!

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Subscription Cost for the program is $19.95 for first child and $14.95 for each additional child per month .

What’s included in the cost:

  • Online Curriculum for Preschool to 8th Grade
  • 1,000+ Student-Paced Animated Lessons
  • Math Exercises & Printable Worksheets
  • Language Arts from Phonics through Reading
  • Science & Social Studies In Most Grade Levels
  • Automated Reporting for Easy Record Keeping
  • Detailed Lesson Plans for Parents
  • Lessons Correlated to State Standards

This program can be used for homeschoolers, after school or summer school programs, preschools and daycares. It is more than just playing simple games, your child is actually learning new skills or brushing up on past learned skills. I am impressed with the program and all that it offers my child, but I do not think we will be able to keep the program after our subscription ends because of the monthly pricing. If however, I felt that my girls needed an “extra” because of struggles in the math or language art department, I would definitely look to Time 4 Learning as my first resource!

Want to try it out for yourself? Time 4 Learning offers a free 14 day trial of the site which includes  lesson demos, and a  scope and sequence. McKenzie loves her Preschool computer time and I loved it too because she didn't realize she was actually learning! Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Company / Product ~ Time4Learning

Price ~ $19.95 for first child and $14.95 for each additional child per month

Ages ~ PreK - 8th

Platform ~ online, PC or Mac




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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Sparrow Found A House

Have you heard? Elisha Press is running a “blitz giveaway” of some signed softcover books. Five copies of “The Sparrow Found A House,” autographed by author Jason McIntire, will be given away on Saturday night. You can enter with just your email address here:

"The Sparrow Found A House” is a Christian novel targeted toward young adults, but advertised to be suitable for all ages. The author is a 2005 homeschool graduate, and homeschooling plays a major role in the story. Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Rivera is living every teenager’s nightmare. Her widowed mom has married a man who wears his heavy Christian values like his sergeant’s stripes – on both sleeves. Glenn Sparrow is persistent, immovable, and not afraid to be firm. Worse than that, he’s loving, kind – even fun – and he has Chris, Moe, and Katie completely won over. But Jessie is determined that she won’t be won over, or give up her “freedom” without a fight. She knows what she wants, and it isn’t what they’ve got. Or is it? 

Reviewers have used phrases such as “realistic,” “true to life,” “believable,” and “hard-hitting but understandable” to describe The Sparrow Found A House. All seem to agree that it's a little different from most Christian fiction. Be sure to get your entry in soon, as the giveaway ends at 8PM Central on Saturday: .

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Greene Bark Press: Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again ~ a TOS review

IMG_4103_edited-1So I am not one to turn down a book, especially a good book like the one we were sent from Greene Bark Press called Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again.

Greene Bark Press is a small family-owned children’s book publishing company based out of Connecticut. Established in 1991, the company strives to publish and distribute only those books and materials in which the company feels are original, imaginative, and colorful and those materials that have some value to add to the learning process and growth of young readers. Greene Bark Press also sells and distributes educational toys and games from well known, reputable companies such as Melissa & Doug, Fisher-Price, International Playthings, and WJ Fantasy.

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Written by Ginger Pate and illustrated by Rhett Ransom Pennell this board book will help your children learn the rules for crossing the street safely. With the help of Wally Waddlewater, the duck, who wants to mail his Grandmother a birthday card he first has to learn how to cross the street. Wally teaches your child the proper way to look before walking across the street.

Wally Waddlewater Review

Look left, look right and make sure the cars are out of sight. Then remember to look left again.

Easy peasy and pretty simple for any child aged 2 to 8. For just $8.50 plus shipping and handling you can have this little gem of a book for your children too.


The best part of this review is that the book is just perfect for McKenzie who just turned 4. She is a small extra petite little girl who wants to keep up with the big girls when we are outside playing or riding bikes. Only thing is she thinks she 12. Not such a good thing for me who worries that she is going to get run over.


This book arrived to us at the perfect time as the weather is cooling down and we will once again be having daily recess with our other homeschool neighbors. McKenzie loves the main character, Wally Waddlewater! Right away she was looking at the book and really into the pictures. I think we have read this book over 75 times within the last 6 weeks. Which in the long run is not a bad idea because this book teaches your child a very important safety lesson, how to cross the street.


This is one book that will be staying on our bookshelves for many years to come. I think it would make the perfect gift too. Make sure you check it out and fall in love with Wally yourself. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this book by clicking the banner below.


Company ~ Greene Bark Press

Product ~ Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again

Price ~ $8.50 plus shipping & handling

Ages ~ 2 to 8 years old

Format ~ board book

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