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 9th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

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



Friday, May 24, 2013

Scaredy Cat Reading System Express ~ a TOS review

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The last few weeks I have been using a new supplemental reading curriculum with Montana and McKenzie called Scaredy Cat Reading System Express (SCRS Express) by Dr. Joyce Herzog.  Dr. Joyce Herzog is an accomplished educator since the 1980’s with  public schoolers, homeschoolers, and students with learning disabilities.

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We received the SCRS Express, which is a reading curriculum for multi-aged children. The program is mastery based and includes:

~ Teacher materials

~ 2 game boards

~ CD of the Scaredy Cat Reading System Rule Songs

~ Story of Letter Master

~ Using Letter Master as a Teaching Tool mini book

This versatile, hands'-on learning tool includes a long list of suggestions for activities and games to encourage learning the rules of phonics. This product retails for $30.00 and it is worth the price fully. Because this is the Express level, SCRS Express includes the words and sentences from all previous levels of the Scaredy Cat Reading curriculum. While the SCRS Express curriculum is not scripted and contains no lesson plans, there are plenty of ideas for practice and implementation of the 15 main rules through story or song. 

I used this product with Montana (6) who is reading well and with McKenzie (3) who is mastering her letter sounds. This was a perfect fit for the both of them. We were able to use SCRS as a supplement to our current reading and phonics program 2-3 days a week.  The girls especially enjoyed playing the games. I loved this too, because they were actually learning while having fun!

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I was also pleasantly surprised to have the UPS man deliver the book, Choosing & Using Curriculum which retails for $15.00. Written with a biblical worldview this 100+ book contains 28 short chapters on a variety of homeschool topics about choosing curriculum. Topics include information on curriculum types, educational styles and how to choose programs for math, reading, language arts and more! Additional resources are listed for children with special needs such as autism, ADHD & dyslexia. I really enjoyed this little gem of a book. It has given me quite a few ideas to tailor the subjects the girls need for the next school year.

Overall, I am pleased with both of these products and recommend them wholeheartedly. Definitely check out Dr. Joyce Herzog either through her website or at a homeschooling convention. I know I am looking forward to meeting her at our local convention in June. Be sure to read all of the reviews of all of different curriculum choices from Dr. Joyce Herzog by clicking the banner below.

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Company ~ Joyce Herzog

Product ~ Scaredy Cat Reading System Express

Author ~ Dr. Joyce Herzog, MA, PhD

Price ~ SCRS Express ~ $30.00, Choosing & Using Curriculum ~ $15.00

Ages ~ preschool – elementary

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

High School PREP Genius: An Academic Guide to Excellence ~ a TOS review

 photo CPG-logo-main_zps66938827.jpgPreparing for the high school years can be a daunting task for any parent whether you homeschool or not. Thankfully, we now have a great tool called High School Prep Genius: An Academic Guide to Excellence (HSPG),that helps walk you step-by-step through the entire process.  photo Untitled-1_zpsac2e8af4.jpg

HSPG was created by Jean Burke of College Prep Genius, a homeschooling mom, who has successfully helped many families navigate the PSAT/SAT and the highschool years. Everything you need to plan and implement a successful high school career and beyond is in this handy guide. This jam-packed book costs only $29.95 and contains 440 pages divided into 4 main sections with 5 Appendixes covering the following topics:

I. Introduction ~ how to use the book, how to set up a College & Career notebook and student timelines for grades 9-12.

II. Foundation for Personal Success ~ personal development, interests, beliefs, being healthy, financial independence and having a strong support system.

III. Foundation for Academic Success ~academic development, effective studying, tests and papers, getting organized, high school mechanics and going beyond the basics.

IV. Foundation for Future Success ~ future development, choosing a school, standardized test prep, college applications, paying for college and helpful college essentials.

Appendix A: How to Build a Homeschool Transcript

Appendix B: Talent Searches

Appendix C: Great Books to Get You Started

Appendix D: Reduce Test Anxiety Through Relaxation Techniques

Appendix E: Admissions Terminology

                                                                                      ~from table of contents

talkingtoself2Homeschool Moms & Dads act as the guidance counselors for their children on a daily basis. With HSPG you are given a road-map for High School success  with a month-by-month snapshot of what to do and when. Priceless information for this homeschool mom, especially since we are navigating through the process with our first born daughter. With just a large 3-ring binder and 7 pocketed dividers you and your child can read  through the chapters together or you can have your child read alone. There are short questions at the end of each chapter to engage with and discuss with your child. I would say that Chapter 3 had me pause with the chapter on questioning your own beliefs and worldview. If your family is of faith I would recommend you sit down and talk about your families values and then work the chapter together.

I am very pleased with this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone I know! It is worth it’s price in gold for all the valuable information contained inside it. With Marie being my oldest and finishing up her Sophomore year,  I wish that we had found this guide in 8th grade. I am so glad that I have this resourceful book to use with my other four daughters as they begin their high school journeys.

Marie’s thoughts:

R.Marie 10th (edit) “I like how this book is laid out in the book showing me everything that I need to accomplish especially in the month-to-month breakdown for each school year. I am so glad to have had an opportunity to use this book”!

If you have a  rising 7th or 8th grader I suggest you rush out and get a copy of High School Prep Genius ASAP! Read through it now and get a jump on what is to come so that your high school years can be smooth sailing and stress free. Be sure to click on the banner below and see what my CrewMates thought of this book too.

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Company ~ College Prep Genius

Product ~ HIGH SCHOOL PREP GENIUS: An Academic Guide to Excellence

Author ~ Jean Burke

Price ~ $29.95 for the paperback book

Ages ~ as young a 7th grade – 12th

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Want ~ photo a day

I really need a new laptop. I LOVE my iPad but I can not do the lesson planning, etc.  that I need to do without being tied to my desktop 24/7.

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I have my eye on this HP Envy model so I have been looking at sales prices and will most likely purchase during back to school sales.

Friday, May 17, 2013

{frog} Season ~ photo a day

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This little guy was at the back door at 2AM when I was taking Mollie potty. By 7AM he was stuck in the outside water bowl.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

7 O'clock ~ photo a day

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I wish I could look this perky at 7 O’clock doctors appointments :-) I will share Mikayla’s elbow woes later after we get the results of the X-ray.

Spanish for You! ~ a TOS Review

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Learning a modern second language is important these days and the easiest way to learn a new language is through day-to-day life immersion. Since we can not jet off to a Spanish speaking country for that immersion experience we have been using Spanish for You!

We received the Fiestas eBook download of Spanish for You! that includes:

  • Spanish for You! Fiestas eBook
  • Spanish for You! Fiestas audio MP3
  • Fiestas Worksheets
  • Fiestas Flashcard pictures
  • Fiestas lesson guides for Grades 3-4, 5-6 & 7-8
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This is a full year Spanish curriculum that is recommended for grades 3-8. However, it is fully adaptable for multi-level learning. With easy to use lesson plans your child will learn the alphasbet, numbers, common words and phrases and commands. There are 5 Lecciones in the Fiestas curriculum that include:

  • La fiesta de cumpleanos (the Birthday party)
  • El dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead)
  • Carnaval (Carnival)
  • La semana santa (Holy week)
  • La feria de abril (April Fair)

With easy to use lesson plans these lecciones teach all the vocabulary and grammar needed broken down and scheduled out for a 4-day week in 24-30 week plans. Check out a sample week by clicking HERE and for a sample worksheet click HERE.

Spanish for You! is available in different configurations, allowing you to figure out what the best level is for your families needs. Each theme set includes materials for all grade levels and retails for $64.95. Grade level specific packages that contain only the files needed for a specific grade level – 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, or 7th-8th retails for $39.95. The same text is used for all three levels, however, if needed extra textbooks are just $12.95. Teacher lesson plans for use in a classroom setting retail for $12.95.

I used the Fiestas program with Mikayla who is in 4th grade. We worked through the material 2 days a week as we are still doing our classical language of Latin also. This slower pace has really helped Mikayla both in her Spanish studies but also in her Latin. I really loved the attention to detail that the author has put into the program. We have tried many Spanish programs in the past but none quite suite the needs of our family for the elementary level. I am happy to say that Spanish for You! does that and beyond! I plan to finish the rest of the Fiestas program and then move on to the Estaciones curriculum. Be sure to click on the banner below and read the Fiestas and Estaciones reviews of my Crewmates.

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Company / Product ~ Spanish for You!

Price ~ Each theme set includes materials for all grade levels and retails for $64.95. Grade level specific packages that contain only the files needed for a specific grade level – 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, or 7th-8th retails for $39.95.

Ages~ Grades 3-8

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Need ~ photo a day

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A few supplies for Miss Mollie :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Papa’s Pearls ~ a TOS review

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We added a new book to our home library a few weeks ago. Written as a tribute to the Flynn families beloved Papa, Papa’s Pearls: A Father’s Gift of Love and Wisdom To His Children and Grandchildren is filled with heartfelt wisdom and story telling of yesteryears.

Diane Flynn Keith recounts the stories of her childhood and that of her father, Papa Carol Joseph Flynn’s, wisdom. In this book there are 17 short chapters that tell how Papa lived through the depression era as a street kid and turned into a self-educated, made-man as a plumbing contractor.

The love and respect for Papa throughout the story is touchable. With a combination of heartfelt and humorous stories this book will leave you with a happy feeling. Papa sought to encourage and build his family and remind them that he loves them, always.

I, myself, read this story alone. Originally I had planned to use it as a read aloud for the girls. However, I plan to read it aloud to them in a few more years. I do plan on having Marie to read it over the course of the summer and look forward to to having heartfelt discussions with her.

I enjoyed reading this book and would gladly recommend it. I would suggest the parent read the book first as there are some topics that you may not want your child to read alone or without proper discussion. For $21.97 this book is a gem. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates though of Papa’s Pearls by clicking on the banner below.

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 Company/ Product ~ Papa's Pearls

Price ~ $21.97 paperback

Ages ~ older teen ~ adult

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother ~ photo a day

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I had a great day spent with my family.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A snack ~ photo a day

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break snack for my hard working gymnasts.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

LiteracySoft: Phonics and Reading with McGuffey ~ a TOS review

Montana and McKenzie love playing on the iPad. Sometimes I go to grab my iPad only to find it missing from the nightstand. Sure enough I can find it in the hands of either Montana or McKenzie. But you know what? It’s hard to get upset when they are playing a great learning game like Phonics and Reading with McGuffey from LiteracySoft.

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Phonics and Reading with McGuffey offers extra reading practice for Montana (6) while giving McKenzie (3) a gentle head start at learning to read. The revamped program has been redesigned for the modern era with 52 step-by-step lessons to guide your child to a first grade reading level.

Available on many different platforms including PC, Mac, and Apple iOS devices the program is affordably priced at $19.98. We reviewed the Apple app on our iPad.

The app features:

 photo literacysoftapp_zps92bba7a1.png~ All 52 McGuffey Primer lessons

~ All 44 letter sounds of English and their graphemes

~ 60+ letter sound animations

~ 400+ practice word vocabulary

~ 9000+ nonsense word audio dictionary

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Downloading the app was super easy from iTunes and the app features several spaces for multiple children to learn individually. It is so user friendly that McKenzie did not even need help to open up and get started the first day. We were able to use the app 4 days a week  for 15-20 minutes at a time during school hours. I did, however, find the girls playing the app outside of school time which makes this momma happy.

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Overall, I highly recommend this app for anyone looking for some extra reading practice. It is fun enough that the kids will want to play and not feel like it is a chore. Montana has been making great strides with her reading this year and McKenzie is really starting to pick up and remember her letter sounds. I owe part of this accomplishment to this great app! Also be sure to check out and download the corresponding eBook with all 52 lessons. I do wish that it was available as an Android app and accessible on the Kindle Fire. Perhaps down the road it will be.

Like many apps, Literacy Soft offers Phonics and Reading with McGuffey in a Lite Version that includes the first 10 lessons for free. Be sure to check it out and see if this app would be a good fit for your child. Also check out what my CrewMates thought of this app by clicking the banner below to read their reviews.

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Company ~ LiteracySoft

Product ~ Phonics and Reading with McGuffey

Price ~ $19.98

Ages ~ PreK  and up. Great for struggling readers.

Platform ~ PC, Mac, Apple iOS

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Something that starts with F ~ photo a day

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This cutie of mine starts with the letter “F”. Here she is writing her name on her school paper.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Broken ~ photo a day

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A certain little sister of Montana's may or may not have broken Zazu off his perch this morning :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Home School in the Woods ~ Hands-On History Lap-Pack: The 20th Century in America ~ a TOS review

a3 Can I tell you again how much I love the products from Home School in the Woods!?! So much so, that when a call went out to help fill a review spot for the Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America, I jumped at the chance without really thinking it through :) {we are currently not studying the 20th Century} however, I am so glad I did!

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Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America is just as fabulous as the other products Home School in the Woods offers. This Lap-Pak is more than just a Lap Book it is a complete history unit study with 22 exciting, hands-on projects to complete. Through coloring, researching, drawing & writing, and gluing your child will take a journey through 20th century America discovering the details of World Wars, transportation, music, food, medical advances, and the stock market collapse you will bring History to life!

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This History Lap-Pak is available either by instant PDF download for $21.95 or on CD for $22.95. We received the PDF download which is accessible through the Adobe reader and includes :

~ instructions/directions

~ Lap-Pak Project Masters

~ Reading Text Pages

As I mentioned before, I jumped the gun on this review. We are currently not studying the 20th Century but will be in September so I used this review for me. It was a really interesting refresher course for me as I begin to prep for our fall studies and I learned that I really do love the hands-on learning style.

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The thoroughness and detail in this product is so amazing that the  20th Century History Lap-Pak can be used as a stand alone unit study as it is designed. However, I think it would make a great addition to your favorite history program. Especially, if your current program does not offer many hands on lessons. The product comes with 32 pages of reading text about each topic covered and a list of suggested reading material to compliment your learning. Because I used this product for me I went ahead and moved at a faster pace and assembled the Lap-Pak completely. I found myself digging in a little deeper on some of the topics, especially when completing the timeline.  I really enjoyed the “Dining through the Decades” and reminiscing about some of the “comfort” foods of the 20th Century still around today.

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Again I can’t say enough about Home School in the Woods or a8this product, Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America. I wholeheartedly recommend this product! It has really gotten me excited for Madison to learn about this time period in the fall. She enjoys artsy/crafty learning and this will be right up her alley.

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Be sure to read what my CrewMates thought of this product and the others being reviewed, Hands-On History Activity-Pak: Composers and Great Empires, by clicking the banner below.

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*** Also, check out my other review on Hands-On History Activity-Pak: Composers by clicking HERE.

Company ~ Home School in the Woods

Product ~ Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America

Price ~ Instant PDF download $21.95 or CD $22.95

Ages ~ Grades 3rd-8th

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