This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 8th year of homeschooling using a Classical approach.

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



Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Toaster: Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree ~ a TOS review


Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

We normally school year around here at A Stable Beginning. This year, however, has been a little different because we have had so much going on with the LCDR’s return home. Nonetheless, I still like to sneak in learning when I can to combat the "summer slide". For the last few weeks I have been able to do just that with the the help of Star Toaster and their brand new interactive book, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree .

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

I am a huge fan of reading at our house. I like to get the girls to catch the reading bug at a young age and then have them take off with it and soar. The Star Toaster Team believes that learning is a lifelong experience with opportunities all around us. They also believe that children learn best primarily in the home regardless of where they school {i.e. home, private, or public}. I love that Orphs of the Woodlands material is presented in such an entertaining and engaging manner way that children don’t even realize they are learning! Not only does it fill in any missing learning gaps, but it also instills a desire to learn.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewOrphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

For this review we received a redemption code to iTunes to redeem this app. For access and play you will need to have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that runs iOS 8.4 or later. Normally the app is priced at $1.99 and you can use it with several children if you set it up with the family share through iCloud. With this feature I was able to have Montana, my 4th grader and Mikayla, my 8th grader work through the lessons on different devices. Montana used my iPad while Mikayla used her iPhone.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
This app contains a 122 page illustrated chapter book that is complete with videos. Follow along with an adventurous flying squirrel named Abba who with the help of his best friend, Packrat Dod built a fort in an old oak tree called Tangletree. Together with their friends, Eixie and Hattah, who also built a fort called Thornwood had great fun in the Woodlands until a great flood came. After the flood, Abba has many adventures as he cares for six orphaned animals, or orphs, in his tree house.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Throughout the game, your child will help care for the orphs by completing jobs based on the 75 lessons presented in math, science, grammar, vocabulary, thinking skills, character, life skills, the arts, and more are woven into this exciting story. Not only is the story packed with knowledgeable things, but it also teaches your child how to learn.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate ReviewOrphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review


Orphs of the Woodlands is an online educational series like no other that encourages the love of learning, all the while helping to develop positive character traits in children. Designed to capture your child’s imagination it does just that and does not disappoint. My favorite part of the program would have to be the detailed emails that I received after Mikayla or Montana finished a chapter. I was able to see everything that they had learned within a specific chapter, to the number of lessons completed.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review


Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

I can’t say enough about this app, we LOVE it! For the price, I would definitely have purchased it even if it was not offered to us. Anything that gets my reluctant readers reading is A+ in my book. We are excited for future installments of the story to come out. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this app by clicking the banner below!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Company ~ Star Toaster 
Platform ~ iTunes app 
Price ~ $1.99
 Ages ~ 7 year olds and upOrphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
 #hsreviews #readingsupplement #readingapp #readinggame


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©2008 - 2016 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.http://astablebeginning.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday




©2008 - 2016 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.http://astablebeginning.com

Friday, July 22, 2016

Heirloom Audio Productions: Beric the Briton ~ a TOS review

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

If you have been reading this blog for a while, then you know that we love good books and audio books too. Over the last year and a half, I have come to appreciate audio books more and more. I spend a good amount of time driving the girls here and there and during gymnastics meet season we are always on the go. Now that we have another gymnast in the house I anticipate an even busier competition season. A few weeks ago we were asked to review the newest audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions called Beric The Briton . I was so excited when it finally arrived in the mail.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

Now that I have been hooked on audio books and audio theater it has opened up a whole new world of listening for me and the family. Heirloom Audio Productions is passionate about bringing history to life in exciting and engaging audio dramas. With their newest released title, Beric the Briton, the have set the bar high and it does not disappoint!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review
Beric the Briton is the fifth audio drama installment from The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty produced from Heirloom Audio Productions. One of the most popular G.A. Henty novels of all time, this adventure tells the tale of the Roman invasion of ancient Britannia. As we listen in we join Beric and his best friend Bodouc who have been captured by the Romans and trained as gladiators, then they live the adventure of a lifetime being placed in the service of the Emperor Nero. With over 2 hours of listening this story covers grace, sacrifice, and redemption with biblical and moral values intertwined with history and eternal truths.

For this review we received the following downloadable items in addition to the physical two CD set: ~ Beric the Briton MP3 set
~ eBook of Beric the Briton by G.A. Henty
~ 48 page study guide ~ inspirational verse poster
~ official MP3 soundtrack 
~ printable cast poster 
~ Live the Adventure letter 
~ behind the scenes video 


The two disk story comes in a handy fold out CD case and is full of high energy and fast pace story focused on building character for the next generation while bringing history lessons to life within the chapters. With the extremely high quality audio reenactments, this story it is perfect for ages 6 years old to 16, but truly loved by all ages including adults.



The study guide is broken up into three sections for each chapter: 

Listening Well ~ includes comprehension questions to make sure you are understanding the story

Thinking Further ~ have your child think a little bit with these questions to increase understanding of the characters actions or intentions.

Defining Words ~ enhance the understanding of the story by knowing what selected vocabulary words mean prior to listening.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

There are several purchasing options to order Beric the Briton directly from Heirloom Audio Productions including:

• $19.97 for an audio MP3 download that gives you instant access and includes bonuses like the Study Guide and printable copy of the inspirational quote from the centurion Julius.

• $29.97 plus $6.95 shipping gets you the two CD set plus the two bonuses above and the MP3 soundtrack download

• $99.97 plus $9.95 shipping gets you the Family Four Pack this gets you 4 CD sets, all of the bonuses mentioned above, plus 5 additional bonuses: Unlimited access to the Live the Adventure Letter, Beric the Briton eBook, printable poster with the star-studded cast, behind the scenes documentary.

All of the prices listed below come with a 90 day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.


My package with our CD was delayed for nearly two and a half weeks because my mailman delivered it to the wrong house and my neighbor kept it for a while even though it had my name on it, but that’s another story for another time. Because we are on the go almost every day of the week we strictly listened to this while traveling. The girls were silent as the story played, eagerly listening for each detail. Sometimes we would stay in the van until a chapter had ended just so we could hear the end of the story. I really like the fact that the stories where numbered so we could find our spot quickly.


So, what’s the bottom line?! We love this CD! I love that the Henty stories from Heirloom Audio Productions not only entertain and educate the listener, but they always point back to Christ. I wholeheartedly recommend this product to any and all looking to add a bit of family friendly audio / radio drama into the homes. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of this product by clicking the banner below.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

 Product ~ Beric The Briton 
 Price ~ see above for different pricing options
 Ages ~ 6 years old to adult
Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review
Beric The Briton FB Page

The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series FB page


 Heirloom Audio Productions social pages

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Twitter

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Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial 


 #hsreviews #HeirloomAudio #BericTheBriton #LiveTheAdventure #BringingHentyBack #AudioAdventures 
Crew Disclaimer
©2008 - 2016 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.http://astablebeginning.com

Thursday, July 21, 2016

21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper ~ a TOS review

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Sometimes I get behind in grading papers because; well life gets busy and it is not such a fun task to do after assigning the paper and then anxiety sets in because I get behind. This year, however, since my children took the time to produce quality work, I in turn want to take the time to grade them for their efforts. To help me accomplish my grading tasks Writing with Sharon Watson has produced a helpful set of 21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper. Score!

Sharon Watson is a former homeschool mom who only quit homeschooling because she ran out of children of her own to teach. She began her company Writing With Sharon Watson after sitting in a friend’s kitchen chatting it up with Dr. Jay Wile {Yes, the Dr. Wile, how cool is that!} about how many mothers were outsourcing, i.e.driving their children here and there and everywhere, for writing and composition lessons. At the suggestion of Dr. Wile she wrote up her first middle school course, Jump In, and the rest is history.

Mrs. Watson holds these beliefs for her curriculum:
 ~ students are more important than the material in the textbook
 ~ teaching writing is tough but she shows you the way
~ writing assignments should not be issue driven, especially in the beginning
~ She wholeheartedly believes that the Bible is the Word of God and that it reveals to us our precious Savior, Jesus Christ

We received a download of the 21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper a few weeks ago. It normally retails for just $10.00 but is currently on sale for $8.00 and includes 28 pages. This product takes the guesswork and anxiety out of how to grade high school level essays and research papers. You will clearly be able to grade papers with the 21 grading grids provided to include:
 ~ persuasive essays: with a thesis statement, geared to a specific audience, logical, compare & contrast, and moral/ethical
 ~ how-two 
~ opinion essay 
~ emotional appeal essay
 ~ emotional appeal speech
 ~ compare and contrast essay
 ~ position paper 
~ hard news article 
~ devotional 
~ feature news article 
~ biography 
~ literary analysis of “The Lottery” 
~ literary analysis of a Classic 
~ definition essay
 ~ personal narrative essay 
~ interview into narrative essay 
~ description of a person of influence 
~ personal testimony / spiritual journey narrative 

Once you have your assignment to the student, you as the teacher can decide whether or not to give them the rubric prior to the assignment being written or after. I prefer to give the rubric beforehand so that expectations are clear as mud right from the start. Each essay written earns two grades on the rubric. One for content and the other for grammar and mechanics. Breaking down the paper in this manner gives you a better understanding of your students weaknesses and strengths.


Each rubric will let the student know what is expected to be met during the assignment and will also give the appropriate number of points for each section being graded. My older girls did not do much writing over our summer break this year. However, I did find a few essays of Madison’s that still needed grading so I was able to use the new rubric to accomplish this.

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to review the 21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays and a Position Paper. It has made my grading a whole lot easier and more concise too. I look forward to being able to use these during our new school year with both my 10th and 8th grader as we dig into writing.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of these grading grids and the other product being offered, The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition, by clicking on the banner below.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Price ~ $8.00 
Ages ~ high schoolers

Writing with Sharon Watson Review



 #hsreviews #highschoolwriting #writingcurriculum


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©2008 - 2016 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. http://astablebeginning.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ picking up where they left off






©2008 - 2016 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. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

ABeCeDarian Company: AbeCeDarian Interactice A Workbook ~ a TOS review

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

My youngest daughter, McKenzie, who is six recently had the chance to work through a multi-sensory reading program, ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook  from the ABeCeDarian Company .

The ABeCeDarian Company produces a comprehensive, multi-sensory reading program that was developed by Michael Bend, Ph.D. The program stresses phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency and can help the weakest of readers from 5 years old to adult learners too.

Key features of the program include:
~ comprehensive, multisensory phonics instruction
~ sound blending and segmenting
~ letter and sound correspondences taught in the context of reading and spelling words
~ letter sounds are taught before letter names
~ no confusing rules to follow
~ combined handwriting and spelling instruction
~ oral fluency practice

This program is an interactive program that uses a web browser. Ideally it is meant to be used on a tablet like an iPad or Kindle so your child’s finger can be used as a stylus. While it is not ideal, if you don’t have access to a tablet, a laptop or desktop can be used too by using the mouse as the stylus.

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

A detailed 166 page teacher’s manual is provided for free as a download. If you wanted a hard print copy there is a small free associated with that. These plans are scripted so you know exactly what to say to the child and the expected answer. Starting from lesson 1 your child will start learning to read in each of the 48 lessons.

McKenzie and I worked through this reading program at least 2 days a week on our family iPad. She enjoys screen time so it was not hard getting her to work through the lessons. I had an extra stylus pen from an old phone for her use with this program. I found it to be very helpful in making sure McKenzie had correct pencil grip while forming letters on the screen during handwriting practice.

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

The interactive workbook is a great feature of the ABC program. Since there is no initial feedback the parent does need to sit with the child while doing lessons to make any corrections necessary.  This is not a program where you can hand off the tablet and expect the child to get the work done on their own. Which is not a deal breaker for us using this program. 

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

McKenzie is my 3rd child who I have taught to read, so I kind of feel like an old pro and did not necessiarliy need such scripted lesson plans. However, they were great to have when I needed an older sister to help get her reading lesson done for the day. For a new homeschooler teaching their first child to read, I think the lesson plans would be a dream come true. We plan to continue using this program during our upcoming school year with McKenzie. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below to read their thoughts.

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

Company ~ ABeCeDarian Company 
Price ~ $14.95
Ages ~ 5 to adults


 #hsreviews #reading #phonics #readingprogram

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©2008 - 2016 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, July 13, 2016

Welcome HOME!!!







©2008 - 2016 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. 

ArtAchieve: Entire Level II ~ a TOS review



It’s always a good day when we get to incorporate art into our day. However, sometimes I struggle to incorporate art into our week. I am happy to say that with ArtAchieve it’s not so much of a struggle anymore. Over the last few weeks we have been working on the Entire Level II homeschool art program from Art Achieve.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

ArtAchieve is the brainchild of John Hofland, a veteran homeschooler, and is a complete homeschool art program that provides instruction in drawing for kids and adults alike. Mr. Hofland believes that anyone can learn to draw because drawing is an essential skill, just like math, and is a skill that can be taught.

We received the Level II art lessons for this review. The entire level set includes accessto 14 unique art lessons for one years length on:
 ~ Swedish Dala Horse
 ~ Korean Wedding Duck 
 ~ Japanese Goldfish
~ Elephant from Ghana
~ Ukranian Cat
~ German Nutcracker
~ Sir Lankan Landscape with an Elephant
~ Repeating a Pattern
~ Ukranian Rooster
~ Hiding Butterflies
~ Mexican Mask
~ Russian Fortress
~ Russain Szopka
~ Mermaid from Denmark

Each lesson is available in two different formats for your learning pleasure, either through video or Powperpoint presentation. The video lesson guides the student through the lesson with an instructor demonstrating each and every step of the project. A quick history of the lesson is also given. The Powerpoing lesson is a detailed written instructions with clear images of the project in each stage of the project. So, it is just your preference of which one you follow with your students. Also handy is the complete list of supplies needed for each and every lesson in the level. Each project gives state standards that are covered also if that is your sort of thing to keep track of.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review



For this review I used the art program with my older three daughters at home, Madison (15), Mikayla (13), and Montana (9). Because each of the girls had a different preference for viewing the lesson, we split up how the lesson was viewed. Madison prefers the video lesson while Mikayla and Montana preferred the Powerpoint Presentation instead.


Viewing each lesson was as easy as longing into our family account and clicking on the appropriate link for the video or Powerpoint. The girls each had a great time completed various projects during our review period. The thing that they each struggled with was filling the page with the art and not just a tiny space. Nothing to major to be worried about though.




I plan on purchasing the Level 1 set for McKenzie to work through for the upcoming school year as the older girls continue to work through Level II set. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this Level and the other two levels up for review by clicking the banner below.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

 Company ~ ArtAchieve
 Product ~ Entire Level II 
Price ~ $53.00 for one year's access
Ages ~ beginner to adult students
Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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  #hsreviews #drawinglessonsforkids, #ArtAchieve



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©2008 - 2016 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.