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, June 29, 2017

Hewitt Homeschooling: Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set ~ a TOS review

It's that time of the year again when homeschooling Moms and Dads are thinking and planning new curriculum purchases. I know I am knee deep in the planning stages but I am excited to tell you about the Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling that I have been working through with McKenzie for the last few weeks.

If you have been reading this blog for long you know that we are a book loving family. We are blessed to have many overflowing bookshelves in our home library and a public library that fills in most of the time when we don’t have a specific book. During the summer I like the girls to complete some type of summer reading project to keep their knowledge going. Hewitt Homeschooling fits the bill for what I was looking for this year for McKenzie: a literature rich curriculum that uses classic books and poems to instill the love of reading and the beginning mechanics of grammar. I was thrilled to be offered the  Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling.

Hewitt Homeschooling has been around for many years in the homeschooling circle. They strive to serve parents with students from kindergarten through high school with an emphasis on combining excellent academics with character development, by instilling a strong work ethic, and to develop a spirit of community service within the next generation. The company firmly believes that reading great literature and then writing about it goes hand in hand in preparing students for college-level reading and writing.

The Lightning Literature 2nd Grade Set includes a:

Teacher's Guide with 330+ pages. The last few pages include alphabet charts, paper and hand placement guides, along with reproducible handwriting pages in 7/8, 5/8,1/2 inched ruled lines.

The Student Workbook is 354 pages of 36 weeks of consumable work-pages. This workbook is already 3-hold punched and perforated for easy removal.

A wide variety of picture books and novels are used in the second grade set which can be purchased new or used or pick it up from your local library. We were fortunate enough to have the first five books at our library for our review period. 

The following books are used as listed:

Max’s Words by Kate Banks

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
Teedie, The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt by Don Brown
Insect Detective by Steve Voake
The Three Questions by Jon Muth
La Mariposa by Francisco Jimenez
Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky and Arnold Lobel
Sequoyah by James Rumford
Anatole by Eve Titus
Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting
The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Many Moons by James Thurber
Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness
This Is New York by Miroslav Sasek
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie DePaolo
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

Lightening Literature & Composition is sequentially based and grows with your child in literature, grammar and mechanics, and composition. Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson. McKenzie, like a few of my other daughters excels at math.  Reading and phonics takes just a little bit longer for her to catch on because of her eyes, so I was glad to use this program for its gentle approach to literature. Having the option to read-aloud to her made the program more enjoyable for the both of us.

Grammar and mechanic topics covered in the program include: 
• Capitalization 
• Plurals 
• Parts of speech including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs 
• Synonyms and Antonyms 
• Punctuation 
• Subjects and Predicates
 • Sentence Diagramming 
• Poetry terms including things like line, stanza, rhyme, repetition, and more 
• Fiction vs. Nonfiction 
• Writing things like personal essays, friendly letters, poems, and more 

Using this program just 3 days a week has helped McKenzie become a more confident reader and writer. She still struggles at times to put words to paper, but she is young, and I know from experience with my older girls that slow and steady wins the race and she will get there. Because of this I elected to skip most of the composition exercises. 

Overall, we have enjoyed this program and will continue using components of the program during the fall. McKenzie loves the colorful pages with all the pretty pictures that correspond with the stories she has read. I love the fact that I can tear the pages out that I want to work on with her for easy filling in her work binder. 

Be sure to click the banner below to find out what my CrewMates thought of the Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set and the many other titles that were reviewed including:

 • Speech 

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

Company ~ Hewitt Homeschooling

Product ~ Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set

Format ~ Paperback Teacher's Guide & Student Workbook

Price ~ TG -$32.95; SW - $45.95; $91.70 for the set

Ages ~ 2nd graders

Hewitt Homeschooling
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©2008 - 2017 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, June 28, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

©2008 - 2017 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.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Homeschool Buyers Co-op: Homeschool Planet ~ a TOS review

It’s that time of the year again when planners start there “new” year. As a homeschooling mom I know I am knee deep in planning for our fast approaching new school year. I love that with Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op I can do so much more than just creating assignments, I can actually track our busy lives!

 Wouldn’t it be great to have something to help you keep track of everything in your busy life such as homeschooling, housework, activities and more? For the past 6 weeks I have been testing out the online planner to keep everything organized so that everyone can get where they need to be at the prescribed time. Yes, sometimes it’s overwhelming and I fail miserably, but hey, I am human.

 A few years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Homeschool Buyers Co-op and I hope I am not the only one who thought that they were just for buying curriculum at a great price? Homeschool Planet gives you all the tools you need to organize your home and homeschool so you are running in tip top shape with their online planner.

To get started is as simple as having a computer with internet access. Once you create a free account on the Homeschool Buyers Co-op page you can sign up for a free 30 day trial and no credit card is needed! How great is that! This planner packs a big punch with all the features it has to offer including the new Lesson Plan feature! Let me tell you about three of my favorite features. 

Assignment rescheduler makes the top of my list because life gets busy and who has time to erase and write out plans again! With this handy feature, simply choose how you want to handle the assignment. Either reschedule the overdue work alone, reschedule the overdue and today’s assignment, or just reschedule the entire day’s assignments by making it a day off. I have had to use this a few times and it is so nice to not have to rewrite anything. Everything just simply shifts a day.

Homeschool Planet

The new pre-made lesson plans are a dream come true! Not only do I not have to plan out the course, I did not have to schedule the program into the planner either. These lesson plans are available for many of the popular curriculum's including:

Saxon Math 
The Mystery of History 
Brave Writer
Math Mammoth
 Veritas Press 
Wordly Wise 3000 Online 
Alpha Omega to name a few

Right now Homeschool Planet is running a sale for the month of June, where people signing up for a free one-month trial will receive a set of free lesson plans, that are valued at $5-15, from their new Lesson Plan Marketplace. It's definitely a win-win just for taking a look at the program! 

The attendance tracker is a great feature that allows you to not only track the days you school, but also mark off any other days that are holidays, etc. Since we school 6 weeks on, 1 week off this was a great feature so I could see at a glance when the break week fell on the calendar.

 The Transcript feature is a huge time saver especially since we are heading back through the high school cycle and adding another student. With Marie I waited too long to start her transcript and it was quite overwhelming to input 3 years worth of classes and grades. I have already started inputing Madison’s classes and will start pre-loading Mikayla’s in the near future. The transcript can be printed out if you need to turn it in or for storage in your yearly binder.

While this is not our “busy” season, I appreciate this planner and all that it offers. Before getting a chance to review this planner I would have told you I was strictly a paper planner gal, but now I can definitely say that there are features of this online planner that I love and can’t get with a paper planner! It has simplified my life and allows me to keep on task and on schedule and get everyone to where they need to be. I also love that the girls can log on and see at a glance what is happening for the day too.

Even if you are a paper planner, I would wholeheartedly recommend you checking out this program. They offer a free trial so you can’t go wrong. Try it out and see how you like it, don’t just take my word for it. And be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool Planet {Homeschool Buyers Co-op Reviews}

Product ~ Homeschool Planet
Format ~ online planner
Price ~ $65.00 a year or $6.95 a month
Ages ~ Household managers 

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

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Crew Disclaimer

©2008 - 2017 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, June 22, 2017

UnLock Math: Algebra 1 ~ a TOS review

This fall my third child, Mikayla, will be entering high school. I am not quite certain how she grew up so quickly, but nonetheless she is ready to enter the realm of higher level math. Now, math can be one of those subjects that makes you tremble with fear or giddy with joy at the thought of teaching it to your child. I fall in between the two camps; but I really must tell you that math doesn’t have to be hard and you can teach your child upper level math with a little help from UnLock Math .

Over the last six weeks Mikayla and I have had the opportunity to use the UnLock Algebra 1 program from UnLock Math. UnLock Math is an online math program that has been around for a few years. It was developed from the teaching passion of Alesia Blackwood, a former homeschooler, who knew from an early age that she wanted to become a teacher. She accomplished her goal in 2000 to teach Mathematics to grades 7-12th.

UnLock Math Algebra 1

UnLock Algebra 1 is recommended for any child who is ready for traditional Algebra 1 program. I elected to start Mikayla in this level because it includes an extensive 19 sub-level review of Pre-Algebra skills in Unit 0 before diving into Algebra 1. I felt like she needed the review and I am glad this portion is built into the program.

UnLock Math

The complete program includes 12 units that have anywhere between 9-15 sub-levels each. The Topics covered in this math program include:

Unit 0 ~ Pre-Algebra Review 
Unit 1 ~ Equations 
Unit 2 ~ Linear Functions 
Unit 3 ~ Inequalities & Absolute Value Functions 
Unit 4 ~ Exponential Functions 
Unit 5 ~ Polynomials 
Unit 6 ~ Quadratic Functions
 Unit 7 ~ Rational Functions 
Unit 8 ~ Radical Functions 
Unit 9 ~ Transformations 
Unit 10 ~ Systems of Equations & Inequalities 
Unit 11 ~ Trigonometry 
Unit 12 ~ Probability

UnLock Math
By breaking up the math lessons into fun, interesting bite-size chunks students are able to understand the concepts being taught. In turn the student builds confidence without feeling any anxiety that typically comes with math. With UnLock Math’s unique teaching style your students will engage in: 

~ Teaching Videos that engage, explain, and entertain. Alesia teaches each lesson as she would to a class, explaining the concepts thoroughly and going through several examples. You won’t find any dry, boring lessons here! 

~ Advanced Assessment with various question types that truly assess your child’s understanding of concepts. 

~ Your Child Will Only See ONE Question at a time. Perfect for students who get overwhelmed and/or anxious when they see a whole page of "math". 

~ Immediate Feedback & Fully Explained Solutions for each question presented. 
~ Unlimited Practice to really master the new skills. 

~ Unlimited Review 

~ Grade book & Progress Reports real-time reports so that you and your child can track progress and assignment details.

UnLock Math

Getting started with this math curriculum is really easy! Once you go through the sign up process, your child will log in to their personalized Dashboard. From there you, the parent, can see the progress at a glance and choose the next lesson to be completed. A helpful pacing guide is included on the Dashboard that breaks down how many days it takes to complete a Unit and the course as a whole. I printed this out and placed it in my teacher’s binder/planner. When we are scheduling daily lessons it’s easy to grab and see where we are.
To start a Unit you need to “launch” it from the home screen. Just click on the rocket and it will take you to the lesson screen. Once there you will see the options available and any quizzes and/or tests for that Unit. Once you complete a sub-section the lock will be unlocked.

Each lesson follows a similar pattern of: 

warm up ~ five problems to review what you already know 

video instruction ~ Alesia lectures straight to the student in easy to follow lessons. They are short and to the point without a lot of fluff. You can see a sample for free here

 practice problems ~ problems are delivered one at a time without any distracting backgrounds

stay sharp ~ review problems (you can practice these more than once if your child is having problems) 

challenge yourself ~ a single challenging problem and 

PDF reference notes ~ these are printable not that can be printed and stored in your math binder for easy reference 

Once you have completed a lesson you can access the gradebook and see detailed information on how your child did on the lesson.

Overall, Mikayla has really enjoyed using this program. She likes that the lessons are short and easy to complete. This is not a supplemental math curriculum, it can stand alone as a solid program. However, we have been using it as a supplemental program to our math curriculum because it works better for my child in this manner. I have Mikayla take her laptop to the gym and do lesson in UnLock Math during her school hours at the gym. Mikayla excels at math, so she does not mind doing the extra work because typically it helps her with her lesson at home.

I have found these lessons to be a breath of fresh air! In our homeschool we require math to be done daily. I love that she can do her UnLock lessons at the gym and then when she comes home she can do her regular math lesson for the day. We follow this format because this ensures that we get math done, either online or at home, or both.

I am excited to see the new additional features that will make UnLock Math even better including easier navigation of the site, weekly progress reports, and updated dashbaords for students and parents just to name a few. I also love that a Pre-Calculus and Calculus courses are in the works! Because our method works, I am excited to purchase those programs when we get to those levels in a few years. Math doesn’t have to stress you or your child out. UnLock Math provides a refreshing new way to learn math that reduces anxiety for you and your child!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of the Algebra 1 course or the other courses, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry, that were reviewed.

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

Company ~ UnLock Math 
Format ~ online homeschool math 
Ages ~ When ready for Algebra level work
UnLock Math
Social Media Links:
 ~ Facebook @UnLockMath    ~ Twitter @UnLockMath   ~ Pinterest @UnLockMath   
Crew Disclaimer
©2008 - 2017 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, June 21, 2017

Apologia: How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus ~ a TOS review

While I am not a new homeschooler I can sure stand to learn some new tips and tricks. That’s just what happened when I received How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook) from Apologia Educational Ministries.
How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook)
Now, if you are a new homeschooler then you may not have heard of Apologia Educational Ministries so let me tell you a little about them. Apologia is one of those companies that everybody talks about and for good reason too! Apologia publishes K-12 Creation-based science and worldview curriculum for children K-12, inspirational books about homeschooling, and hosts online classes through Apologia Academy.

Taking on educating your children can seem like an overwhelming task. We are heading into our 9th year and I remember when I brought the subject of homeschooling up to my husband. It was scary, but I felt called to do it and I had a great friend show me her curriculum that she used with her girls. I was filled with questions and doubt but I knew deep down that I could do it.

The folks at Apologia have put together a great product to help all the newbies feel confident as they start there journey with this new How to Homeschool DVD and Coursebook.

The coursebook included 15 chapters that will help you get started on your homeschooling journey. Helpful topics to get you started include:

~ Join Us on the Journey 
~ How to Get the Most Out of This Course 

 Designing Your Road Map 
~ Setting Goals for the Journey 
~ Finding Support 
~ Choosing Curriculum 

 Finding Your Way 
~ Practical How-To’s (Nuts and Bolts) 
~ Organizing Your Homeschool Stuff 
~ Organizing Your Homeschool Day 
~ Tips from Veterans 

 Navigating the Detours 
~ Family Matters - Marriage 
~ Family Maters - The Rest 
~ Dealing with Opposition 

 Arriving at Your Destination 
~ High School Graduation and College 
~ If College is Not the End Game 
~ You Can Make It! 

 Beginning Your Journey 
~ Continuing Education and Encouragement Opportunities 

The 2-disk DVDs feature two veteran homeschool moms, Rachel Carmen and Leslie Nunnery, sitting down have a chat about homeschooling. The videos are short between 7-20 minutes each and feel like you are sitting down having a cup of coffee or tea.

"Never forget, God always equips us for what He calls us to do. Therefore, you can start your homeschool journey with confidence that the One who hold tomorrow also holds your children and your home school in the palm of His hand". {pg.10}

So how did I use this course as a veteran homeschooler? Quite simple really. I read the short chapter and took notes of helpful tidbits in my planner that I wanted to remember. I then would watch the DVD on my computer screen. I loved the DVD aspect of this curriculum, it was such an intimate setting and it felt like they were talking directly to me. As you work through the DVD’s and coursebook there are short assignments that help you dig a little deeper into the topic.

Everyone can use a little confidence and this course gives you just that as a new homeschooler or as a veteran too. Homeschooling is a big task but it doesn't have to be a daunting one especially when you have access to How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this product and the other product being reviewed, Internship for High School Credit, by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Product ~ How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus Format ~ paperback with 2 DVDs Price ~ $49.00 
Ages ~ For moms and dads

Apologia Educational Ministries

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©2008 - 2017 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. 

Wordless Wednesday ~ Transformer's The Last Knight

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures of Rush Revere Book series ~ a TOS review

Are you looking for a fantastic book series for your kids to read? Today I am so pleased to tell you how we have been enjoying the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series from Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh.

Adventures of Rush Revere

Written by radio host Rush Limbaugh and his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh these books will sure to be a hit with any child who loves adventure stories. Together, Rush and Kathryn have written 5 books, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner, and Rush Revere and the Presidency to share their passion for American history like no other books have for young readers. It’s no surprise that this series has soared to the top of New York Times Bestselling book series because they truly bring American history to life.

We are not strangers to this series as we have been fans of the books since last year when we had the privilege of getting a copy from our state homeschool convention. My 10-year-old Montana was so excited when I told her we were getting this set of books! When they arrived at our doorstep I didn’t want to untie them from their pretty bow but Montana was ready to devour them.

Each of these hard-backed books make the perfect read-aloud book or as an independent reader for a child aged 9 and up. The pages are printed on high quality, medium weight paper and come with full color illustrations of historic landmarks and paintings along with some modern pictures. Let me tell you a little about each book.

You start your journey back in time to experience life aboard the Mayflower in Book 1, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. Mr. Revere, an American history teacher, and his trusty talking horse, Liberty, spend some time aboard the Mayflower with two of his young student’s, Tommy and Freedom, time-traveling and getting to know the pilgrims journeying to the New World. On the way, they meet William Bradford, Squanto, and English military offer for the colony, Myles Standish. While in Plymouth the trio experience history first hand and discover the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. They even get the chance to build a fort, sword fight, and witness the first Thanksgiving.

 "I know, today, that this land will prosper and become a great nation. And it will remain a great nation as long as we are one nation under God." - Rush Limbaugh, [William Bradford], in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

Experience the first rumblings of American Independence in Book 2, Rush Revere and the First Patriots. This book takes you on an adventure right before the start of the American Revolution where you will meet some truly exceptional Americans like Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. A new student, Cam, joins Rush, Liberty, Tommy, and Freedom in this book. Along your journey you will travel to London and meet King George III to attempt to convince him to stop making life so hard for the colonist. Because he won’t listen to them the quartet rush back to Boston in time to join the Boston Tea Party and make sure that snobby Elizabeth, another student, does not change history forever.

"Never let uncertainty or fear stop you. If you work hard and think big you can accomplish anything, especially in a free land like America." - Rush Limbaugh, [Benjamin Franklin], in Rush Revere and the First Patriots 

 In Book 3, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, you are immersed right in the thick of the American revolution with Rush, Liberty and the rest of the crew from Manchester Middle School. Cam is the focus in this book, as his father is deployed overseas. While his father is away his mother sees a change in Cam’s behavior. Being able to meet some of the exceptional American’s of the time like George Washington, John Hancock, and Dr. Joseph Warren, Cam truly begins to understand the meaning of freedom.

"'Is that George Washington?' Cam asked. The man was tall, with broad shoulders and looked to be in his forties. He wore a white linen shirt with a cream vest..." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the American Revolution 

The most exciting adventures take place in the fourth book, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Rush Revere is back with his horse Liberty and the students from Manchester Middle School. In this book, Tommy takes center stage because his grandfather is sick. By taking a field trip to Washington D.C., Rush hopes to distract and inspire him at the same time while visiting the National monuments like the Washington Monument and The White House. During their adventures the evade the Redcoats, see a patriotic symbol saved from the burning Capitol, and see the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

"Tommy jerked awake and we both stood and ran out the door to the ship’s railing where we last saw Francis Scott Key. We stared across the water at Fort McHenry. The sun had just started to peek over the horizon." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner

Cam decides to run for student-body president in the fifth book, Rush Revere and the Presidency. This story focuses on the American elections as well as the leadership of the early presidents such as Adams and Jefferson. Initially Cam believes winning the election will be a piece of cake, but he soon discovers that winning an election takes work. Traveling back in time helps Cam and the rest of the crew realize that winning an election and being president isn’t all about the fame and glory, but rather serving the people.

"'Well done, young man. Being president is certainly not easy but it is an honor that the people have chosen you as their leader,' President Washington said, nodding at Cam." - Rush Limbaugh, Rush Revere and the Presidency 

Overall, we have loved these books! Montana has read them individually while I have read them aloud to McKenzie and Micah. Frequently, I have found Montana curled up in a chair or on the couch reading away. Her favorite character is Liberty, the horse, and she encourages you to get a copy of these books for your family to enjoy. I love that these are quality books that bring history to life. I wish I could have learned history by reading these stories while I was growing up. History doesn’t have to be boring and these books prove it!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of these books by clicking the banner below.

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Format ~ hardcover books 
 Price ~ retails for $19.99 
Ages ~ family read-aloud or independently for 9 and up.
Adventures of Rush Revere
Adventures of Rush Revere
Social Media Links: 

Facebook @rushrevere   ~ Twitter @rushrevere ~YouTube  

Crew Disclaimer

©2008 - 2017 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.