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, July 27, 2017

The Crafty Classroom: Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook ~ a TOS review

It’s hard to believe that my little guy Micah is ready for preschool! I mean, after all, he was just a tiny little squishy baby, right? Sigh, fast forward 3 years and I have an eager to learn little boy which is a blessing in and of itself!
ABC Bible Curriculum Notebook
Preschool is one of my favorite developmental stages. The wonder that fills their eyes when they experience something for the first time is truly awesome. The past few weeks we have started working on preschool activities and learning letter recognition with the help of the Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook from The Crafty Classroom.

Crafty Classroom

The Crafty Classroom is the brainchild of Valerie McClintick who produces top quality educational resources for math, reading, science, alphabet, Bible, writing, and more! All of her products are priced affordably so you are not going to break the bank getting quality curriculum material. We have been using the Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook and it has been a fun, gentle approach to teaching Micah his letters.

Crafty Classroom
This is a digital download PDF curriculum designed for children in preschool to K4 that includes everything you need to teach your young student the alphabet and grow their faith in God. With 658 pages, it is choke full of illustrated full color activities for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. In fact, each letter includes over 20 pages of activities! For just $15.00 you get a lot of bang for your buck! Don’t fret if printing in color gives you the willies, there are black and white options too.

Using the curriculum is really simple and low teacher prep which is good for busy moms like myself. Each week you will print the pages needed for the letter and corresponding Bible verse. You also don’t need a lot of supplies for this curriculum, just the basics like a pencil, crayons or markers, and a Bible. For 26 weeks, you will find enough material for 4 days of work with about 4 to 5 worksheets. My younger children enjoy worksheets. I appreciate the fact that lesson plans and a suggested schedule is included for each letter.

Inside the curriculum you will find many activities like:
 ~ Bible activities 
~ charts 
~ math explorations 
~ alphabet letter pages 
~ games
 ~ coloring pages 
~ copy work and more

Using this program with Micah has been great! We have taken it really slow because he is not quite ready for all that it contains. My focus during this review period was on recognizing the five letters in his name and vocabulary building with associated letter pictures. Anything that required writing he just was not ready for. Personally, I think this curriculum is geared more towards PreK4 to K5 learners but we made the best of it for our family.

For the remainder of the curriculum and year I plan to dabble here and there and come back to it full force next year when Micah is 4. I think then he will be ready for the full curriculum and everything it entails.

Overall, I give this curriculum 2 thumbs up! It is really great; my guy just is not quite ready for it. We have used several other products produced by The Crafty Classroom including the U.S.A Activity Pack and The Ten Commandments BM4K.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this Bible Alphabet curriculum and the other products being reviewed, including:

For Preschool: 

 Alphabet Curriculum Notebook (26-week Curriculum) 

For Kindergarten: 

R.E.A.D. Review Pack (28 Early Readers that Correspond with R.E.A.D. Notebook)

For Older Kids:

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}

 Format ~ PDF Download 
Price ~ $15.00
 Ages ~ Preschool – K4

Crafty Classroom
Social Media Links: 
Facebook   ~   Twitter Tag @CraftyClassroom   ~
Pinterest Tag @craftyclassroom   Instagram Tag @thecraftyclassroom   

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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, July 26, 2017

Madison is published in The Phoenix Homeschool Literary Magazine

Madison is published once again in this Homeschool Literary Magazine. She has three photographs and the continuation of her Sci-Fi story in this issue. Good job!

©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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

ACTIVA Products: Rigid Wrap and CelluClay ~ a TOS Review

We love to get messy with hands-on learning in this house! My youngest two children have been wanting to make an exploding volcano for a few months now summertime is the best time to do some homeschool crafts using Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products.
Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

Inside our box we received: 
~ two - 4” rolls of Rigid Wrap plaster cloth 
~ 8 ounces of CelluClay 
~ Instructions for 12 craft projects 

The Rigid Wrap is comes rolled up inside the package like a mummies bandages according to McKenzie. The Rigid Wrap is coated in plaster material and all you need to do is cut it with household scissors into the design, shape, and length that you want then soak it in warm water. After that just stick it to any surface or project you are working on. The Rigid Wrap dries super quick so you can start painting or decorating your project asap as you see fit.

The CelluClay starts out as a dry, powdery substance. Just fair warning it will get everywhere so be sure to cover your work surface. To use, simply add water to your desired consistency and you can mold it into any project you desire. Because it is a “wet” product you can add a bit of flare to it by adding in glitter or a bit of paint before it dries. The CelluClay does take longer to dry, but it’s not too long that you would lose interest in the product. Once dry decorate to your hearts content.

My youngest two, McKenzie (7) and Micah (3), were so excited to get started on making their volcano! With the help of big sisters, Marie and Madison, they constructed a beautiful brown and purple volcano. They used a combination of both the RigidWrap and CelluClay to construct the volcano one night.

After it dried overnight, they had a painting session and somehow the volcano ended up a purple/brown mountain which they were pleased as punch about. They could hardly contain their excitement when it was time to make the volcano explode. I posted a video on Instagram, head on over there to check it out.

Overall, we are all super pleased with this product and give it two thumbs up! Everyone enjoyed the product, especially the Rigid Wrap! The great thing is that we have enough materials left that we will be able to make a mummy in a few weeks when we get to that in our ancient history study. If you like the idea of papier mache without all the mess associated with it, this is the product you should give a try.

Be sure to check out all the neat projects my CrewMates created by clicking the banner below.

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}

Company ~ ACTÍVA Products 
Price ~ $11.90 
Ages ~ kids
ACTÍVA Products
Social Media Links:

 •Facebook  Tag: @activaproductsinc • Twitter:Tag: @activaproducts •Pinterest Tag: @activaproducts • Instagram Tag: @activaproducts

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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, July 19, 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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mapelle Films: Trust Fund & Love was Near ~ a TOS review

It’s always fun when I get to spend the day with my older girls watching a movie together. I'm always on the look out for quality family movies so I was excited to receive the faith-based movie, Trust Fund from Mapelle Films. I also got to share the book Love Was Near with my three teenage daughters.

Trust Fund is a modern day Prodigal Son, well, Daughter story which you may recognize the theme from Luke 15 and was produced by a homeschooler from the 80’s named Isaac Alongi. In 2014 along with his wife, Sandra Martin, who wrote the story, they shot the film. Initially they had trouble getting the film released in the home entertainment market but now it is flourishing and I am excited to get the word out about this great film.

The movie focuses on the main character, Reese Donahue, played by Jessica Rothe, who is portrayed as the typical spoiled little rich girl with access to the finer things in life; a fancy apartment, beautiful clothes, and traveling to distant lands.. She is an aspiring writer living off her allowance from her father, a successful publisher played by Kevin Kilner, and book advance funds from her first book. When her father thinks she needs to take more responsibility as the young adult that she is, he suggests she get a job at the publishing company.

Quickly Reese becomes overwhelmed with her new career and starts to look for a way out. One day while rummaging through her dad’s office she discovers a secret her father has been keeping from her and her older, more responsible sister, Audrey (Louise Dylan). Upon their mother’s death, she left $10 million dollars for them in a trust fund. Instead of talking fully with her father she takes matters into her own hands and wire transfers half of the money to her own account and quickly takes off to Italy with her boyfriend, Milo (Sean Wing).

As you can imagine things don’t go as fairy tale like as Reese imagined and she eventually does come home to Daddy. But what consequences will she face? Is there room for forgiveness from her father, her sister? I don’t want to give away the movie so I am going to leave it right there and tell you to watch it for yourselves, you won’t be disappointed.

We also received the companion book Love Was Near that was written by Sandra Martin. Remember she wrote the movie too. The book is meant to be read after watching the movie and It offers a deeper look into the movie and exposes Reese’s thinking. It is written in a journal/diary type format. My daughter Madison enjoyed reading it.

I watched this movie with my three older girls who are 20, 16, and 14. The movie is Dove Family Approved for ages 12+ and families with younger children can watch it together. While the story line may seem to be predictable, there is plenty of drama and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. It is rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief scenes of smoking, but other than that it is a clean movie. My soon to be 11-year-old wants to watch it, and I am comfortable enough with it the theme so we will have a girl’s night and I’ll watch it again with her and use the free study guide that offers scripture and discussion questions.

As a family we give this movie two thumbs up. Check out the trailer and then get your hands on a copy! To see what my CrewMates thought of this movie and the book, click on the banner below.

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Company ~ Mapelle Films
 Product ~ Trust Fund & Love Was Near
Format ~ DVD movie, paperback book
Price ~ $12.99 book
Ages ~ 12 +
Mapelle Films
Social Media Links: 

Facebook: Tag @TrustFundMovie   ~ Twitter Tag @TrustFundMovie   ~ 
Pinterest Tag @trustfundmovie   ~ Instagram  Tag @trustfundmovie   

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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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 ~ 2018 Plan of Study

I am excited to be penning this post! I have planned and re-planned the courses with the input of my older girls for weeks now and its great being able to finally say they are finalized. I know I enjoy seeing what others have planned for their own homeschoolers, but I worry about what image I am unknowingly projecting. Please know that I plan big and have high expectations of myself and my children, yet we fail in one fashion or another every single day. I know what they are individually capable of and the push and pull is a grace filled one.

I may seem to have it all together but know I struggle just like you with insecurities in educating my children to the best of my God-given ability. There are many days that I wonder if I am able, but He equips me each and every day with confidence! The one thing I have learned over the last nine years is to do what works for our family and my children. Yes, it’s easier said than done at times…but like they say the grass is not always greener on the other side. Granted it has taken me several years to get this much-needed concept, but it is so freeing when you do!

This year we will have a Junior, Freshman, 5th grader, 2nd grader, and a PK3er. It’s quite a span of learning but I am excited for the challenge. Each child has a specific area that we will focus on throughout the year with them. I hope my pouring into their focus area will lead to good fruits down the road, it is after all a marathon and not a sprint. This year I am so excited to be at a place where we can reuse most of our curriculum. The bulk of our curriculum budget went to my highschooler's as we have on hand the majority of our Dialectic and Grammar stage curriculum. My older girls asked to switch up our normal Sabbath schooling schedule of 6 weeks on, 1 week off. So, we are going to try 9 weeks on, with a 1 week break in between. We will school 6 days a week for Mikayla because of her gymnastics training schedule and for anyone who does not finish their weekly assignments. With this schedule, we will have 18 weeks done by the start of our Christmas break on December 15th.

***Like always, none of the links below are affiliate links. They are just for reference for me***

Madison is going to be a Junior this year and thus the process for applying to her dream school of the U.S. Air Force Academy (and U.S. Naval Academy) will begin in the spring. Her and I both have already put in countless hours of research and studying on her part. It’s an exciting time as she pursues her dream of being a Cadet and future Astrophysicist. She is a smart girl and we have concluded that it is time for her to learn the majority of her work from outside teachers so she will get the challenge that she craves and needs. Most of her classes will be online this year and she will also continue her trend of two full course science classes. However, this year she has chosen Meteorology to study in addition to physics and there is not a whole lot out there for homeschoolers so with her help we are designing a semester long course for her. Her course load will be as follows:

Bible ~ Bible Road Trip, Year 1: Books of the Law and History, Rhetoric level
Math ~ Saxon Advanced Mathematics (Pre-Calculus) with lecture instruction from Art Reed DVD’s and mom
Honors Science ~ Apologia Physics with Dr. Wile (online)
English 3 ~ AP English Language (online) PA Homeschoolers with Mrs. Inspecktor
History ~ AP US Government (online) PA Homeschoolers with Mrs. Reed
Foreign Language ~ Spanish 3 with Homeschool Spanish Academy (online)
PE ~ Varsity softball with SCA (Spring 4 days/week)
      ~ preparing for academy application Physical Readiness Test (PRT)
~ Honors Meteorology (one semester course)
~ Economics (one semester) *most likely online with Alpha Omega’s Monarch program.
~ Digital Savvy Computer course (she has completed first semester just needs to finish 2nd semester) ~ Driver’s Ed (never completed in 10th grade)
~ Essentials of Communication (one semester)
 ~ PSAT/ACT 1 hr/day
 ~ Girl Scout Ambassador
~ Complete Girl Scout Gold Award {equivalent to Boy Scout Eagle Scout}
 ~ Community Service with the National Exchange Club

 Total credits: 9 credits

* Madison will sit for the AP English Language and AP US Government exams in the Spring of 2018.

Mikayla is jumping into the Rhetoric level of learning this year too! This summer we have started navigating the NCAA Clearinghouse waters as she would like to compete Division I gymnastics in college. It’s a whole world of muddy water that is getting clearer each and every day with research and communicating with other homeschooling families who have “been there, done that”. I am confident that her high school level course load will live up to NCAA standards and pass review when the time comes. Mikayla is eager to start 9th grade year because she knows she is getting closer to meeting her goal of being a collegiate gymnast. She doesn’t know which Division 1 school she would like to compete with just yet, but being on the campus of Michigan State University for Lv9 Eastern’s this past April really made an impression on her.

Morning Time Recitations
Bible ~ Bible Road Trip, Year 1: Books of the Law and History, Dialectic level
Math ~ Saxon Algebra 1 with Geometry using lecture instruction from Art Reed DVD’s and mom Honors Science ~ Apologia Biology with Red Wagon Tutorials lectures along with Fascinating Biology video lectures
Honors English 1
 ~ Rod &Staff Grammar, book 8
 ~ Vocabulary from Classical Roots, books B & C
 ~ Bell Ringer Journal / Current events
 ~ Literature: Selected short stories – A White Heron, The Diamond Necklace, The Ransom Red Chief, The Purloined Letter, A Worn Path, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Mara, Daughter of the Nile with study guide 
Memoria Press The Iliad and The Odyssey Set
To Kill a Mockingbird with study guide 
The Aeneid with study guide
Jane Eyre with study guide 
The Eagle of the Ninth with study guide
The Miserables with study guide 
 ~ Composition: selections from both Excellence in Literature and Writing With Skill 2
 ~ Read-Alouds from MTR
Honors History of the Ancient World ~ Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 at Rhetoric level with online co-op. She will complete Accountability and Thinking questions, geography map work, charts, and a timeline
Foreign Language ~ Spanish 1 with Alpha Omega LifePac with Homeschool Spanish Academy  for conversation/immersion speaking (online)
PE ~ Level 10 gymnastics, 30 hours a week
~ Latin: Memoria Press Second Form Latin
~ History of Fine Arts 1
~ Keyboarding: Typing for Christian Service
~ PSAT prep 30 minutes/day

Total credits: 8.5 credits

Montana is jumping into the world of logic learning this year for 5th grade. She is my first student to be homeschooled from the beginning and it has been challenging and rewarding seeing what works for her as a learner. She is now a voracious reader but not a huge fan of math. Hopefully as the years go on she will start to like math a little more, especially since she plans to be a zoologist or a veterinarian.

Morning Time Recitations 
Bible ~ Bible Road Trip, Year 1: Books of the Law and History, Upper Grammar level
Math ~ Saxon 6/5 with DIVE
          ~ Times Alive! 
          ~ The Moffatt Girls Multiplication: The Bundle 
Science ~ Real Science Odyssey: Biology 2 
Language Arts ~ Rod & Staff, book 5
                           ~ Writing With Ease 4
                           ~ Rod & Staff Spelling 6 
                           ~ Vocabulary from Classical Roots, book A
                           ~ Tapestry of Grace Literature
                           ~ The Good & Beautiful Handwriting, Level 6 
History/Geography/Fine Arts ~ Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 at the Dialectic Level (online co-op)
Health ~ Health for the Glory of God 
Logic ~ BrainBogglers
          ~ Detective Club Mysteries
Foreign Language ~ Memoria Press Latina Christiana 
PE ~ Pop Warner Cheerleading in the fall, Softball in the Spring
~ Girl Scout Junior
~ Complete Girl Scout Bronze Award
~ Awana TNT

McKenzie is heading into 2nd grade full steam ahead! She is an eager learner who loves math and science. She still is struggling a bit with reading, but from past experience I know this will pass and she will catch on when ready. To do my part we will have a phonics intensive review year. Sounds daunting but I found some great curriculum options to make it a fun hands-on learning experience which is right up her alley. McKenzie is a gymnast, like Mikayla, so we will be scheduling her schooling around gym time. But she loves to do school so I never have any issues with her wanting to complete her lessons after a long day in the gym.

Morning Time Recitations 
Bible ~ Bible Road Trip, Year 1: Books of the Law and History, Lower Grammar level
Math ~ Saxon 2/3 *She will finish her Saxon 2 by Christmas break
          ~ Addition and Subtraction (Mastering Math Facts)
Science ~ Real Science Odyssey: Life 1 
Language Arts / Phonics Monthly NO PREP Packets 
                                           ~ Rod & Staff , book 2 with The Moffatt Girls 2nd Grade LA and Grammar 
                                           ~ Writing With Ease 1 
                                           ~ Fluency Strips™
                                           ~ Veritas Press Phonics Museum App
                                           ~ Hands-On Phonics
                                           ~ Hands-On Sight Words for spelling
                                           ~ Sonlight Readers 2
                                           ~ The Good & Beautiful Handwriting, Level 4 
                                           ~ Hands-On Morning Tubs 
History/Geography ~ Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 at the Lower Grammar Level
                                  ~ Story of the World {Vol.1} Audio / activity guide
Foreign Language ~ Memoria Press Prima Latina 
PE ~ Level 3/4 gymnastics Team, TOPs Training, 18.5 hours a week
~ Girl Scout Brownie
~ Awana Sparky

How is it that my sweet baby boy is old enough for Preschool? Time flies guys! Before we know it, he will be ready for Kindergarten…but I am just going to stay in the preschool years and enjoy our time! I am not planning too much for Micah other than hands-on tubs, some online learning, and lots of reading. We will follow a curriculum plan loosely, picking activities from a few here and there, however, the main focus will be fun, hands-on learning in bite sized chunks.

 ~ ABC Mouse
 ~ Hands-On Morning Tubs {activities culled from curricula above}
 ~ Awana Cubbies 

 Plus any curriculum blessing we receive as we sail with the TOS Homeschool Crew. Have you picked your upcoming curriculum? If so, I would love to see what you are planning! Come back next week and check out our updated school room!

©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, July 13, 2017

Fascinating Education: Fascinating Biology ~ a TOS review

Now that you have reached the high school years and it’s time to start thinking about high school science. With so many curriculum choices available out there it is easy to get overwhelmed…very quickly. High school science can be so intimidating for some homeschooling families, but it doesn’t have to be! Even if science is not your gift you can still confidently give your child a solid college prep level science class with the help of Fascinating Education.

Mikayla, my rising 9th grader, and I have had the privilege to review an online high school science curriculum from Fascinating Education called Fascinating Biology for the last six weeks. Since Dr. Margulies firmly believes that much of biology is based on the chemical properties of the components of cells, it is smart to start with Fascinating Chemistry. If you prefer the more traditional route of study, biology, chemistry, physics, then if it is recommended that you take the Chemistry Pre-Course to be fully prepared for Fascinating Biology. This is available as a $20 add-on. We choose this option for Mikayla and was gifted access to the course too.

Fascinating Education is the brain child of Dr. Margulies, a neurologist who understands how the brain works, who created this program to teach middle and high school students. Because of his extensive study of the brain, Dr. Margulies knows the ins and outs of how the brain works, including the way we learn, how we retrieve stored information, how we focus our attention, and how motivation and emotion affect our learning.

Fascinating  Physics

Instead of using a written text as the primary teaching tool, Dr. Margulies teaches science by using the right hemisphere of the brain with colorful illustrations and audio files to supplement written text. This is the perfect combination for my visual/auditory leaner. In this self paced online course your student will learn the basic principles of biology including:

~ the components of life 
~ cell membranes 
~ taking in nutrients 
~ creating chemical energy 
~ growing and repairing 
~ reproducing 
~ maintaining a stable internal environment 
~ adapting to a changing external environment 
~ plants 

There are a total of 18 course lessons that can be done over the course of a school year. Course lessons are presented in a table format to access to lessons, text scripts, and tests that correlate with each lesson. I really liked that each topic is broken down into bite-sized chunks so you are not having to digest a lot of information all at once. Dr. Marseilles understands the importance of reviewing the material, so there are several opportunities to do so before moving on to the next lesson. Getting started is as easy as signing up for your course and logging in. After being logged in, simply click on the appropriate course and you will be directed to the lessons.

Mikayla is on the track to be a Collegiate gymnast. With that said, we have entered the world of NCAA guidelines and requirements with her starting 9th grade. One of which is when she can officially start high school level courses. We found out after the review started that she would not be able to dive into the Biology course full fledge because she has 8 semesters in which to complete her core courses. We can not count any course she takes in the summer before 9th grade without it negatively affecting her status. With that said, we have held off on using the full Biology portion of the program and just concentrated on the Chemistry pre-course. It will not go on her transcript and is just for fun learning.

Fascinating Chemistry

Using the Chemistry pre-course, which is basically the first 6 lessons of the full Chemistry program, was a perfect fit for Mikayla. She would log on to the site and watch the prescribed number of slides that we had scheduled for that day. I would test her comprehension and knowledge with the included PDF scripts included with each lesson by printing them out double sided. If she wasn’t able to answer my questions from the scripts she would go back and re-watch the the lesson. We only had to do that twice :-)

Fascinating  Physics

Come our first day of school on July 31st, Mikayla will jump into the Biology course full fledge using this program as a supplement to our current science curriculum. I did the same thing with great success with Madison a few years ago. However, with that said, I want you, my reader, to know that this is a stand alone course that is chock full of information. It does not have to be a supplement it can stand alone! The sheer amount of information presented is very thorough manner and I love the built in review, especially since there is so much vocabulary involved in Biology.

This is the perfect curriculum for my visual and auditory learner! Mikayla will be so prepared for biology using this program. Be sure to check out the links and see if you think this would be a good fit for your family. Also be sure to click the banner below and read what my CrewMates thought of Fascinating Biology and the other two programs, Fascinating Chemistry, and Fascinating Physics, being reviewed.

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}

Company ~ Fascinating Education 
Product ~ Fascinating Biology 
Format ~ online 
Price ~ $79.00
Ages ~ high school

Fascinating Education
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Wednesday, July 5, 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.