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, November 30, 2017

Finishing up the year

***affiliate links provided***

Hi there friends!

We start our school year in the beginning of August so we are finishing up week 16 at our house! Just two more weeks to go to the end of our 1st semester. Wowzers, this year has flown by so quickly! It's getting to be the end of the year and I wanted to tell you again how much both of my girls are enjoying their lessons with Homeschool Spanish Academy.

Mikayla just took a test today and scored a 92% while Madison scored an 89% on her Spanish 3 tests. They are both doing fabulous and I am confident that if Madison was stranded somewhere in a Spanish speaking country she could communicate with the locals. Mikayla is getting there too, but she is just in Spanish 1 learning the basics.

Don't get me wrong though, she does not speak very much English when online in class with her teacher. It's Spanish only right from the start of class. I love that immersion based aspect of the course. Dive right in and the teacher is there for healthy guidance and correction. Just as you correct your young child when they are learning to speak.

Until the end of 2017 you get $10 off your purchase of HSA classes using this link.

I just wanted to let you know that right now, Homeschool Spanish Academy is having an end of the year sale! What better time than now to give the gift of learning a new language.

©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, November 29, 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. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis ~ a TOS review

Today I am excited to share with you my last review of the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. If you are looking to do a few changes in the high school writing department, keep reading because today I am sharing with you the new homeschool high school writing program from Writing with Sharon Watson called Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

If you are not familiar with the products by Sharon Watson let me tell you a little bit more about her. 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 

Our Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis includes for following products:

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Teacher’s Guide: this book contains everything you need to be a successful writing teacher for your child. All the monthly lesson plans, grading grids, and answers to questions asked in the student textbook are found in this guide. There is even information on how to start your own monthly book club if that’s your sort of thing.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Student Textbook: This textbook includes everything your student needs to be successful as a writer. Background information and interesting author facts are also included. Within this program, students read complete novels, not just short passages.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Quiz and Answer Manual: this manual is completely optional but a life saver for those who prefer to have your child take written tests on paper instead of online. This manual also includes all the literary term quizzes, the “Yes, I read it” quizzes, and the opinion surveys for each book or short story. *If you prefer digital and saving paper, you also have free access to all the online quizzes and opinion surveys online by clicking HERE.

*You must have the textbook or Teacher’s Guide to obtain the passwords though.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Novel Notebook in a FREE PDF download: This is a required part of the course and is available as a free download and coordinates with the textbook. Throughout the course the student answers question, collects information and draws conclusions about what they have been reading. I printed this notebook at home and bound it for ease of usage. You can also put it in a 3-ring binder. Over the course of using this writing curriculum your child will learn almost 100 literary terms and devices. They also will be reading good, quality novels and stories. There is no room for twaddle here!

Below is a list of the stories and books read during the course:

 • “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, in the textbook
 • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dover Publications 
• Silas Marner by George Eliot, Dover Publications
 • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, Dover Publications 
o An Assortment of Short Stories:
 o “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, in the textbook
 o “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges, link provided
 o “Haircut” by Ring Lardner, link provided
 o “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank Stockton, in the textbook 
o “Of the Passing of the First-Born” by W. E. B. Du Bois, in the textbook
 o “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas, link provided 
• Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Dover Publications
 • Biography or autobiography of student’s choice
 • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Mariner Books

This curriculum is perfect for college-prep work and reluctant readers alike and is especially written for Christian high schoolers, homeschools, and co-op settings for grades: 9-12. The course is written to the student with easy to follow homework schedules and directions. With two semesters of work your child will earn 1 high school credit with completion of the course.

This review came at the perfect time for us! I needed to make a switch with Mikayla’s writing program as it just was not working. The catch to that is that Mikayla’s courses all have to be high school level material. Because Mikayla is interested and on the track to be a NCAA Collegiate gymnast, all of her courses must be high school level work and they have to be approved by the NCAA. I have no doubt that this homeschool writing curriculum will be approved with the rest of the courses that make up her English 1 class when we submit our courses because it is so thorough.

This course has been lifesaver! Not only is Mikayla able to work somewhat independently on the assignments I am able to see that she does indeed understand with the included quizzes to test her knowledge of the novel and stories. Mikayla enjoyed having the online quiz option the most and she was able to complete her assignments while at the gym on training break. She is still plowing through Frankenstein but with great success and we hope to finish before Christmas break.

Overall, we have truly enjoyed his program and give it two thumbs up! The cover is stunning and I find myself staring at it all the time. It meets our needs for a writing curriculum and as I said before I have no doubt that it will pass the NCAA scrutiny. Having one less thing to worry about with this program is a huge blessing! If you want to check it out yourself, you’re in luck! You can download free sample chapters, grading grids, and quizzes on the course page by clicking HERE or on this one:

Don’t just take my word for it, check out what my CrewMates thought of this by clicking the banner below.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

 Price ~ Teacher’s Guide $18, Student Textbook $43, Quiz and Answer Manual, $9, Novel Notebook FREE 
 Ages ~ College Prep, 9th-12th

Writing with Sharon Watson

Social Media Links: 

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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, November 15, 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. 

Forbrain: Sound for Life LTD ~ a TOS review

We are getting to the end of this Crew year and today I am excited to tell you about a product that has literally changed our homeschooling for the better! Last year we were blessed to receive a Forbrain from the Sound For Life LTD to use. We shared it between Mikayla (14 years-old), Montana (11 years-old),  and McKenzie (8 years-old) and it got a workout between the three of them. This year, we were blessed to receive a second one so that the girls would not need to share and I have seen even greater improvement in focus, speech, and memorization in both girls!

God designed an awesome thing when he gave us our brain. Our approximately 3-pound organ is essentially the crown jewel of our body and does everything from initiating movement to controlling behavior and interpreting our senses. It is our powerhouse and over the course of this review period I have found that my daughters have improved their attention span and comprehension just by using the Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD for 15-20 minutes a day.

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD

SOUND FOR LIFE Ltd, is the company that produces this FORBRAIN. Their mission is to enhance individual’s cognitive abilities, i.e. attention, speech, memory, reading, comprehension, and language with bone conduction through regular practice. The state of the art device they created with the help of Aftershokz LLC, is portable and easy to use.

Forbrain Sound for Life LTDMikayla and McKenzie both struggle in their own ways with reading fluency and comprehension. This gem of a gadget not only helps them focus but it gives them confidence in their reading ability and that in and of itself is priceless! Just by using their voices they have been boosting their brain!

As I mentioned earlier, Forbrain is a bone conduction headset that works to stimulate your brain through the sound of your own voice. Have you heard your own voice lately? Like really heard how you sound. It is fascinating how this device transmits the vibrations from your voice to the bones just in front of your ears, resulting in bone conduction.

Wait, bone what?! Are you a bit confused because I was when we first learned about this process? Essentially, sound waves are transmitted through the bones in our heads. The bones vibrate and the sound travels along the cochlea vestibule nerve in the inner ear, eardrum and middle ear. This vibration causes nerve impulses and connects the sounds that we hear to our brains.

But you know what? Sometimes the natural process by which everyone hears sounds is interrupted causing problems with attention, concentration, working memory, and or short term memory. Using Forbrain for as little as 15-20 minutes a day for reading, speaking, or just general everyday talking you can stimulate your auditory reception and processing.

The Forbrain product is made up of a microphone, two bone conduction transduces, the parts that fit just in front of your ears, and the rectangular dynamic filter on the right-hand side which controls the power and volume. When my girls were sharing one, it was always a battle of who would use it first and when. The device is powered by a charge from a USB cord that is included. It all comes packaged in a neat little black case with extra mouth piece covers for the microphone, the user manual, and quick start guide.

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
Using the Forbrain is as simple as placing the headphones around the back part of your head with the ear pieces sitting on the two bones in front of your outer ears. The device comes adjusted to the right volume out of the box. Just adjust the volume to your liking and position the microphone to a comfortable place near your mouth and you will begin to hear your voice. But first you need to let it charge up for a full 3 hours before the first use. Charging was simple. Just plug it into one of your computers USB ports. The light on the dynamic filter is red while it charges. Once the charging cycle is complete, the red light will turn off. A brilliant blue light will shine when the headset is on. I also went over instructions for its usage, because I must tell you this product is not cheap! It retails for $299 USD but if you have a child struggling, it is worth its weight in gold! It really is sort of magical to actually hear your voice!

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
The Forbrain is recommended for children aged 4 and up for daily use over a course of six to ten weeks. It’s not just for children either, the elderly can use it too. Children aged 4-5 years old should use the product for roughly 10 minutes a day, while older children aged 6 through 15 are recommend to use the device for 15 minutes. Older teens, adults, and elderly should use the Forbrain daily for 10-30 minutes. The device should be used for a period of 10 weeks, then take a break and start the cycle again. We are currently on schedule to take a two week break from using the Forbrain over the Christmas holiday, but I know my girls will be eager to start back up in January.

I used this product exclusively with my two youngest daughters who are 14 & 8. They each used their own bone conduction headset for the allotted time for their ages. I labeled each of the cases with a color-coded sticker so they would know which one was theirs. I also keep them stored up on top of the lockers out of the reach of my three-year-old. Mikayla is able to reach hers when needed and I or someone else tall enough gets McKenzie’s down when it is time for her daily usage. Both girls have a specific area I was trying to help them with from reading comprehension, memory, and attention span. Mikayla has shown tremendous improvement in her reading comprehension and reading rhythm. Her memory is improving so much along with her confidence!

She used to read so fast without any pause and in such a monotone voice. Now that she has the headset on she can actually hear how she sounds and has made great strides in slowing down and reading. Her comprehension has skyrocketed too. She no longer reads a passage and cannot narrate back to me something she has read. I notice a remarkable difference in when she reads now with the Forbrain than when she reads without it! For this reason alone, I tend to not send schoolwork that she needs to read with her on her double training days at the gymnastics gym. For one, I don’t want it getting lost or broken, even though it comes in a handy sturdy carrying case, but she doesn’t like to draw attention to herself from her peers. Plus, if she doesn’t use the Forbrain we then have to reread the assignment when she returns home. So, we stick to reading aloud in the van as we travel to and from the gym or just save the reading for when training is over.

It was no easy task getting her to this point though. It has taken many well needed hours because I want her to be successful in reading and life itself, especially since she will be transitioning to University in four short years. And YES, she will be taking her Forbrain with her if she still needs it! Anyways, to get her to where she is currently reading and comprehending well, I used the Echo and Accompanying technique, in which I overlaid my voice with hers. I would begin reading the passage and she would pick up {+/-} one second lag. It was hard tedious work, because she is a teenager and thinks she knows everything, but once she started seeing little results each day she was more eager to try and didn’t fuss too much.

For McKenzie I am just wanting her to read aloud with the device on so she can hear her voice and gain fluency. Every day she reads aloud to me with the Forbrain on. Yes, this child lives in a's the life of a gymnast. I have just recently started trying the Echo and Accompanying technique with her, but it throws her off so she are just going to focus on reading fluently and rhythm for right now. McKenzie has struggled with reading from the beginning, but since using the Forbrain she is making huge strides. She is my special little miracle baby who had so many things stacked against her when she came into this world at 33 weeks. Her hearing and eyesight have always been issues. Now that she can see and more importantly hear the sounds the letters make to form words she has been soaring. McKenzie is a petite girl (about the size of an average 4 year old for reference), and the headset does not always fit right on her head perfectly. To remedy this, I tell her that if she stopped hearing herself to tell me so that I could adjust the headset. This is less of an issue than before because she has grown a tiny bit.

Bottom line is that we love this product! It has changed the way my children are learning and for that I am especially grateful for the opportunity to use it and tell you about it. If your child struggles with speech or attention problems, seriously consider looking into the Forbrain. This is an amazing product and we using it daily in our homeschool. The improvement I have seen in my girl’s makes me a lifetime fan. I can wait until my son is just a bit older to use it with him for vocabulary development to give him a head start. Right now he is just a little too hands on and rough and I would hate for our bone conduction headset to get broken.

 Forty-four of my CrewMates were also able to test out the Forbrain and write down their thoughts about it. Be sure to click the banner below to read their thoughts.

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
Company ~ Sound for Life LTD 
 Product ~ Forbrain 
 Price ~ $299.00 
 Ages ~ 4 through elderly

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
Social Media Links: 

Facebook  ~ Twitter ~ LinkedIn

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. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Do you need to go a different direction?

Hey there friend! How’s your school year going? It’s almost the holidays and I know just how busy things get. Can I offer a little advice as a somewhat season homeschool mom? Give yourself some grace! Even if you are not where you hoped to be in your lesson plans, your kids are learning.

If you need to make the switch in curriculum, now is a good time to start researching and planning for when you start back after the new year. If you are looking for foreign language credits in Spanish, look no further than Homeschool Spanish Academy! My girls are thriving with the program and adore their teacher, Nora. With this program you get one-on-one lessons from your home right through you computer screen. It’s like having a personal native speaker right in your home. And you know what, the teacher actually builds a relationship with your child and knows who they are. You’re not just another client with HSA, but apart of the bigger community of Spanish learners.

So, if you are looking to make a change for the new year, click on over at the banner above {affiliate link} and take a FREE class. I think you’ll love what you see and see the reason why so many families are turning to Homeschool Spanish Academy for there foreign language credit needs.

©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, November 9, 2017

Thinking Like an Engineer: Innovators Tribe ~ a TOS review

Over the last few years we’ve all heard the buzz about STEM and/or STEAM courses. You know, Science, Techonology, Engineering, {Arts}, Math courses. As a homeschooler you may find yourself wondering just how you go about offering those type of courses to your children, right? I was definitely wondering the same thing, so you are not alone. If you are looking for a hands on approach to exploring applied science, I suggest you check out Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.

Innovators Tribe is taught by Mr.K and provides teachers and homeschool parent/teachers with hands-on STEM curriculum to help children become the best they can be in Technology Engineering Education. We received a 2-year subscription to the Thinking Like an Engineer course that is online and self-paced. A single subscription can be used for your entire family which is a huge plus for large family learning.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Thinking Like an Engineer is an online, hands-on course where your student will learn all about the exciting career opportunity of a professional engineer. There are many types of engineers and they are mostly associated with the applied sciences, technology, and design fields as professional problem solvers. With this course, you get to hang out with these professionals and see what its really like to be one.

Innovators Tribe What You Get

If you want a curriculum that makes your 6th-12th grader excited about doing school, then definitely look at this course! Your student will learn how to:

~ design and build towers, structures, water filters, and many other fun designs 
~ design and build a roller coaster, bridge, and Rube Goldberg machine 
~ gain life experience using 3D CAD software that is included with the course 

The entire course is approximately 30 hours long including the fun activities I mentioned above and can be used as a component of your existing science curriculum or as a one-fourth credit elective course. For $149.00 you will get the powerful CAD design software, self-paced interactive lessons, exercise journals, design challenges, and exciting hands-on activities. But guess what, right now you can get all of this for just $96.00!

While this course is not a live class, you get an awesome instruction with the self-paced, interactive online lessons that it almost feels as if you are in a live lecture. This awesome program is compatible on PC’s and MAC’s. There are minimum computer technology requirements for optimal performance. They include:

PC Minimum
• Windows 64-bit 10 / 8 / 7 
• Multi-core processor 
• 4 GB of memory (64-bit) 
• Video Card1 with  512 MB of memory and OpenGL 3.3 or higher 
• 5 GB of available hard disk space 
• Internet access 

 Mac Minimum
 • Sierra / El Capitan 
• Multi-core processor
 • 4 GB of memory 
• Video Card1 with 512 MB of memory and Open GL 4.1 or higher
 • 5 GB of available hard disk space 
• Internet access 

In our homeschool, we have been slowly plugging away at this course with my 5th, 9th, and 11th graders for fun. Initially, I planned to use this as an elective for my 11th grader, but right now she is swamped with two AP classes and an Honors class. Instead, we have been working through the course a little at a time on the weekends when things are not so busy. Since we are taking our time through the course I do not plan to give my 11th grader or my 9th grader one-fourth credit and just chalk it up to fun hands-on learning. Because who doesn’t like to design their own rollercoaster ride!

Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe is the perfect way for my daughters to explore the fields of applied science, design, and technology. Be sure to see what my CrewMates thought of this STEM curriculum or the Thinking Like an Architect curriculum that was also reviewed by clicking the banner below.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

Company ~ Innovators Tribe
 Format ~ self-paced, online 
Price ~ Orginially $149.00, but on sale for $96.00 
Ages ~ 6th-12th graders

Innovators Tribe

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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, November 8, 2017

Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip Inc. ~ a TOS review & Giveaway

Being apart of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Homeschool Review Crew has been an amazing opportunity for my family! We have been introduced to so many great products over the years and I am forever grateful for each and every review we have been on. And to think that I almost didn’t submit my application when I was first starting out as a blogger!

Today I can’t wait to share one of our family’s favorite products, Kwik Stix’s! We love, love, LOVE the Thin Stix line and my kids craved more colors. We were excited to receive Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review this time!

You know how I am always looking for new and fun ways to keep my littles busy while I am teaching the older girls or while we are out and about. One things McKenzie (8 years-old) and Micah (3 years-old) like to do, is paint. While I don’t mind pulling out the bottles of tempera paints or watercolors it’s always nice to have a quick mess free option too. We get just that when we utilize the Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. 

McKenzie and Micah were so excited when our creativity pack arrived! I barely had time to take pictures because they wanted to tear into the paints. Thin Stix just like the original Kwik Stix’s are solid, non-toxic tempera paint sticks that require no water or paint brushes to use. Thin Stix have a smaller tips for a smoother control or for more detailed painting.

No cups, smocks, brushes, or a single drop of water is needed to paint a masterpiece with these solid tempura paint sticks! They are sized just right for small hands and used just like a fat crayon or marker. The creativity possibilities are endless as kids simply draw or color with them. Perfect for your budding Picasso!
Thin Stix Creativity Pack
With a 90 second drying time and non-toxic formula, you can’t go wrong with these! This set includes 12 classic colors, 6 neon colors, and 6 metallic colors. The vibrant colors dry in just 90 seconds after coming in contact with your paper, cardboard, wood, or even canvas media. Just pop the cap off, twist the stick to make the paint rise up and you are ready for hours of fun painting. Plus, if you have allergies in your family you can rest assured that these paints are free from nuts, eggs, and are gluten free too!

I also, love that these are so portable. We have taken them to gymnastics and softball games near and far and they keep everyone busy and entertained on long meet days. I store the Thin Stixs and the original Kwik Stixs in pencil cases along with plenty of sketch paper for easy portability in our travel tote. Did I tell you we love these paint sticks! Someone in the house is using them on a daily basis.

Thin Stix's are extremely affordable at just $19.99 a set and with Christmas coming these will be a sure hit with everyone! They are so much fun and I have no problem letting Micah or McKenzie pull out the paints and start creating! If I told you a few years ago there was a such a thing as mess-free painting, I am not quite sure you would have believed me. But today, I am telling you that it is true and you can win your very own set below by entering my giveaway.

The people at the Pencil Grip are gracious enough to giveaway a set of Thin Stix Creativity Pack to one of my readers and that could be YOU! Just tell me your favorite color in a comment below, easy peasy! In case you wanted to know my favorite color is blue, any shade really. Next Wednesday (11/15/2017) I will randomly pick a winner. The winner will have 24 hours to contact me and the prize will be sent directly from The Pencil Grip company.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Price ~ $19.99 
 Ages ~ all ages
The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Social Media Links for Pencil Grip:

Facebook ~ Twitter @thepencilgrip Pinterest
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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.