This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 9th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

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



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MaxScholar: Reading Intervention Programs ~ a TOS review

We are in the thick of our summer learning studies and part of it includes daily reading time. I like to have our kiddos catch the reading bug at a young age. Light the fire young so to speak so I am a huge fan of free reading at our house for at least 20 minutes a day. While for most of my children this is not a “chore” a few do not enjoy reading time. That’s why I was excited to be able to review the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar with McKenzie and Micah.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs
MaxScholar was created to help students who have Dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD, processing problems, or for those who are just struggling to learn to read. The program is completely online and is based on the research methods of the Orton-Gillingham approach, the Lindamood-Bell Process©, and other phonics and reading comprehension strategies that offer systematic, multi-sensory learning.
Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}
Mikayla, my 10th grader has used this program in the past to help with comprehension so I was excited when we were offered to review it again. This time around, McKenzie, my 3rd grader, and Micah, my JrK’er, each used the program. Like last time, we received full access for one year to the Reading Intervention Programs which include:

MaxPhonics ~ based of the Orton-Gillingham method this is a multi-sensory program that prepares 3 to 7 year old’s for reading.

MaxReading ~ improves reading comprehension and introduces students to the concepts of summarizing, highlighting, and outlining in 13 levels. There is a placement test to see the best level to start with.

MaxWords ~ build vocabulary through reading and word parts knowledge all the while learning word parts and improving spelling. Learn prefixes, suffixes, Greek & Latin word roots, spelling rules, and syllabification.

MaxVocab ~ a dictionary with thousands of entries, definitions, and games to build the students vocabulary.

MaxMusic ~ play fun learning games while strengthening reading skills and learning music.

MaxPlaces ~ explore the world and check for reading comprehension with multiple choice questions.

MaxBios ~ meet famous people from the past and present from all over the world with these biographies.


My son, Micah, who is 4 is in the beginning stages of reading and he spent the majority of his time working on mastering letter recognition. After taking the placement test he was started at the very beginning of the program. The placement put her just where I know that he needed to start as he only knows the letters of his given name. Using this online program 2-3 days a week with him has been an enjoyable experience for both of us. I am still learning his learning style but I feel he gravitates towards online learning programs. The only issue he had specifically with this program was when it was time to trace the letters. Using the mouse to do this was difficult for him. Then in the middle of the night, you know, when I do my best thinking and brainstorming I thought to have him use the program on his iPad. Yes, that made the tracing so much easier for him!



McKenzie used the program 2 times a week also and focused on reading and vocabulary. She was placed into Level 3 and I think the placement was just the right challenge for her. She has since progressed to Level 4. She doesn’t necessarily enjoy reading for pleasure at this time because she would rather be flipping upside down. However, it is necessary so she completes her lessons without much complaint. She has enjoyed playing the games within the program. I have no complaints with her playing the games either as she is learning in the process. She found the word search game to be challenging as it included words backwards and she was not use to that format. The Hangman game was her favorite game overall.




Overall, I am truly happy with both of my kids MaxScholar progress. It has served us well over the course of the last few weeks as a great supplement to our summer learning. The changes to the program include a more streamlined experience as well as the graphics have been updated. The site is easy to navigate even for my son. I think all the changes, bit and small have made the program streamlined and easy to use for kids and adults alike. Both McKenzie and Micah will continue to use this reading program through the end of our subscription.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program also by clicking the banner below!

Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}
Company ~ MaxScholar 
 Format ~ online 
 Ages ~ 3 and up

MaxScholar
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wordless Wednesday



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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wordless Wednesday



© 2008 - 2018 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, June 5, 2018

The Critical Thinking Co.™: Understanding Pre-Algebra ~ a TOS review

We have always loved all the curriculum we have used from The Critical Thinking Co.™ so I jumped at the opportunity to review Understanding Pre-Algebra for my logic loving daughter, Montana. We used this new book from The Critical Thinking Co.™ as a supplement for our summer learning, let me tell you a little more about it.


The Critical Thinking Co.™

The Critical Thinking Co. is a family-owned business that has been “empowering the mind” for more than 50 years. They sell critical thinking products/supplements that cover reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history. Instead of rote drilling and memorization, students are encouraged to “carefully analyze what they are learning.” The Critical Thinking Co. is on a mission to develop the critical thinking skills in all children. The Language Arts book is available in either book form or Windows PC download.

Understanding Pre-Algebra

I requested a digital copy of the book that includes 448 pages! I find that this format works best for our family because I have several children behind Montana who will eventually use this book too. I especially appreciate the generous copywrite The Critical Thinking Co. provides in letting the purchaser to make as many copies of the pages within the eBook as necessary for their family. This is extremely helpful to me as I try to provide quality learning materials for my family. This product is also available as a paperback, and carries the same “family” copywrite provisions if you have multiple children to use this book. This is something that as a large family homeschooler I appreciate.


This book is written for children in the 6th through 8th grade and teaches math concepts and thinking skills that a child will need to be successful in Algebra I and higher level math courses. The curriculum is marketed as a full curriculum and I will say that it definitely is meaty in the focus and teaching. Math is not Montana’s favorite subject like some of my other children and the concepts don’t always come easily to her. Since we are already on summer break, Montana has been using this math book three days a week to prepare her for next year’s math curriculum. I put little green and red sticker flags on the pages so she would know where to start and finish her lesson.


The book covers a lot of material within the 15 chapters included. You can get an in-depth look at the table of contents on the website, however, these are the 15 Chapters covered: 

 • Family of Numbers
 • Working With Integers
 • Working With Rational Numbers
 • Ratio, Proportion, and Percent
 • Percent Applications
 • Algebraic Expressions
 • Equations and Solving Word Problems
 • Inequalities and Applications
 • Understanding Square Roots and Irrational Numbers
 • Two Dimensional Geometry
 • Understanding Volume and Surface Area
 • Graphing on the Coordinate Plane
 • Transformations and Congruency
 • Understanding Functions
 • Probability and Statistics



This math curriculum is standards-based and stresses practice and critical thinking when teaching the concepts through short lessons. Charts, diagrams, pictures, and graphs are in color with clearly presented concepts and math vocabulary your child will be set up for success for future higher level mathematics. Important information is highlighted so the student knows they should pay attention to it. There is a chapter review at the end of each chapter to show you where you need a little extra help. A glossary and several reference sheets including a table of square roots 1-120 are found in the back of the book along with the answer key.



Since we choose the digital edition of the book that requires using a Windows operating system, and I printed out the first the first two chapters of and placed them in a working binder for Montana. Normally, during a school year the student would complete two pages per school day and that would ensure you finished by the end of the school year. Montana also worked on two pages a day, four days a week during our review period. Instead of skipping around the book, which is fine, we started from page one just so she has a firm grasp on the concepts she is learning.



I really like that this book makes Montana put her thinking cap on. This book was challenging for her in a good way. Several of the answers not only want the answer but they want you to explain your thinking. To me this is priceless! Anyone can put numbers into a formula and come up with the answer, but this book teaches you to think “why” and “how” you came to your conclusion.


We definitely will be continuing with this book for the rest of the summer and throughout next school year. Since starting this math curriculum Montana has a good grasp of pre-Algebra knowledge and so have I. We both especially enjoyed the Cowboy story found within Chapter 2 on multiplying and dividing integers. So much so, that I made a copy for my rising 10th grader as she has been struggling a bit with this concept. The story helped to give her a visual and now she is not making sign mistakes within her Algebra I work.

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

I think this is a great book and if you are searching for a math curriculum move Understanding Pre-Algebra to the top of your list! In all the products we have tried, this company has never steered me wrong. Be sure to check out the other products including Critical Thinking Detective Book 1Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Dare to Compare Level 1 , and Vocabulary Riddles Book 1 that my CrewMates reviewed from The Critical Thinking Co. by clicking the banner below.

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

 Format ~ digital eBook, for Windows platform only 
 Price ~ $42.99 
 Ages ~ 6th – 8th graders

The Critical Thinking Co.™

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Home School Navigator: Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum ~ a TOS review

A few weeks ago I needed to go a different direction with our language arts studies. Nothing drastic, but I needed a little break because I was getting overwhelmed with everything life was throwing at me. God is good when He sends a program that will help you get over a “slump”. For the past few weeks, Montana (5th grade) and McKenzie (2nd grade) have been using the Indigo and Yellow Levels of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum from Home School Navigator.


We received access to Home School Navigator for one year and it filled the need I had when I was overwhelmed. This program takes the worry out of teaching reading, writing, and grammar for my elementary aged students. One of the best features of this program is that it doesn’t label students based off grade, because we all know that different students work at different abilities. Instead, they have labeled each of the six levels of their program by color. The levels include: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. Here is a reference guide to choosing a level:


 • RED: Letter recognition and formation. (Approx. K)
 • ORANGE Reading simple words and sentences and beginning to write. (Approx. 1st grade)
 • YELLOW Reading simple stories and can write complete sentences. (Approx. 2nd grade)
 • GREEN Can read short chapter books and is writing longer passages. (Approx. 3rd grade)
 • BLUE Reading chapter books and is writing in paragraph form. (Approx. 4th grade)
 • INDIGO Can read longer chapter books, critique ideas and write longer pieces of writing. (Approx. 5th grade)

 You can take a look at the scope and sequence HERE.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}
Each level of the Home School Navigator course includes:
 ~ 36 weeks of instruction
~ 60 instructional videos
~ Daily lesson plans that include reading, writing, poetry, and a word study program with a word wall ~ Engaging activities that cater to multiple learning styles
~ Portfolio

Home School Navigator

At the beginning of the program we had access to all levels for both of the girls. Choosing a level to start with was easy for McKenzie but a little more challenging for Montana. While Montana is an avid above level reader she still needs a little more work on the mechanics of language arts. I ended up starting and keeping both girls at their appropriate grade levels the program recommends. Logging them on and setting up their accounts was really simple. I just logged in myself and then set up a user name and password for their separate accounts.


Two days a week the girls would log into their account and complete a section of the work required for the day. Some days that included watching a video and other days it required Montana to do some reading. Everything you need for this comprehensive program is right at your fingertips! Well, actually you need to supply the literature but those can be found in your local library if not on your own bookshelf. We actually did not have the Holes book Montana was scheduled to read, but a quick trip to the library filled that need.



Overall, we have enjoyed using this language arts curriculum. It came at the right time when I needed a change of pace and still kept my girls learning at the level I strive to teach them at. Did it work perfectly for both of my girls? No, but it filled the need we had. Montana is not much of a computer learner, she does better with pencil and paper. On the other hand, McKenzie is an excellent computer learner so this program was a better fit for her. I plan to have McKenzie use the program throughout the summer.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

 Product ~ Yellow and Indigo Levels of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum
 Format ~ online learning 
 Price ~ $97.00 per student 
 Ages ~ PreK - 5th
Home School Navigator
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© 2008 - 2018 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, May 23, 2018

Wordless Wednesday ~ Last day of Girl Scouts




© 2008 - 2018 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, May 22, 2018

Reformed Free Publishing Association: T is for Tree: A Bible ABC ~ a TOS review


T is for Tree: A Bible ABC 
This morning I want to tell you about a sweet Christian children's book called T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association. Each page in this hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and includes a corresponding Bible verse as you make your way through the alphabet.


I primarily shared this book with Micah, my newly turned 4-year-old son. He is the youngest of 6 kids and has been immersed in a world of learning from the beginning. Now that he is getting older he is reaping the benefits of being able to participate in the Crew reviews just as his sisters have.
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
This 32 page book is written and illustrated by the talented Connie L. Meyer and published by Reformed Free Publishing. Reformed Free Publishing is “an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1924 for the purpose of witnessing to the distinctive Reformed truth”.

This alphabet book is new to their collection and is filled with Bible passages, short rhymes, and detailed illustrations to teach the youngest ages about their heavenly Father’s almighty power and faithfulness. My son loves looking at the beautiful pictures in  T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association.



I think we have read this book every single day since it arrived. The beautiful page layouts are perfect for instructing your children in the truths of salvation for all of God’s children and they keep his attention. We have had some thoughtful conversations about what is included in each letter picture. I especially enjoy the fact that there is a corresponding scripture reference. Micah’s favorite letter just happens to be letter “M is for Moon”.


In the fall I plan to use this book as a spine to Micah’s preschool learning by studying just one letter a week. My plan is to have him memorize the memory verse that corresponds with each letter each week. That may seem like a big task but children are capable of doing big things if we set that expectation. It may not be perfect, but at least I will be doing my part in laying that foundation and helping him hide the Word in his heart.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

Overall, this has been a great addition to our family library. I appreciate that it is hardcover because I know it will get many years of use with my children and future grandchildren to come. I would really love to see these pages shrunk down and made into flashcards. Even if it was a digital file that I could print at home. We travel a lot and that format would be an excellent extension to the book for our family for learning and reviewing on the go.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates though of this book by clicking the banner below.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

 Format ~ hardcover book
ISBN ~ 978-1-944555-27-6 
 Price ~ $17.95 
 Ages ~ 3-6 year olds
Reformed Free Publishing Association

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

PandaParents: MessyLearning for Preschoolers and Kindergartners ~ a TOS review

My resident preschooler, Micah, was given the opportunity to use the first three months of a new preschool learning program called MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS from PandaParents.

Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}

Don’t let the name scare you away! This program is not messy in any way but rather it is a fun filled experience where early learning takes shape. In fact MESSY is just a fun acronym for learning. It stands for: Mixed subjects & activities for integrative learning Engagining activities that challenge young minds Simple 1-2-3- steps: Read, Learn, Create Smart designs for creative learning Yeah, a new way to promote preschool STEM & early brain growth!
Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

The folks at PandaParents have one main goal and that is to “bridge the early learning gap” that is sometimes found with the youngest set of learners, the preschool group, aged 3 to 6. Spending just 30 minutes a day, 2 to 3 days a week is all that is needed to see the benefits with this program. This is a fun online program that really caught and held my son’s attention right from the start. We received the three units called A Jingle Jolly Journey, Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound, and Mommy’s Baby. With videos include bright graphics and are animated to teach colors, letters, vocabulary, patterns, short stories, and more. Also included with our access what a PDF copy of the story that you can read over and over again just like preschoolers like.

PandaParents
Each story also included workbook pages. These are roughly 40 pages of worksheets that you can print out. These worksheets include skills such as visual tracking, math, science, reading, writing, cutting, coloring and more. They are pretty thorough for this age group and a definite assest for the complete program. I didn’t necessarily print out all 40 pages of the worksheets when using this with my son and just printed certain sheets here and there when he wanted to work on coloring or tracing. The cutting portions were definitely his favorite activities though because he loves using his scissors.


One of the best parts of this program is that each month focuses on a different theme with new ideas being added in and taught. If you want to try this program yourself, you are in luck! PandaParents is offering a free 10-day trial when you sign up you get immediate access to the first unit. If you find you need to cancel, just do so within the first 10 days and you will not be charged. If you love it, keep the subscription and receive a new unit every month!

We have enjoyed our subscription so I encourage you to check out yourself. See what my Crewmates thought by clicking the banner below.

Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}
Company ~ PandaParents 
 Format ~ online 
 Ages ~ 3 to 6 years

PandaParents


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© 2008 - 2018 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.