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.

Friday, June 29, 2018

When one door closes, another one opens

Good Friday evening friends! Hope you have had a great week! We are in full summer mode here and I am so thankful that I get to use my new Erin Condren Life Planner to help me juggle all that needs to be done. Can I blow your mind for a second? Anyone want to guess how many times a week, (M-Sat) that I drive to and from the gym? It's a doozie of a number and I know you will be as shocked as I was when I actually counted it. 

Our summer schedule has been making my days fly by, which is just fine for me! With July just around the corner I am excited to start my school planning next week. For the next five weeks I am going to focus on each of my remaining five students at home and get their Plan of Study done (on paper and the blog) as well as start gathering and/or ordering what we need. This year we are blessed to only need a few things.

Madison, my rising Senior will be first up in our Plan of Study reveal. It's been an interesting week pre-planning for her to say the least. The doors to attend a local community college kept shutting because we don’t qualify for in-state tuition. Yes, we live here in our current state and have for the past 10 years AND pay property taxes, but we are not considered residents based on our states domicile requirements. After speaking to the head registrar at the College on Wednesday morning I prayed for God to make a way if He wanted her on campus in the fall. 

Yesterday afternoon we found out the final decision and it was that we would have to pay out of state tuition each semester for her 7 credits. $$$ 💸 Not happening! I was bummed and so was Madison because we really liked the campus and the staff we met. Plus she would have the opportunity to show that she can preform inside a “real” classroom that the service academies like to see in homeschooled applicants. 

I am a firm believer that if it is not meant to be there is a bigger and better reason why that we just don’t see. Another door will open that will be better for Madison. So Last night we registered her for AP Physics and Pre-Calculus through an online school and we are excited to go this route. Both of her teachers have such a passion for Christ and the classes they teach. 

This morning at 4am I woke to a start and after saying my morning prayers I checked my email. Guess what was in my inbox? An email from the pre-College program that Madison is attending next week! She is going away to a college in Michigan and taking a fully credited class for the next 4+ weeks. Meaning she will be inside of a “real” classroom and be able to show the Air Force Academy admissions team that she can hold her own and in an accelerated course to boot! 

God is good! 

In my haste to get her registered at the community college I totally forgot about the significance of the class she is going to be taking in Michigan. As we start planning for her trip we are praising God for opening doors for Madison. Her hard work and dedication to her studies is paying off and she is just a few short months from finding out if she will be admitted to the Air Force Academy Class of 2023! Her dream school since she was in the 7th grade. 

Integrity First, Service Before Self, 
Excellence in All We Do ~ Air Force Academy

© 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.   

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective ~ a TOS review

As a classical homeschooler I have always wanted to give my children a rich education that included exposure to the arts. With Marie, my first high school graduate, I piecemealed together curriculum but was not completely satisfied with it. It did the job but I was looking for more.

Now that I have a rising Senior and Sophomore I was super excited when we were given the opportunity to review The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentices. I had never heard of this curriculum so I was over the moon when I found out we would be reviewing it! Let’s dig into it because it is a real gem!

The Master and His Apprentices was penned by Gina Ferguson, a homeschool graduate, who wanted to share the love of God and his creations through art. Using her teaching background and knowledge and love of art and the Bible she created this high school level curriculum for schools and homeschoolers just like you and me.
The Master and His Apprentices

While this curriculum is available in hardback edition, we received the digital edition of the student textbook, the teacher guide, as well as printing rights to print off the material if we chose to go that route. The student text book is 380 pages and includes 19 chapters full of information on the history and art from Creation through Modern times. The Chapters include topics on:

 • Chapter 1: Introduction to Art 
 • Chapter 2: Creation 
 • Chapter 3: Ancient Near East
 • Chapter 4: Egyptian 
 • Chapter 5: Aegean 
 • Chapter 6: Early Greek
 • Chapter 7: Etruscan
 • Chapter 8: Roman 
 • Chapter 9: Early Christian & Byzantine 
 • Chapter 10: Medieval & Islamic 
 • Chapter 11: Romanesque 
 • Chapter 12: Gothic 
 • Chapter 13: Proto-Renaissance
 • Chapter 14: Early Italian Renaissance 
 • Chapter 15: High Italian Renaissance
 • Chapter 16: Northern Renaissance 
 • Chapter 17: Baroque 
 • Chapter 18: Rococo to Today 
 • Chapter 19: Global Highlights 

The student book is broken down into distinct time periods including Ancient Cultures, Classical Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque and Beyond. Detailed chapter introductions provide helpful background information about each time period as well as detailed timelines that highlight art within Biblical/Christian history. An appendix is also included in the back of the book that contains essays, charts, and terms needed to know.

The teachers guide is there to help you the teacher guide your student along the way through the course. With discussion questions, worksheets, and exams it is more of a helping hand so to speak. I love that a syllabus is included to help you plan out the year long study and to keep you and the student accountable.

Writing is woven into the course through the four required essays scheduled. Each essay is written on four different time periods along with different artists and styles within the time periods. Plenty of time is dedicated to the composing of the essays and a grading rubric with clear grading guidelines is included. This curriculum is designed to fulfill a full elective credit for high schoolers and is written from a Christian perspective. With over 600 detailed images the beauty of the art shines through. There is no nudity or objectionable material inside the pages. While I have no objections for taking out the nudity, as I have younger children in my home besides my high schoolers that I don’t necessarily want gazing at Michaelangelos’ David even if it is art, so I appreciate the discretion to only include parts of the sculpture.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
Originally, I had planned to start both my high schoolers on this program as soon as we received them. However, I ran into a snag when I learned that my rising Sophomore is only allowed to take classes for credit within the normal nine month school timeframe per NCAA rules. She is a competitive gymnast hoping to compete in college so NCAA has strict rules we must follow to ensure fairness for all students.

So, I made the adjustment and started the course on my own and let me tell you it has been a fascinating last 6 weeks of learning for me. I am a paper person so I printed off the first 5 chapters of the student guide with maximum presentation setting on my computer. The images printed beautifully and I then bound the pages with my coil binder to make a book. I kept the Teacher Guide available on my iPad and only printed the pages needed.

Each week I dedicated spending 3 nights a week reading through the chapters and working on the questions so that when we start school again mid-August I will be fully prepared to hold meaty socratic discussions with both of my high schoolers. I found the comprehension questions to be just the right amount of push for an upper level high schooler. There are definitely questions that make the child think and have to give their opinion and not just rote information. After all, I am trying to raise my children to think on their own and to give their opinion when it counts.

The Master and His Apprentices
Overall, this has been a fantastic art history program! It has lived up to my standards for a rigorous yet fun course and I know that both of my girls will enjoy it come August. I plan to have our weekly chapter discussions on Saturday mornings when the house is still quiet over a cup of hot chocolate. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates think of this program by clicking the banner below to read their thoughts.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

 Format ~ digital PDF copies 
Price ~ 
Ages ~ high school, 1 full elective credit

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hake Publishing: Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 ~ a TOS review

For the last few weeks McKenzie, my rising 3rd grader, and I have been working through the new Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing. I am excited to tell you more about it so let’s get started.

So, if Hake Publishing sounds familiar to you you are not being confused because they are commonly known by the name of Saxon in the homeschool community. Stephan Hake began writing for John Saxon way back in 1984 and is currently the lead author of the 3rd through 8th grade Saxon Math textbooks. Mr. Hake has long believed that students would benefit from a language arts program with the same model of incremental development and spiral review as the Saxon Math model utilizes. Thus began the Grammar & Writing series that is model after the ever popular Saxon math series. 

This rigorous English language arts series is designed to help 3rd -8th graders become successful communicators. The comprehensive program covers:

 ~ English grammar ~ Writing ~ Punctuation ~ Spelling and ~ Vocabulary development 

Each level includes development of the most common concepts of grammar including the eight parts of speech, sentence structure and diagramming, capitalization and correct word usage. There are two parts to the Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 program including a softcover teachers book, a consumable writing workbook, and a writing workbook. The 3rd grade level includes 111 lessons with 22 tests. A handy daily schedule is included inside the front cover to help you plan your year out.

The lessons are each scripted out for the teacher and an estimated breakdown of how much time should be spent on each section is given. I found these were not necessarily geared towards our homeschool day, but a helpful tracking so that we did not get sidetracked or stay on one section for too long. I did appreciate the scripted lessons for teaching I just wished the Teacher Guide also had a copy of the student pages in the consumable textbook.

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}
We are Saxon math users from K-12 so this program has been a great option for us for language arts instruction too. Since it is summer, McKenzie is able to work through the book 3 days a week around her gymnastics training. Because she trains mid-afternoon, it has been easy for her to get up and eat breakfast and do morning chores then hit her grammar lessons before we leave for the gym. Most days this was done without much complaint!

Overall, we have both enjoyed the lessons because they are short and to the point without much fluff. I was kind of confused on the first lesson when they discussed subject/predicates. The lesson seemed to be asking for the complete subject/predicate even though it did not say so. My daughter could not grasp the concept of the forms of “be” being a predicate at first and I had to pull out our other grammar books to break it down and explain it better to her. After this, the program has been smooth sailing.
Hake Publishing Writing and Grammar
Be sure to see what my CrewMates thought of the Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing by clicking the banner below!
Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}

Company ~ Hake Publishing
 Price ~ $63.30 
 Ages ~ 3rd graders

Hake Publishing

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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

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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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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