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 11th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

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



Friday, May 29, 2020

Reading Kingdom ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations. 
Over the course of the last few weeks my son Micah has been plugging away at his online reading lessons from Reading Kingdom. This reading program developed by world renowned reading expert, Dr. Marion Blank, has been around for several years now and has helped many children to become stronger readers.
The Reading Kingdom program is targeted to teach children ages 4-10 how to read and write to a third grade level. Through interactive and easy-to-use components, the program offers customized online reading instruction for your child.
To begin your child needs to take the Reading Skills Survey which customizes the program and places your child in their correcting reading level. With this program instead of your child having to learn complicated rules Reading Kingdom utilizes a process that targets your child’s reading weaknesses while at the same time keeping them confident in their strengths. The six skills method for reading include:

~ sequencing 
~ motor skills 
~ phonemic awareness 
~ meaning
~ grammar 
 ~ and reading comprehension


The Reading Kingdom program is an online program so you will need internet access. We had no issues logging into the program with Google Chrome. After Micah, who just turned 6, completed his assessment the program suggested that he start at the Sequence / Letter Land. I will say that the assessment is quite detailed and takes a bit of time to complete. Micah was not familiar with the keyboard so he was a bit slow in answering some of the time and the program marked him wrong. However, I know it is because he needed more time to answer and find the key, not because he didn’t know the concept.
Micah has used this program with great success when he was younger. This time around he struggled with it. The repetitiveness of the program left him frustrated at times but we will continue to use the program because I do like that he is getting typing practice/familiarity with the computer keyboard.
If you want to try Reading Kingdom out for your family, you can sign up for 30 Day Free Trial. After the trial period has ended and you would like to continue, a subscription costs $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year. Additional children on your account get 50% off ($9.99/month or $99.99/year) and you can cancel your subscriptions at any time. In addition, because Reading Kingdom is so passionate about everyone getting to enjoy the joy of reading there is a scholarship program available for those who qualify. 
Be sure to check out what my 34 CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.!
Reading Kingdom & ASD Reading {Reviews}
Company ~ Reading Kingdom
 Product ~ Reading Kingdom
 Format ~ online, internet needed
Ages ~ 4-10 year olds

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 © 2008 - 2020 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.    
 http://astablebeginning.com

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations. 

My 13 year old daughter, Montana has recently become interested in computer science. This subject is not something I am fully versed in so we were both thrilled when we found out we were going to receive the Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook from Workman Publishing.
The Big Fat Notebooks are a favorite here at A Stable Beginning so I was glad to add this one to our set so my children can learn more about computer science. Back in the day when I was in school I remember having to take a typing class. I went at night, I can’t remember why, but I already new how to type and may have skipped class once in a while to hang out in the parking lot with my now hubby…but I digress. Now days computers are a very important part of our daily lives and I am glad my children have the chance to learn all about them.
Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook was written by Grant Smith, an expert in the field of computer science. Most everything has become digitalized from calendars to the way we communicate through email. To keep up in this digital world even the youngest students need to know how to operate a computer {many already do}. This book focuses on the middle school student and gives them the basic foundation in computer science. Students will learn the fundamentals needed to understand the how and why behind computer science and programs like HTML, Scratch, and Python through the use of:

 key concepts ~ diagrams ~ mnemonic devices ~ definitions ~ doodles

The book contains eight units to dive into. They include:
Unit 1 ~ Computing Systems
Unit 2 ~ Data and Anaysis
Unit 3 ~ Software Engineering
Unit 4 ~ Algorithms and Programming
Unit 5 ~ Universal Programming Principles
Unit 6 ~ Programming with Scratch
Unit 7 ~ Programming with Python
Unit 8 ~ Web Development

Within the eight units of study your student will learn a multitude of topics including binary code, Loops, Boolean expressions, cybersecurity and more!

When our book arrived on a Friday afternoon my oldest, Marie, who is actually a software engineer with a degree in graphic design, took the book and read through it for several hours. In fact, when Sunday came along and I was planning out Montana’s schedule for the upcoming school week I could not find the book. Low and behold, Marie had it in her bedroom all weekend! She likes how easy it is to read and understand the concepts.
Montana loves it too! She worked in the book three days a week and as a fellow doodler, she loves the doodles that go along with the ideas presented. Montana worked from the beginning of the book through each section. Like our other Big Fat Notebooks, I did not have Montana write directly inside the book because I have younger children behind her who can utilize it when they are older. McKenzie, my 5th grader has already expressed interest in working through this book as well.
I personally love the format of this book! The illustrations included are not overwhelming and fit the theme of the book and topic. I also like that the book is set up like a real notebook page complete with color-coded notes for easy understanding. The text is easy to read and understand as well and all the unfamiliar vocabulary words are highlighted and defined. This Big Fat Notebook gives my daughter and I just what she was looking for into learning computer science.
But don’t just take my word for it, check out what 24 of my CrewMates thought of this Big Fat Notebook and see what they have to say. I know I am glad to have this on our bookshelf!
Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook {Workman Publishing Reviews}

 Product ~ Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook, ISBN: 978-1-5235-0277-6 Format ~ softcover book 
 Price ~ $14.95 
 Ages ~ Middle schoolers


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 © 2008 - 2020 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.   
 http://astablebeginning.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Finally! Madison’s planner arrived after a 24 day detour in NC.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Math Refresher for Adults ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  

Happy Friday friends! Now that I am a seasoned homeschool mom with two graduates I often have my friends who are homeschool moms tell me about how they feel intimidated by teaching math to their children. But guess what! You can teach your children math. From basic math to algebra, the Math Refresher for Adults, will give you the confidence you need. So, I was super excited when the book showed up in my mailbox from Math Essentials.
The Math Refresher for Adults is just like the title says. For adults who need to brush up on general math and algebra. The lessons in this book will help you master the foundational math you need to know in short, concise lessons.

The softcover book contains 270 pages arranged by topic. The table of contents is detailed. If you are looking for a specific math topic, just flip to the Table of Contents and search for the content. There are sub topics within each of the following main topics:

~ Whole Numbers 
~ Fractions 
~ Decimals 
~ Percents 
~ Geometry 
~ Intergers 
~ Charts and Graphs 
~ Word Problems 
~ Twenty topics within Pre-Algebra and Algebra

The lessons are taught with video lessons by America’s Math Teacher, Richard W. Fisher. This workbook includes practice exercises, answer keys, review test, a glossary of key terms, as well as a few reference guides. The format of the lessons is simple and not distracting. I love that the pages are black and white and don’t have any distracting graphics.


Review exercises are included with each lesson. It contains between 4 - 6 problems and plenty of space to solve them. It is recommended to use a separate piece of paper to solve the problems. A notes section is also included for when you watch the video lessons. A Helpful Hints section is also included for each lesson. The actual lesson section includes ten problems and a place for answers. Again, there is space to solve the problems but it is suggested to use a separate piece of paper to work the problems.


I am now one year out from graduating my third high schooler, Mikayla, next spring. She is knee deep in studying for her ACT test and this book has come in handy for me. For example we were going over the answers for her math practice test and for the life of me I could not remember how to explain how to find the slope of a line. So, I called a time out and I searched the Table of Contents and sure enough it told me to look on page 176. I quickly checked out the video and shared it with Mikayla as well. We both worked through a few of the problems in the book then proceeded to finish our ACT corrections.

I love that this book is like a personal tutor when I need it. Right on the spot, if I have questions then I flip to the take of contents and find the topic needed. Overall, this is a fantastic book and I recommend it for everyone, whether you are a homeschool teacher or not. I am sure it will stave off frustration when helping your child complete their math assignments.
If you need to brush up on your Math skills, I recommend checking out Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials. Click on the banner below to see what my CrewMates thought of this book and the other two books been reviewed, No-Nonsense Algebra and Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School.

No-Nonsense Algebra, Math Refresher for Adults &  Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School {Math Essentials Reviews}

Format ~ online videos and softcover book 
Price ~ $28.95


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 © 2008 - 2020 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.     
http://astablebeginning.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Wordless Wednesday ~ birthday planners arrive



 © 2008 - 2020 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.
     http://astablebeginning.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Homeschool art curriculum with Beyond the Stick Figure Art School ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  

 Several of my children have amazing artist ability. It runs in the family but they definitely do not get it from me because I struggle to just draw a stick figure. Since we have been on Corona virus break my daughter Montana has been missing her weekly art lessons at our Co-op. I was really excited to receive access to the Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School for her to use while we are at home.

Beyond the Stick Figure Art School was created by Sally Stansfield, a homeschool mom, who received her degree in art from Loughborough College of Art and Design in England. Through her step-by-step incremental process Sally’s passion for teaching art shines through five different art areas. This online program gives your entire family, aged 5 and up, access to short 180 step-by-step lessons in:
 ~ Drawing 
~ Watercolors 
~ Pen and ink drawing 
~ Acrylic paints 
~ Bonus lessons in 3D design with clay



Each lesson of this online art program comes with a corresponding video. Throughout the video Sally tells you just what to do so that you or your student will be successful in your art project. I love that I can be hands-off in this subject and my child can still learn and create to her hearts content. You can even find the needed supplies list. Supplies can be found at your local craft store or online too.






I had no trouble setting Montana up in the program. She was eager to get started. You will need internet access to use this course and the website is easy to navigate. I especially like that the program picked up right where Montana left off. No need to guess and hunt for her spot. Montana enjoys drawing so she had fun with this program. She did dabble a bit in the watercolor section but definitely enjoys more of the drawing aspects of the program.


Overall, this is a great art curriculum. I am always on the lookout for great homeschool art curriculum such as the Beyond the Stick Figure Art School because I love being able to offer my children quality art instruction for my children.But don’t just take my word for it, be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of it by clicking the banner below.

Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course {Beyond the Stick Figure Art School}

 Format ~ online lessons 
 Price ~ 10 payments of $37.00 
 Ages ~ 5 and up


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 © 2008 - 2020 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.
     http://astablebeginning.com

Friday, May 8, 2020

Fermentools ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  

Since the Coronavirus has taken over the world I thought it would be the perfect time to try our hand at the many things on our bucket list. One of which is canning and fermenting. My second oldest, Madison, is home from University finishing up her freshman year because of said virus. She is my right hand girl in the kitchen and always experimenting. She mentioned frementing things back in December so when this review popped up I thought this would be a great time for her to try her hand at fermenting foods. She was excited to hear we were going to review the Starter Kit from Fermentools.
Fermentools is a US based family owned small business. I really appreciate that all of their products are made and sourced within the USA too. The Fermentools Starter Kit does include:

~ Directions for using the product, including a basic sauerkraut recipe
~ Ancient Himalayan fine grain (this includes high amounts of important trace minerals)
~ Surgical grade stainless steel lid
~ Airlock system
~ Rubber stoppers, 1 with a hole to use with the airlock system and one without
~ Rubber gasket
~ Glass fermenting weight

Once we received the Starter Kit in the mail and it was game on to figure out what exactly she would be making. She decided she wanted to make pickles so first up was to find a wide mouth mason jar because it is not included in the Starter Kit. I thought I had one here but it is MIA and we could only find small sized jars in the house. In a normal world, pre-Corona virus, we could just pop into the store and pick one up, but this is not the case now. We had the worst luck trying to find a jar and so we ended up improvising with and retrofitting a jar that we did have at home. Not the best option, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
To begin she washed and cleaned the carrots and cucumbers she was going to ferment while the water boiled on the stove to dissolve the Himalayan salt. Once the water cooled she poured the salt water brine solution over the veggies and added minced garlic, dill, and bay leaves. The glass weight from the starter kit is then placed on top to keep the food below the water line. Next place the rubber gasket and the rubber stopper on and seal the jar. Lastly add water to the water line and place the airlock system into the rubber stopper.

Now just place your jar in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days and wait for the magic to happen. Typically, fermented food is best after 6 months, but if you can’t wait that long you definitely can dive in sooner than that. Just check it after 4 days to see what’s happening but its best to let it sit and do its magic for awhile. You can also place your ferment into the refrigerator or store in a cool basement. The cold improves the taste as well as the time it is allowed to sit.
When she opened the jar after a week, it tasted...okay and extremely salty. I think it is most definitely user error on our part and not the actual Fermentools product. She is excited to try again once we do get our hands on some reasonably priced wide mouth mason jars. Madison also wants to try sauerkraut and more pickles to see if she can get it right.

Overall, this is a great product that will help you in your fermenting endeavors. I only wish we had the right type of jars on hand. You’re in luck, Fermentools is giving my readers a 15 % discount coupon so you can try your own hand at fermenting. The coupon is valid from now until June 30th.  Use the coupon code Crew2020
Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this product by clicking the banner below!

Fermentools Starter Kit {Fermentools Reviews}

Company ~ Fermentools 
 Product ~ Starter Kit 
 Price ~ $21.49


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© 2008 - 2020 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.     
http://astablebeginning.com

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  

We are winding down our homeschool year but I have a great book to share with you today from Everyday Education, LLC. Its called Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook and if you like to teach handwriting and phonics through copy work then this is the book for you. It was out of print for several year but was brought back into print by Janice Campbell.


We received a PDF download of this program through my email. Saving it to my computer was simple so getting started was quick and easy. I don’t typically do a formal grammar or writing curriculum with my children until 3rd grade because I like the principals of Charlotte Mason. Using copy work at the lower grammar stage works for our family and this eBook is a great addition to our everyday learning for my Kindergarten son.


Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting contains 60 step-by-step lessons within the 218 pages. It teaches students to write with in italic lettering in which 20 of the 26 alphabet letters are stroked in one stroke. Inside you will find sections on the:
~ Introduction 
~ Teaching methods 
~ Alphabet writing sheets 
~ Word lists 
~ Sentence writing sheets 
~ And writing sheets in general


Each of the sixty lessons follow a similar pattern for completion. These include: 
~ Reviewing what was previously learned 
~ Introducing the new letters and/or sounds 
~ Trace 
~ Sound out 
~ Read 
~ Copy 
~ Practice


Since this curriculum is a Charlotte Mason approach it is only recommended your child spend between 10-15 minutes of time on the lesson. If you follow these guidelines the lessons will take a few days to complete. Several scheduling options are included to help you plan out your time.


 This curriculum also teaches the student to read through phonics. Emphasis is placed on learning word families. I love that each list includes rhyming words to help your child progress quickly at their own pace. My son has really taken off at reading and enjoys going through the list reading the words.
Overall, my son and I have enjoyed working through this book. We both liked that the lessons segments were short and sweet. I also liked that the illustrations on the pages were in black and white. It was not overly busy to distract him from his task at hand. I also appreciate that this is an eBook and I can print out whatever pages I need. So if he needs additional practice on a letter or set of words it’s as easy as printing another sheet of paper off.


Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is the best book for you if you are looking to teach your 4 or 5 year old to read, have an older child having difficulty learning to read, or your older child can read but has atrocious handwriting, or you just want to improve your own handwriting. But don’t just take my word for it! Click the banner below and check out what 49 of my CrewMates thought of this curriculum. You’ll be glad you did!

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook {Everyday Education, LLC Reviews}

 Format ~ PDF eBook 
 Price ~ $29.00 
 Ages ~ 4 years and up
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© 2008 - 2020 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.    
 http://astablebeginning.com