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 12th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

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



Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Securing Merit scholarship aid with ACT Test Prep from the ACT Mom ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a Complimentary copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  
 Hey there friend! Schools back in session for quite a few kids and things are starting to get back to “normal”. In the high school world with that normalcy comes standardized testing requirements. More and more colleges are accepting the ACT and not just the SAT. In our family we have the girls do both tests and see which one is their stronger test, so far the ACT has been the clear winner. Montana has entered her high school years and I want her to be prepared for her first test this summer so I was thrilled to review the ACT Mom Online Class from ACT Mom
The ACT Mom
In years past, my older girls have used a different online test prep course and I was all set to use the same one with Montana because we have had great results with my girls all scoring high. However, this year the pricing for that course was really high…higher than I was willing to pay at that time. I prayed about it for several weeks and was going to just bite the bullet and sign Montana up. Then we were offered the chance to review the ACT Mom Online Class and it has been an answered prayer! 

ACT Mom Online was created by Kati and Keith Johnson back in 2015 when their oldest was beginning his studying process. Their children had scored high on their tests and then they started sharing their knowledge of cracking the ACT with others in small group lessons. Then came Covid, and the world as we knew it shut down for months. The Johnson’s then developed their online course right from the kitchen table and have been helping students across the country study for the ACT. 
The ACT Mom
The Johnson’s have figured out how to break the code of the test down and to master it, thus leading all three of their children to substantial merit scholarship money.
ACT Mom Online is an online course that includes 13 hours of instruction. You and your student can set the pace of your study, we have found that working in 20-25 minute study sessions works best for our children. Once you register for the course you can navigate through the course site platform. The ACT is broken down into 4 tests, ACT Reading, English, Science, and Math. With the ACT Mom Online Class you get dedicated study and practice in each of the disciplines. 

Our class came with access to the online videos as well as a binder with practice tests, a wet erase marker, and some lined notebook paper for taking notes. The practice tests are inside sheet protectors so you can easily wipe off any markings you make. 


Everything that you need to practice learning and testing is provided with the online class. Mrs. Johnson really breaks the whole process down step-by-step so you can make the best answer choice. Plus, if you didn’t quite understand a concept, just watch the video portion again. Immediate feedback is provided when you take a quiz. If you didn’t do as well as you would have liked, just retake it as many times as needed to be successful.
Montana has been plugging away with this course for the last six weeks. She has mainly focused on the English section and a little bit of the reading section. She is a voracious reader like her older sister Madison (who scored a 35 on the reading section the three times she took the ACT), so I don’t think she will have too much trouble in that area. Our plan is to continue digging into the English section until the end of September and then to dive into the Math section for extra review. Math is not Montana’s strongest subject, but I know she can master this portion as well. 

Our goal is to have Montana to sit for her first ACT in the summer of 2022. This will help her get the nerves out and help us see her baseline score and where she needs extra help.

Montana says “The ACT Mom Online Class is easy to follow and the quizzes in between lesson videos help me remember and apply what I have learned. I am determined to match my sister Madison’s composite score or even pass it.” 
She also only wants to take the ACT two times to get her highest scores possible. With the preparation she is getting from the ACT Mom Online Class I think this is an achievable goal for her. 

Overall, I am super pleased and thankful to have been on this review! I wish this program was around for Mikayla when she was preparing as I think this would have helped her score higher. We are not newcomers to standardized testing preparation and having access to this dedicated, focused prep has been great! 
My three older girls who have all graduated from our homeschool have gone onto University with $1000’s of dollars in merit scholarship money. Marie had partial merit scholarship (which is nothing to hang your head about), simply because I didn’t know the game. Madison, my current University Junior, has a full ride to her out of state University through AFROTC scholarship in part to her academic merit and ACT scores while, Mikayla, my current University Freshman, also has substantial merit scholarship in addition to her gymnastics scholarship that helps us afford her private tuition. 

Bottom line guys, these ACT scores matter! The higher you score the more free money the schools will give you. That’s the name of the game with these tests. The higher you score the more merit scholarship money will be offered. This is huge when paying for college, especially since a four year education could end up costing over $120,000. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $120,000. (times 6) laying around to send my kids to University.  
Sure, I could have paid the price for our other test prep course, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to use the ACT Mom Online Class. Montana’s confidence in preparing for the test is increasing with every week. I have no doubt that she will do amazing when test time comes thanks to her preparation with the ACT Mom! 
When other homeschooling moms ask me what test prep we use, ACT Mom will be the only one I suggest going forward! But don’t just take my word for it, be sure to click the banner below and read what 17 of my CrewMates think of this test prep class.  
Test Prep with The ACT Mom 
Company ~ ACT Mom 
 Format ~ online video based course 
 Price ~ $250 (+ $8.25 Shipping) Online Access for one year 
 Ages ~ high schoolers
The ACT Mom

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  © 2008 - 2021 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. 

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wordless Wednesday


   © 2008 - 2021 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. 


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Friday, August 20, 2021

Open-and-go vocabulary development from Ready to Teach ~ A TOS review

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

Another Friday is upon us friends! Many of you have already started school or will be starting in the next week or so. We fall into the latter category and will be starting on Monday. I am looking forward to getting back into our daily routine and learning right alongside my three remaining children at home.
One of our focus areas for each of my children this year is in vocabulary. Learning Greek morphemes is a fantastic way to increase vocabulary so I was excited to receive It's NOT Greek to Me! from Ready to Teach to use with Montana, my 9th grader. We are no strangers to this program as we used it when Madison was in 8th grade.

This vocabulary program is the brainchild of Alene H. Harris, Ph.D. who taught secondary vocabulary and life science in the schools of Nashville, TN for over 16 years. After a friend asked for her to make her materials available to homeschoolers she published the first edition. Now, we have been offered the 4th edition to review. Let me tell you a little more about it.

If you find teaching vocabulary to your middle or high schooler hard or you are searching for the right program that will help improve your students vocabulary while also helping to develop high order thinking skills, then this is the vocabulary development program you should look into. It's NOT Greek to Me! studies Greek roots, suffixes, and prefixes in 12 lessons with a major review and test after Lessons 6 and 12. Ideally the course can be completed in just 14-16 weeks if you complete a lesson a week. Our package arrived with two softcover instructional books. 

Instructors manual ~ Softcover book with 126 pages that includes:
 • lesson plans
 • keys to all student activities 
Ready to Teach• lesson test answer keys 
• pre-made flash cards for all morphemes 
• a student-involvement bulletin board idea and graphic 

Student book ~ Consumable, 124 page softcover book that includes: 

• lesson assignments broken down by task 
• designated writing space for all lesson activities, including:
~ analyzing words
~ synthesizing words 
~  creating words
~ developing context clues reading skills 
• a 12 part mystery story incorporating the morpheme-based words in context 
• a set of 12 color pages for making study cards 
• A flash drive containing the 12 self-paced PowerPoint lessons. 

We also received a hand-held one hole punch and storage ring for the flashcards found in the back of the book. 
It's NOT Greek to Me! studies Greek roots, suffixes, and prefixes in 12 lessons with a major review and test after Lessons 6 and 12. Ideally the course can be completed in just 14-16 weeks if you complete a lesson a week. 

I love that a detailed daily lesson plan, with estimated time allotments is included inside the instructor’s manual. It’s laid out so you know exactly what to do and when. Answers are included for each lesson too. At the end of each week there is a lesson test which includes 25 to 30 morphemes. 
A set of color – coordinated study cards for the words to be learned is also included, which is perfect for helping you the parent review and learn to words along with your student. The study cards are printed on white cardstock and I plan to laminate them so they last for future usage with McKenzie and Micah. If you have wall space there are also bulletin board ideas to display the words being learned. This vocabulary program can be used three different ways:

 ~ independently, with the student fully in charge of the flash drive and working through the lessons 

~ with the parent as the teacher working right along with the student and guiding the student through the lessons 

~ in a co-op setting
  Ready to Teach
Montana and I have been working through this open-and-go vocabulary development program for the last few weeks. Since we went over expectations right at the beginning I was able to not have to sit directly with her. Rather, I was in the next room if she needed help. I also would quiz her frequently and challenge her to use the words and morphemes she was learning in her everyday life. She just finished lesson 3 before I left to take the girls back to University last week. She still needs to take the test for lesson 3 but I think we will wait until our first week of school to do so.

Overall, I think this is an excellent vocabulary development program and highly recommend it! Montana will finish this book and then move on to the next book in the series with the goal of expanding her vocabulary knowledge. If you looking for an open-and-go program for vocabulary development, then check out It's NOT Greek to Me! from Ready to Teach. Don’t just take my word for it, see what 15 of my CrewMates think of this vocabulary program by clicking the banner below. Learn Greek Vocabulary with Ready to Teach 
 

 Company ~ Ready to Teach 
 Format ~ softcover books with flash drive for PowerPoint lessons
 Price ~ $86.95 
 Ages ~ middle schoolers and up
  Ready to Teach 
 © 2008 - 2021 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, August 18, 2021

Archer and Zowie ~ a TOS review

Disclaimer: I received a Complimentary 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.

Hans Bluedorn Brings us Fallacy Detective and Archer & Zowie
Morning friends! Today I am pleased to share the new book, Archer and Zowie, from Hans Bluedorn. This new book is written by the same company that has written the ever popular book, The Fallacy Detective. We always love when we can add a new book to our shelves. Let me tell you a little more about it. 

Archer and Zowie tells the story of best friends by the same name who are more different than alike. Completely by chance the pair figures out that Archer’s microwave can transport them, order sandwhiches, and can mash up and chew the universe in a matter of seconds. Throw in some dark matter, babysitters, and giant penguin aliens and you have an exciting science fiction adventure that the pair try to survive to return home. 
The book is a paperback book with 233 pages sprinkled with whimsical black and white illustrations drawn by Mr. Bluedorn himshelf. The book is written in a dialogue format which made it difficult to read aloud to McKenzie and Micah. Instead I had McKenzie, my 6th grader, read it independently. Micah was interested in the story too as I had started to read it aloud to both of them, so he would peak over her shoulder to see the pictures inside.



The cover of the book and the description really drew us to wanting to read the story. However, it was a little bit too much for us in the format it is written in. McKenzie enjoyed the overall premise of the story, but it was a little hard to follow at points. She says she would enjoy it more if it were written like a normal story.

Hans Bluedorn Brings us Fallacy Detective and Archer & Zowie
Bottom line, we will be making room for this book on our bookshelves. I hope to have Micah read this book in a few years to see if he enjoys it. I would recommend it for middle schoolers and up. But don’t just take my word for it! Some of my CrewMates also reviewed Archer and Zowie as well as the Fallacy Detective. So be sure to click the banner below to read their thoughts.  

 Company ~ Hans Bluedorn
 Product ~ Archer and Zowie 
 Format ~ paperback book 
 Ages ~ middle school and up
Hans Bluedorn Brings us Fallacy Detective and Archer & Zowie
 
Find Fallacy Detective on these Social Media sites: 

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fallacydetective 
 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hansbluedorn/

Friday, August 13, 2021

Homeschooling High School with The HomeScholar ~ a TOS review

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


 It’s Friday guys and that means I am at the end of our prep time for our upcoming 13th year of homeschooling. For us, we start back on August 23rd and we will be entering our 4th rotation through High School. WHOA, time flies! 
The HomeScholar 

If you are just entering into the high school season you may be stressing about everything, but don’t! I am here to tell you that homeschooling high school does not have to be scary. This summer I have been working through the High School Solution training from The HomeScholar LLC learning a few new things as I go along. 

If you are new to homeschooling or a veteran you may have already heard of Lee Binz. With the help of her husband, Matt, they have become the go to experts for over 15 years, guiding thousands of families through the homeschooling through high school process. The HomeScholar has a variety of products available to help you and we were blessed to be able to receive a 6-month subscription to the High School Solution. 

You’re probably wondering why I would need this product since I have already gone through the high school cycle 3 times? You know what!? I have learned so much in the short 6 weeks I have had access to this program. There are over 50 hours of how-to-homeschooling video trainings and handouts on how to plan for standardized testing like the SAT or ACT and how to homeschool gifted children. Plus there are printable templates for every stage and age starting in middle school. It’s a literal goldmine at your fingertips for a lifetime! 

Throughout the course you will hear Lee emphasize her three core beliefs about homeschooling through high school. They are: 

1. Independently homeschooling provides the best possible learning environment for your children. 
2. Every child, whether or not they are college bound, deserves a college-pre education. 
3. You as the parent are fully capable of providing a superior education for your children.  

To begin, I watched the main presentation for the course. Be warned its over 4 hours long but definitely and an enjoyable time spent. I split up my watching time and listening to the presentation while planning or keeping busy organizing my office and schoolroom. The time really flew by and I gained a lot of new insight. 

University attendance is the focus of this presentation and it is the end goal in our homeschool process. Being able to accomplish this without paying for University education is also high on our list, but that’s for another posting.

I love that this program emphasizes to not be afraid and that you can, in fact, do it! I honestly wish I had access when my oldest, Marie, was in middle school and then again when Madison’s IQ exploded and expanded seemingly overnight in middle school. Haivng access to many of the trainings and courses in The High School Solution would have definitely saved me many sleepless nights and I am sure my hair might be a little less gray  I have navigated three different college prep course loads and processes for my older three girls. Each being a different and separate process including traditional universities, service academies, ROTC, and NCAA.

As I head into the process once again, I find myself being drawn to the middle school process because I am seeing the same IQ/learning tendencies I saw in Madison and Montana now presenting in McKenzie. I think we have a good, solid plan for Montana as she heads into high school and having access to information to help McKenzie navigate middle school in preparation for high school gives me confidence that I can give her the push and pull that she needs as she makes the transition between elementary and high school.

Taming Middle School Anxiety #Homeschool @TheHomeScholar

This quote from the Taming Middles School Anxiety article included in The High School Solution has really stuck out to me, especially as McKenzie is ahead in math and science and our course selections this upcoming school year has raised a few eyebrows. 

 “Middle school is the time to advance in subjects when the student is ready, but it’s also the time to review subjects that still need more time. Some children are right at grade level. Not all children are at a remedial level or ready for advanced classes. They don’t all have to be doing remedial work or high school work; you can do remedial work in certain areas and move ahead into high school work in other areas”.
The HomeScholar 

The High School Solution helps to make the planning and implementing part of homeschooling high school less daunting. With tried and true strategies, Lee will help you formulate a plan of study that gives you confidence to successfully lead your children from freshman year to graduation. Don’t just take my word for it! Over 30 of my CrewMates received access to this program and the others being reviewed including, Total Transcript Solution , Comprehensive Record Solution, and the College Launch Solution. Be sure to click the banner below to read their thoughts.

Homeschool High School to College with The HomeScholar
   
 
 Format ~ online 
 Price ~ $197.00 
 Ages ~ homeschooling parents The HomeScholar 

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 © 2008 - 2021 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