Thursday, June 28, 2018



I don't have enough of it.

Last night I was up until 3 am with Kleenex stuffed up my nose working on a writing project.

Then I had computer issues.

Now I need to go to Kroger.

If I have been conscience of anything lately is that I need to be more time conscience. I need to be more aware of what I'm giving my time to.

So basically, "youtube videos that teach me how to make homemade noodles"....I need to break up with you.

It's me. Not you.

I have good intentions. I start out by just looking up a tutorial on how to clean the lime from my shower head. Then an hour later I'm watching old clips of the New York City Ballet. Or history documentaries about Polygamists.

I'm an equal opportunity time waster.

So today...knowing that I have more to do than I have time to do it...I am literally timing myself.

I've given myself 3 minutes to write on the blog. I've used most of that 3 minutes telling you how much I waste time.

Art History (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

We WUV history. And we WUV art. But we really have never done a great job putting all of those together with in one subject…other than doing brief artist studies. We recently had a chance to review a product that does exactly all of that. It is called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and The Masters and His Apprentices.

Received the Digital versions of both the Digital Edition of the Textbook and Teacher Guide: The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and the Teacher Guide. We also received the PRINT/PHOTOCOPY RIGHTS for our household.

This course is intended for adults who want to enjoy reading a great art appreciation book. Or you can use it for your High School Students for a FULL CREDIT Art History Course. You can use it with your younger kiddos as a supplement. 

As a momma of a High School Student who is looking for High school credits I wanted to check it out to see if it would be something that could be used for our Fall Semester. Plus, I wanted to give Josiah a sneak peek of what that semester might hold.

You can purchase all of a hardcover copy of the Textbook and a softcover copy of the Teacher’s Guide if you like to have those on hand. You can print off the textbook from the Digital Files (that I received) or simply use your computer to read the lessons….which is what I did.  The PRINT/PHOTOCOPY RIGHTS gives us the permission to copy off as many copies as I need to from the Teacher Guide.

This curriculum is written from a Biblical Worldview. As such, there are no nudes or secular humanist ideologies covered. It’s basically PG. 

If you choose to use Art History as a curriculum, you will average about a lesson a week. This will give the student plenty of opportunity to take his or her time through the lessons. There are some really thought provoking studies here. We loved reading about art through the lens of history.

The curriculum includes the following:

·         Weekly Worksheets (self-study) / Discussion Questions (class settings)
·         (4) Exams
·         Instructions for (4) Papers
·         Grading Chart
·         Answer Key for Exams and Worksheets
·         And more.

 I really enjoy Timelines...and Art History does them well. 

I found the whole thing so beautifully done AND it is all done for me. High School Credit in the bag! The lessons are fascinating and kept our attention. On a side note, the author is a homeschool graduate and speaks "our language." This is a curriculum that is compatible with all kinds of homeschool educational styles...includes ours. Which is "use what we like and use what works." 

I don't generally talk about price when I write my reviews. After all, every homeschool family has a different budget and different needs. However, I think this is a very reasonable curriculum for the quality and amount of material you receive. The hardcover Textbook is a bit more, but textbooks generally are. And I can imagine that it is a thing of beauty. 

This one's a keeper! It's definitely going on the schedule in the Fall. 

You can connect with The Master and His Apprentices via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 


The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

White House Holiday Unit Studies (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I adore a good unit study. It has always been one of my favorite ways to teach. I even enjoy pulling them out with my teenage son. Recently we had the chance to review the White House Holiday Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC.

Silverdale Press

The White House Holiday Unit Studies teach the history behind the following American Holidays.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Valentine’s Day
Labor Day
Veteran’s Day
White House Holiday Unit Studies

Any unit study above will contain material for grades K-12, but each lesson has differing assignments for the grade levels. These are so great for families with multi-ages and you can use them over and over…year after year. They literally “grow” with the children.

The lessons contain portions to read aloud with your students. They are interesting and well-written. 

We personally love history so all of the back stories were fascinating. Something that I personally love using are primary sources. They might include transcripts of speeches, handwritten letters, videos or photographs.  I think it is always a good idea to hear or see exactly “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.  The unit studies are full of primary sources…I think they add so much to the lessons.

There are also hands-on projects included. Don’t worry. I didn’t see one assignment for building a model of the Eifel Tower (though that would be strange considering our topics). You mommas who start twitching at the mention of paper mache and welding equipment can rest easy.

How We Used It

The very first lesson I chose to play with was the Veteran’s Day Unit Study.  I may or may not have ulterior motive. You don’t have to go very far in the family tree to find a passel of Veterans. In fact, I happen to a bedroom with an Air Force Vet. The Muffin (aka The Husband) is our resident veteran and I knew Josiah would enjoy this particular study.

Plus, it gives us brownie points with Dad.

The lessons are divided into K-6 and 7-12. And there are 3 lessons for each group. Personally, I was just a little disappointed when I realized that the 7-12 group didn’t get to make a poppy pin.  Josiah’s assignment for the first lesson was a Crossword Puzzle…but he happens to love crossword puzzles and was thrilled nobody asked him to make a poppy pin.


The final activity included ways to get involved in Veteran’s Day.  Some of the suggestions including interviewing a Veteran or taking a Veteran out for meal. Some my favorites included praying for our Veterans.

Of course, many of these were super simple for Josiah to achieve. Except I think that the Big Mac Dinner was paid for by the Veteran.

The lessons, themselves, are excellent. They are historically sound and move along nicely.

For example, we learned that Veteran’s Day was initially Armistice Day. We read through Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech and talked about President Eisenhower’s role in war as a General and then as president.

Something I haven’t mentioned, as of yet, is that all of the White House Holiday Units are told from the perspective of the Presidents, and their families.

So my next choice for review made perfect sense to me.

I am going to talk about the Valentine’s Day Unit Study.

One of my very favorite holidays is Valentine’s Day. I even have a beautiful pink little tree with pink lights that we place in our dining room window.  I try and send Valentine’s to loved ones and make my boys a heart-shaped pizza every Valentine’s Day.

When I saw that the Valentine’s Day Unit featured love letters from some of the Presidential couples I just swooned. I’m not sure about Josiah. He doesn’t swoon a whole lot.

This Unit has 5 lessons with the activities in each lesson divided between K-6 or 7-12.

After a brief history lesson on Valentine’s Day, we are introduced to our first couple, John and Abigail Adams. What is perfect about this lesson is that not only are we treated to the loving words of a devoted couple, but we get to read them through the eyes of history.

The activities in this unit first include answering a series of questions. These are for all ages with modification suggestions for the younger grades.

The next activity has grades K-6 using a portion of one of the letters (of your choice) as copywork.

The older grades are assigned a letter writing activity. They must write a fictional letter between John and Abigail Adams.

There are more Presidential letter writers, but I want to move on to one of the “weddings in the White House” lessons. I didn’t realize that there have been seventeen wedding in the White House. Most have been Presidential children.

However, it Grover Cleveland was the only sitting President to be married in the White House. He was courting his eventual wife, Frances, when he became President.
Part of the activities in this lesson is to study their portraits.

Another fun activity during the Unit is making President Kennedy’s favorite Waffles.

Yes, please! Josiah told me that this was one homework assignment he could really get behind!

My Thoughts

The other Unit Studies are just as thorough and as fun! I am really impressed with the quality of the whole kit and caboodle. They will certainly be put in circulation at our house.

They are all so well done. I loved all the beautiful graphics and photos included. I also felt that the reading moved smoothly and was interesting.

It’s a keeper!

You can connect with Silverdale Press LLC via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Facebook:   Tag: @SilverdalePress
Twitter:    Tag: @SilverdalePress    

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MaxScholar Reading (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Back in 2016, we got to review the Reading Intervention Program from MaxScholar (you can read that review here).  We obviously were fans at the time, but Max has made some changes and I wanted to see what was what. We received a 12 month subscription to the Reading Intervention Program.

Before I tell you about our experience, I need to give you a little background information. 

First. Josiah is dyslexic. That being said...this boy is rocking the reading. He doesn't like to read in general, but I am so proud of how far he has come. If I could give advice to any parents that are trying to navigate the whole "school thing" with a struggling reader it would be this. Read often. And look for those tools that can provide you with support. 

I have come across a few excellent resources in our journey. And I have to say that MaxScholar is one of those resources. There are a few things that make it initially overwhelming, but I'll talk about that in a minute. 

About MaxScholar. This is an online program. You will need internet access and some way to hear...either speakers or headphones.

We primarily have used the MaxReading portion of the program. Your student will need to take a placement test before beginning. I was pleasantly surprised with his placement. But don't stress out if the placement is not where you think it should be. The program really adapts with your student and you need to let it all play out. I will show you a brief walk-through of this portion in just a minute.

There are other portions that can be used as stand-alone activities.

MaxMusic - We used this portion exhaustively in our last review. Josiah loves music and MaxMusic uses popular songs and artists.  Students practice reading, working on memory skills...all by reading song lyrics and more! 
MaxPhonics - Is terrific for the younger readers. It teaches phonics at a basic level...all by using multi-sensory methods. 

MaxVocab - Speaks for itself. 

MaxPlaces - Features geographical locations. Students apply the same skills they are learning in MaxReading. .

MaxBios - Actually, much of what Josiah has done during this review period can be found here. These are biographies of well-known people.  He has read biographies about Alfred Hitchcock, Gandhi, Steve Jobs and more!  

How We Used It

MaxScholar uses the Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood Bell method of reading instruction. This method of instruction has been proven to be highly successful for struggling readers.

Here is an informative video you can view if you have a minute.

I get my own special password and account apart from Josiah's. I will walk you through a lesson.  It is suggested the student use the program at least 3 times a week.

This what I see when I begin. I do know based on Josiah's experience that sometimes he is allowed to choose a topic, but often it will just move on through a series of lessons. I chose College Majors: Dance.

This first screen gives us all the vocabulary words we might need to be aware of. You notice that I have the option to hear the instructions and make the font smaller or larger. Apparently they saw me coming with my old lady eyes.

 After reading through the text, it is now on to highlighting. I have to say that this was the trickiest portion for Josiah to get the hang of.  I just highlighted a few things to let you see the end result.

I didn't do so well. But we all know I could have rocked it if I had given it an effort. Josiah told me his secret (once he figured it out). He basically just highlights all the nouns and verbs. I'm not so sure that is what MaxScholar had in mind.

The next portion is to create an outline using your highlighted notes.
 And then I am given an opportunity to write a summary, open ended question or general question using the passage.
Then there were questions.  My friends. This little quiz even allows you to scan over the text before answering each question.

Who got time for dat?

Thankfully, MaxScholar doesn't the student play any of the fun games attached to the reading unless they have scored a C. There goes my fun for the night! 

You also have the option to redo the chapter. Josiah did that a few times. He liked to beat his score. 

I did get a couple of screenshots from a hangman game Josiah played.

Very fitting. He knows exactly what that word means. 💓

So the issues we have had with MaxScholar are minimal. I think it just takes some playing around with.  But because the lessons follow the same pattern Josiah soon got the hang of them. 

What I did notice in comparison with our last go-around with MaxScholar is that it is easier to navigate. There are also some great reporting features. I could see what Josiah struggled with and what he excelled in. Often with online programs, we occasionally run into little glitches. We haven't had any issues. The program runs quickly and efficiently. 

This program can also be used at home with homeschool students AND kiddos who attend public school. In fact, many schools use MaxScholar.

It's a keeper! 

Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. You can connect with MaxScholar via the following social media outlets.


Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Art for Children (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I have a confession. It's been a while since anybody in this house has been in Kindergarten. Or First Grade. Or Second and Third, for that matter. But I can't resist a good art curriculum and I've been reviewing for The Crew so long that I have quite a collection of books from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. This one happens to be from the  ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series. It is Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary and it is intended for (you guessed it) K-3.

 ARTistic Pursuits

For this review, I received a hardcover book and one blue-ray disc and one DVD. 

The art supplies needed for this curriculum are easily accessible. Among very familiar items, I needed watercolor crayons, paint brushes, oil pastels, watercolor paper and construction paper. 

I don't have to tell you that I had all of these things in my 'stash. A homeschooler can never have too many books, art supplies and tea bags. That's just the way I roll. 

There are some particular brands recommended, but I am the firm believer is "use what you have." 

This book is to be used first in the new series and then you may move on to whatever historical era you are studying or use in chronological order. 

This is a screenshot from one of the video lessons

There are 18 lessons. The video lessons allow the student to see how the materials are used. The book helps with discussion and hands-on application. I find that even to this day my 16-year-old learns best this way. The books is parent/teacher friendly and walks with you. 

Most days I need all the help I can get.

Not only do the videos supply excellent lessons about how to use the different mediums, but they give practical advice. 

"Now return all of the crayons to the box." 

Yes, please. Could we make a laundry themed lesson series?  

We did lots of art, but today I am going to share the results of just a few. I also want to walk you through a typical lesson...starting with Lesson 2. 

Josiah and I aren't strangers to the mediums we used with this course. My momma is an artist and has made it her life's work to supply her grandchildren with art supplies...and musical instruments, but that is another story (or subject). 

She also specializes in watercolor. 

Can I say that I am in love with the watercolor crayon? Not that I am personally offended by a nice palette of watercolors, but the watercolor crayon helps me imagine that I actually know what I'm doing. 

The watercolor crayon is a marvel and that is the very first medium we got to try. 

We first watched a video.

Our picture study was of The Courtyard of a House in Delft by De Hooch. (Courtyard with Arbor) We were asked to make some observations of the picture. I observed I would like to live there. With wifi and a refrigerator, of course. 

The "vocabulary" for this particular lessons was Compose. So we were asked to compose a picture of our own house. 

Now here is a little disclaimer. We more or less drew our house. We didn't add the big front porch, because we struggled with it...but we got the gist of it down. And added a few things...

For example, Josiah added a large alien aircraft directly above the house. He also pointedly decided to make the house explode from within. Who cares about the finer details when you are planning for an alien invasion? He was also concerned that his grass contained "movement." 

My house is, thankfully, alien free. 

The rest of the lessons are just as fun. And don't worry! If you aren't an artist or care to be this curriculum will hold your hand. 

At the back of the book are easily explained objectives for each lesson. .

And remember what I said about being an artist? 

The Art Gene isn't running freely through this girl's DNA. 

The last lesson in the book is an Artist Sees Portraits. The assignment is to create a Self-Portrait. 

I don't know where Josiah was for this one...probably saving the Earth from an alien attack. 

But he did pop in long enough to tell me that my self-portrait does not look like me.

Thanks, Bub. Though I pretty certain I nailed the freckles.

As usual, ARTistic Pursuits, Inc has produced a fantastic product! 

You can connect with ARTistic Pursuits via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read about more great products! 

Facebook:     @ArtisticPursuitsInc.
Twitter:  @ARTistic Pursui1
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Classical Composition (Memoria Pess)...A Homeschool Review Crew Post

Throughout out years of reviewing homeschooling materials with the Crew, we have been fortunate to receive a number of excellent products from Memoria Press. They are always so generous. In fact, during this particular review, I had difficulty finding a product being offered that I don’t already have in my library! For this review, I received Classical Composition I-Fable Set.

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

In my box of goodies, I received the Teacher Guide, Student Book and the Instructional DVD's. It is intended to be used for grades 4-12. There are a total of 20 lessons to work through. 

As with any of the Memoria Press products the Teacher’s Guide is excellent.  It contains teaching guidelines. The guidelines go through each aspect of the lessons carefully…even providing extra hints and tips. A helpful rubric comes next. I love a good rubric. Especially, if one isn’t quite sure how to “grade” a writing project.  The lessons plans, themselves, are scripted and give plenty of examples and helps. The appendix at the back of the book contains figures of description with examples.

The student book contains an introduction, a definition of terms and the figures of description appendix. The lessons have the fable, accompanying questions and space for writing.I do need to tell you that if you have more than one student working through the curriculum you will need to purchase a Student Book for each student. 

One of my favorite parts are the instructional DVD’s. Brett Vaden for the win! Thank you, Brett. Could you come to my house for a few other subjects? There are 4 DVD’s that contain 5 lessons each. The lessons last about 30 minutes. I LOVE this kind of stuff. We are able to stop and start when needed and rewind as often as we must.

So how does all this work?

Let me tell ya.

Each lesson contains a short fable. You can do this lesson in one sitting or spread it out depending on your student’s abilities/attention span or your schedule.

Mr. Brett reads the fable out loud. After the video lesson, the student (aka Josiah) then reads the fable on his own. Then there are vocabulary words to check out. All of the fables will contain three plot components….recognition, reversal and suffering.

For example, Lesson 1 is the Ant and the Chrysalis.  If you have never heard this particular fable before, let me fill you in.

Mr. Ant is a busy guy. One day he comes across a Chrysalis that is approaching his change. The Ant sees the Chrysalis move its tail and is overcome with self-congratulations. He disdainfully tells the Chrysalis that he pities him and then waxes on about his own superior ability of running and scurrying. We all know what happens next. The Chrysalis is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The ant is overcome by the majesty of the Butterfly’s beautiful wings. After a short speech, in which the Butterfly actually says “Behold in me” and flies away, the ant is left to his own little pitiful self.

This, of course, is Beke’s version of the Fable.  

So recognition is when the reader identifies with the story. For example, in this case, Josiah knew exactly what an ant looks like when searching for food. There is a little more to it, but you get the gist.

After identifying the plot components, the student works through the Variations: Part 1 portion. He will first find synonyms for a particular set of words.  Then he will turn the fable into an outline….which is awesome, by the way. The last portion of Variations: Part 1 is to narrate or rewrite the fable using their outline.

Next is paraphrasing. I find this to be something Josiah really struggles with. But it is a necessary part of writing (I use it all the time in my own projects).  In this curriculum there are particular components that the students are expected to be able to identify and work with.

So if we just left the lesson at that it would be great, but there is more stuff to do!

Variations: Part 2 follows a similar procedure as the first variation and then it is time to write the Final Draft.

Here are a few things I want to tell you.

Memoria Press is a Classical Education company. Their products can be challenging in many respects. But they are also very thorough and comprehensive. I find it is helpful not to be too ambitious…especially if you are not used to a Classical Education model. What is really great about this product, however, is that it does require the student to take his or her time and think critically.

For us, these are not lessons that can be done in one sitting.  I also need to tell you that Josiah is dyslexic. BUT…the shortness of the fables helped tremendously in that regard. We also really took advantage of narration and were able to talk through some of the concepts and trickier components.

I do know that this wouldn’t be one he could do by himself.

I also found that the rubric was helpful for him to look through, as well. He liked to see what was expected of him.

Overall, this is a great product! Memoria Press doesn’t disappoint. Be sure to check out all the Sample pages! 

You can connect with Memoria Press via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read reviews for other Memoria Press products!

  • Facebook: 
  • Twitter:    Tag:   @MemoriaPress     
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  • New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}
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    Tuesday, June 5, 2018

    Coming Soon....

    May was craaaazzy!

    I don't think June is looking much better, but as far as I know there aren't as many nights away.

    And I've been horrible at keeping up with my life.


    Can you believe it's June? I don't know about you, but we didn't get a spring. It went straight from COLD (WITH ALL CAPS) to HOT (WITH ALL CAPS).

    Because I have more to do than is decent and because I just hung a new shower curtain I wanted to celebrate just a little bit by telling you this.


    It's going to be a week later than usual, but we will still enjoy plenty of quirky games,chickens, weird food taste challenges and the COUSINS!

    Can you believe it? Not I.

    Our first Cousin Camp was in 2011. These kids are growing up and some (I won't mention any names) have facial hair.

    Just be prepared. They are still a strange group.

    Anyhoo. I've got to go adjust my shower curtain.

    Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

    We are big fan of mysteries in this house. At least, solvable mysteries.  In fact, some of Josiah’s favorite books when he was little involved a very young detective. I, myself, can’t get enough of the genre. Another thing Josiah has always loved are words. Big words. Little words. Strange words. Made-up words. I realize that sounds rather odd for a boy who is dyslexic…but he loves to know what things mean.  We just got to review a product that is a great mash-up of both those things… Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary by The Critical Thinking Co.™ 

    The Critical Thinking Co.™

    Each lesson contains a mystery. The activities contain 18-25 vocabulary words pertaining to the mystery, itself. The word will either point directly to the suspect or exonerate the witnesses. The student considers the evidence and applies critical thinking skills to the problem at hand.

    Critical Thinking Detective™ – Vocabulary Book 1
    The name of the game is to solve the mystery.

    In addition to solving the mystery, the student will work through an activity that uses the words in other ways.  The words are challenging, but perfectly manageable.

    Each lesson is set up as a mystery that you have to solve and includes 18-25 new vocabulary words. In order to solve the mystery you have to understand that new vocabulary words that are used the story. You are given a paragraph or two of background information that includes some of the vocabulary words and then below that you have pictures and statements from four different suspects.
    This is such a fun product! I, personally, have always enjoyed logic puzzles and have found the more I exercise my brain by working them…easier they come.

    Josiah and I did work through these together. The book, itself, is not the big and would be a great summer project to tackle. It is intended for grades 5-12 (Josiah is 16 this year), but this momma had a good time solving some crime!

    This is how we did it. I had Josiah read through the case initially. Then I would go back through with him and we would highlight the vocabulary words together. I asked Josiah what he thought each word meant before looking it up in a dictionary. Actually, I let Josiah use his online dictionary.

    He does have a fantastic grasp on words in general so he didn’t use his dictionary as often as I anticipated.  I also let him make a “gut guess” about who he thought was guilty. It’s a good thing the boy isn’t one of our local police detectives.

    All of y’all are guilty!

    We then began going through the statements of each suspect and eliminating based on what we knew or surmised.

    So. Much. Fun.

    And challenging. Don’t let your youngin’ give up! These kinds of problem solving skills are vital to have.

    Josiah used the review page that followed the mystery as an independent project.  There is an answer key with an explanation which was invaluable for me him.  Sometimes my  his  brain gets foggy.

    This is a keeper! And one I would recommend wholeheartedly. This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten to review products by The Critical Thinking Co.™. I have had a chance to use And this time around members of the Crew got to review several different books. I personally have my eye on Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha.

    And the company has some great deals right now…just for you!

    As an added bonus you can get Free Critical Thinking Puzzles!
    A $75 Value! Delivered weekly to your inbox. Choose PreK – Grade 8. Sign Up Now! and use the coupon code TOSCREW18 for free shipping and 15 % off.

    You can connect with The Critical Thinking Co.™ via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

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