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Just Being Us
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW: Our Review of Typing Tournament Online

     In a world where technology is all around us, I feel it is important to give our children the tools they need to be able to use it well.  Part of that is learning to type, so I was pleased to find out we were chosen to review Typing Tournament Online from EdAlive.  We were given a year subscription, so I know our daughter will be able to learn all she can with this program. In addition to the Typing Tournament Online, we were also given a year subscription to their program Maths Invaders Online, but our review will mainly focus on the typing program. 

     EdAlive is trying to make learning fun for students.  Through games and fun themes, they are able to keep your child's attention in both of these programs.  They have no idea they are learning along the way.  My daughter has tried other typing programs in the past but got bored too quickly and would quit.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that she would sit and play these typing games for at least 30 minutes at a time.  She is just beginning to play around with the math program so I may be doing another review for it in the future. 

     The typing program is geared towards children 6 and up, but I have to admit I tried it myself and had some fun with it too.  Hope is doing great!  She is learning good posture and hand placement as she types.  She is getting faster every time she uses it.  She was frustrated at first because she hates to make mistakes, but this program is teaching her it's okay to make a mistake, just fix it and go on.  

     Typing Tournament Online has a medieval theme and it is very colorful.  I love that it keeps track of her progress.  If you have already mastered a level, it does allow you to move ahead.  That is a huge plus in my book.  If you  know how to type, but just want to get improve your skills, this program allows for that.  You don't have to go through all the basics again if you already know them. This program is accessible 24/7 so your student can work on it anytime they want. Hope loves getting certificates, so you can imagine how happy she was when she completed a lesson and was awarded a certificate that she could even print out.  I am looking forward to seeing how fast and accurate Hope will get over the next few months.  We have already seen a lot of improvements.   

     Would you like to learn more about these programs?  I would urge you to check out their website and follow their social media pages listed below: 

    We also have more reviews for these programs from real homeschooling families over here

Typing Tournament & Maths Invaders Online {EdAlive Reviews}

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW: Our Review of Big Bible Science

     My kids have always enjoyed learning Science through experiments.  They like hands on activities and it helps them to remember what concept they are going over.  Recently we were given the opportunity to receive and review Big Bible Science from Christian Focus and the kids have been having a lot of fun learning while experimenting.  

     This book is full of many learning activities for ages 7-11, but my 14 year old enjoyed many of them also. You will begin reading with an introduction to let you know what will be taught and how this book will stir your child's imagination as you go.  This is designed for homeschoolers, but I feel anyone could use this book.  The experiments are not difficult and gathering the items you need is easy.  Most of the things needed were right here in our home.

     After the intro, you will read how to make the most out of each lesson and what the chapter components are. Next there is a page of safety rules that will keep your children safe while the experiments are completed.  I enjoyed the section that talked about Notebooking.  So beneficial for students learning science concepts.  I also love that is is based on the BIBLE!  Each chapter focuses on the Biblical Science.  Your kids will learn God's Word right along side of scientific laws and theories. 

     There are 21 chapters and each include a few activities to reinforce what is being taught.  At the end of the book you will get to read through quite a few mini biographies of Scientist such as Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton.   This book is packed full of so much learning in just 95 pages. 

     I want to share a few of the experiments my kids did. 

     This one focused on Newton's Second Law of Motion.  In this experiment they were learning about acceleration and mass.  They found that the more mass something has the more destruction they cause on the other end.

     The next one they did was on Newton's Third Law of Motion.  They proved that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction by doing the balloon launch experiment.  

     The final one I want to share is their experiment with the Water Cycle.  Here they learned that a dish with two teaspoons of water left in a warm light will evaporate much quicker than one left in shade.  

     Let's just say we have a lot fun with this book so far and we will continue to use it this summer.  I am excited to get to the chapters on the body.  Those have some great little activities to do. 

     Would you like to learn more about this resource and others from Christian Focus?  I would encourage you to check out their website and social media pages listed below: 

We also have more reviews for this product and a few others over here

Big Bible Science, Elizabeth Prentiss, God is Better than Princesses,  God is Better than Trucks. {Christian Focus Reviews}

Friday, May 17, 2019

Balancing It All {Freebie Included}


    Are you BALANCED???  I wasn't for years.  I was a rigid mom and homeschool teacher.  It took years for me to realize I needed to be balanced.  I found that in order for things to run smoothly, I must be flexible with our schedules.  I needed to leave time for God to use us as a family and I needed to be adaptable when He called us to do something other than our normal routines.  

      Our kids need more than just academics in their everyday learning.  They need to have time to play, time to explore the world around them, and time to learn how to be good and productive citizens.  We can accomplish this by allowing them plenty of free time to have fun,  time to be able to investigate their homes, yards, and parks,  and time to socialize with others.  They need to be able to get along with other children and they need to be able to speak well with adults.  

       When I first began homeschooling, it was all about the books.  We had to get through every single book I had bought for that year.  It made for some frustrated kids and one frustrated mama.  We didn't enjoy school.  It was a chore.  After years of experimenting with different methods of homeschooling, I believe we have finally found one that suits us.  We use the school at home method with just a little bit of  the eclectic method.  We do use books for 80% of our schooling, but we also enjoy reading books from the library for reading time, doing fun crafts, and doing many hands on activities for history and science.  

     I think balance comes when we figure out what is best for our families. It may not look like our other homeschooling friends.  It may look a bit strange to outsiders.  It may even make our families question us, but we have to do what is best for our children not others' children or family members. We know our kids better than anyone else.  We see how they respond to our teaching.  We watch their eyes light up when they learn something new.  We know if something isn't working for them like a certain workbook or textbook.  WE KNOW BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR CHILDREN!  God gave them to us to teach and train.  He also equips us to be their parent.  With His guidance, we can accomplish what He wants us to do.  

     I also want to address when we should allow our children to do seatwork on their own.  I think they show signs of wanting to be independent around the age of 10.  They don't want mom or dad looking over their shoulders every minute.  As long as you are checking over their work on a daily basis and teaching any new concepts, I don't see why they can't work independently.  If you see they are not yet able to work without being watched, explain to them they need to earn independence by working without being distracted.  They need to be done in an allotted time, and not run around playing when they should be doing their schoolwork.  

In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.  And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 
~ Titus 2:6-7

     In order to keep a good record of our assignments, we use assignment sheets on a weekly basis. On Monday mornings,  we write out what we hope to finish by the end of the week.  We use these as a guideline for our daily routine.  Our kiddos love fun ones to use so I decided to make some with different themes.  I have made a PDF of these for you to download and print the ones your kids like. To download these assignment sheets,  just click on the link below the image.  

Thursday, May 9, 2019

HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW: Our Review of Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 2

     I can't believe our son Josh will be finishing the 9th grade in just a few short weeks.  Soon he will be taking his SAT test and I was worried if he would be ready for the Verbal section.  I was happy to hear we were chosen to receive and review Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 2 (Grades 8-12+) from The Critical Thinking Co.  We have used their resources before and I knew this would be a book to help him get ready for his upcoming test.

     The author of Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 2 is Nancy Forderer.  She is a retired teacher who enjoys tutoring, writing, reading and traveling. She use to teach Language Arts to young people and has a degree from the University of Toledo.  I feel she did a great job with these lists of words found in this vocabulary book.  Josh was challenged but not overwhelmed. He has been reading since he was three years old, so it is a bit difficult to find reading or spelling resources that are not boring for him.  This book was a great fit! 

     This book consists of 20 vocabulary lists along with 5 review pages.  Each list has 9 words and 85% of all the words included are on the PSAT or SAT lists.   As you read through the words you will find that each list emphasizes one part of speech.  Each lesson comes with a pronunciation key, the definition of the word, other word forms, and a sentence showing how the word can be used.

     After you go over your list of words, activities will follow that reinforce learning the words in context.  I especially enjoyed the fictional stories that are included in the activities.  Your student will learn 3 concepts as they interact with you.  These concepts are Literary, Rhetorical, and Historical.  The review lessons ensure mastery of the words and are placed after every 4 lessons.  

     I asked Josh if he felt he was learning new words and definitions while working through the book and he said yes.  He also said that he is improving on his writing skills.  The more words you know, the better your writing will be he says. I couldn't agree more.  

     Here are a few examples of the pages he has completed.  He has also received  a perfect score of  100% on all of his vocabulary tests on Fridays, where we have used the words from each lesson. 

     If you have a son or daughter who are planning to take their PSAT or SAT tests, or who would like to brush up on their vocabulary skills, I would encourage you to check out this resource and the many others from The Critical Thinking Co.  You can also follow them on their social media pages listed below: 

     Between now and 12/31/19 The Critical Thinking Co. is offering you a special deal.  Look at this great offer 

We also have more great reviews for this resource and many others over here

Critical Thinking, Math, Vocabulary & Writing Skills {The Critical Thinking Co. Reviews}


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW: Our Review of Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum

     When I was in school, I always dreaded History class.  I found it boring and repetitive. I didn't want my children to feel the same way about learning History. I try my best to find curriculum that is both educational and engaging. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out we were chosen to receive and review Pathway to Liberty's US History. This curriculum is part of the  Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum.  This curriculum teaches History with a Biblical worldview, and keeps your children focused by allowing them to explore History through many means such as watching videos, reading books, and writing papers on Historical events. 

     As I was researching this curriculum, I was intrigued with the reasons the author Jayme MacCullough decided to write this amazing curriculum.  She was not happy with the content of the other curricula out there so she decided to do something about it.  She attended classes to become better educated in the field of History and the foundations of American liberty, then she used that knowledge to create this curriculum we see today.

    Pathway to Liberty offers 4 types of History curriculum and each has 4 levels: 
  • Pathway to Liberty’s Universal History
  • Pathway to Liberty’s Middle Ages
  • Pathway to Liberty’s US History
  • Pathway to Liberty’s World History

     When choosing your curriculum you should know that Level 1 is for grades K-3. Level 2 is geared towards 4th-6th grade.  Level 3 works well for 7th-9th grade and Level 4 is for your 10th-12th grader.  You know your child better than anyone, and will be able to find what level fits them best. I love the fact you can buy physical copies for one student or you can buy the digital versions and print them for as many students as you need.  

     Our family was given Pathway to Liberty's US History Level 3.  I felt our daughter who is almost 12 years old would be able to handle this level due to the fact she is almost in 7th grade and I want to use this curriculum now and later on when we come back from our small summer break.  

     In this set, we received a Student's Guide, a Teacher's Guide, The Chain of Liberty book and study guide also written by Jayme MacCullough. This book asks the question : "Do men have a right to think for themselves?"

     The Teacher's Guide is such a blessing.  It helps parents plan out every lesson and gives you a list of what you will need for each lesson. Each week starts out with a weekly overview. You are then given a list of what your teaching objectives are for that week.  Along with the book The Chain of Liberty, you may have to buy or borrow some other great books that go along with the curriculum.  So far, we have been able to borrow the books needed from our local library or online library.  

     Pathway to Liberty's US History has 26 weeks of lessons.  You will be doing class 4 days a week. Each week is unique and will allow your child to immerse themselves in these historical facts and events.  What sets this curriculum apart from others is the fact that it uses what is called distance learning (learning through the internet by attending classes or by correspondence). You will be learning through many avenues like YouTube. Your student will never get bored.  It is flexible yet always accurate and up to date. 

     Here is the Table of Contents for Pathway to Liberty's US History, Level 3:

     My daughter was a bit overwhelmed at first, but once we sat down and discussed the way this curriculum worked and how it is different from other History curricula, she was on board. She has been enjoying the way the Bible is weaved throughout each lesson.  She says that the Student's Guide is easy to follow and she hasn't had any issues so far. 

     She has also been reading through The Chain of Liberty and working through the study guide. She is learning so much.  I have been impressed with the fact she is learning and not complaining. I am excited to see how much more we will learn together as we work through the rest of the lessons. I said we because I am also learning.  The Chain of Liberty is fascinating! I like that my child is being taught that our liberties should never be taken away and what it means to fight for them. I love when Jayme says "Liberty is our heritage".

     If you are looking for a new approach to teaching, and you would like to incorporate the Bible into your History Curriculum, I would encourage you to check out Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum.  

     You can also follow them on their social media pages listed below:

We also have more reviews of this curriculum  over here ⇊⇊⇊⇊⇊

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}

Monday, May 6, 2019

Simplifying Our Homeschool

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:12 ~ 

     When I started out homeschooling, I thought I had to have every book they made and a library of our own.  Our youngest son was overwhelmed with all the books and stuff we bought to teach him.  He would see the many bookshelves full of things and would just mentally break down.  There was too much to choose from.  He needed simplicity.  He craved it.  

       After 20 years, I have certainly learned what is needed and not needed in order to teach our children here at home.  We went from 6 bookshelves full of homeschooling books and learning materials, to just 2.  That is not bad considering we have curriculum for grades 6-12. We also have the books the children love to read on our bookshelves.  Our new rule is when we buy a new book, we look for 5 to give away to another family who can use them. It is all about keeping things simple and easy to maintain.  

        As for our curriculum, we have been trying some classes online.  We still have some textbooks and workbooks, but it is getting less and less each year.  I no longer think that we need tons of books in order to educate our children with excellence.  

        I wanted to share about this subject so that you may glean from my years of experience.  Don't think you have to buy every book out there.  Take time to look for the items that will fit you and your children.  Be careful not to buy too many books or learning aids.  Don't overwhelm yourself or your children with things.  What they need is your attention and your time.  They will learn no matter how many learning materials is available as long as you take time to teach them on a daily basis.  

     Try digital books.  You may find that you and your children like them and they are easy to take with you where ever you go.  We love our Kindle books and many were free.  

     I use to think that if I didn't have tons of books and teaching aids that other families would think we were not giving our children a quality education.  Now I only live to please God, my husband and my children in our home.  It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks as long as I am doing all I do for the glory of God!  

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31 ~

Thursday, May 2, 2019

HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW: Our Review of The Hamelin Stoop Series

     Our family has always enjoyed fantasy books that offer lots of adventure and intrigue.  We like books that spark our imaginations. When we were chosen to receive and review the first two books of the The Hamelin Stoop Series from the publishers at 12 Gates Publishing, we were excited.  We couldn't wait to begin reading Hamelin Stoop: The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge (Book 1) and Hamelin Stoop: The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna (Book 2).

     When researching these books I found that they were written like the books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.  They are filled with mystery and have great characters that make you want to keep reading.  Many books today do not offer this kind of suspense.  You know that nail biting, what is going to happen next feeling that makes your tummy feel funny?  

     Robert B. Sloan, the author of these amazing books,  captured my children's attention as we read these books together.  They were on the edge of their seats during a few scenes.  They didn't want to put the books down.  Hope and Josh are 11 and 14.  These books were both perfect for their ages.  I also enjoyed them as an adult.  I felt they were well written and look forward to more in this series.  From what I have read, it looks like they are planning on this being a 6 to 7 book series.  I think that is great! 

      The first book of the series, The Eagle, The Cave, And The Footbridge, gives you the background of little Hamelin Stoop. This little boy has been left at an orphanage by his mother Johnnie who along with Hamelin's father Simon, was running from the evil Ren'dal.  Simon and Johnnie knew this would be the best for little Hamelin.  
     At the age of 8, when his birthday is forgotten by everyone at the orphanage, Hamelin begins his adventures by running away.  Little did he know what he was being called to do. Along the way he makes friends with the Great Eagle who guides him in his adventure to find his parents.  He is met with many difficulties and hardships that he must contend with in order to complete his task. 

     This was a perfect book to begin the series. I felt it gave significant background stories for each character that let you get to know them better.  It opened up lines of discussion with my children that led to some wonderful conversations about life. We talked about how we would feel if someone who loved us had to leave us.  We examined how important trust is in a relationship.  It was just a great family time!

     I asked my children what they thought of this story and they said that it was wonderful. They couldn't wait to find out how Hamelin would help the Ancient One defeat his foe.  They said it was the best book they have read in a long time.  I would say that is a raving review! They didn't complain once as we read this 323 page book. It was so filled with exciting twists and turns, they didn't realize how long it was and it left them wanting more. 

     Due to a serious cold with sore throats and coughs that just wouldn't quit, we didn't get all the way through the second book of the series called The Lost Princess And The Jewel of Periluna, but what we have read so far has been incredible.  Hamelin is still on the search for his parents and hopes to find out who he is by finding them.  He finds himself in the midst of the war waged between Chimera and the Ancient One.  I am sure this book will not disappoint as it has already captivated our minds in the few chapters we have read.  

     Once Hamelin crossed the footbridge he knew his crusade was now involving much more than just finding his parents. It would take courage and strength to face what would be coming next.  I personally can't wait to find out how he responds to this pursuit. We will be finishing up this 295 page book in the next week or so and I look forward to more being written. 

     Does your family enjoy fantasy books? Do you like books that sparks the imagination? These books will not disappoint you if you answered yes.  I found them to be non predictable and full of surprises that kept you focused and wanting to read more.  

     Would you like to learn more about these books?  I would encourage you to to check out their website and their social media pages listed below: 

     We also have more reviews of these books for you over here

The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge (Book 1) & The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna (Book 2) {12 Gates Publishing  Reviews}