I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

Early Settlers in America

Last year was our first year using a Unit Study curriculum. The idea of all of us studying the same curriculum on one topic but each kid at their own level really appeals to us. At the opportunity to review a Once-a-Week Unit Study from Homeschool Legacy, we were anxious to see another angle into the Unit Study option. These units last around six weeks and are designed to be used, as their name suggests, once a week. They are designed to bring the family together, instilling both a love for learning, and a love for the Lord. The Once-a-Week aspect is designed for you to take a break from regular studies. The only thing added during the week is the reading (individually, and as a family).

There are many units available. We were allowed the opportunity to review Early Settlers in America. This six-week study covers The Lost Colony (Roanoke), Jamestown, Holland, the Pilgrims, Pennsylvania, and New York. This unit is suggested for grades 2-12, but is easy to accommodate younger siblings as well.

These unit studies are basically no-prep, although a trip to the library is necessary and a quick peek at what’s coming is useful so you can have all your supplies on hand. All of the units are faith-based and cover the full range of curriculum, including Bible, Literature, Language Arts, History, Science, Art, Music and Geography. The idea is that once you choose your Unit Study day, you drop your main curriculum and focus on your unit study assignments, starting with the family devotional. (Some people choose to do this on Friday, and some on Saturday, when Dad can become involved in Field Trips, etc.)

This unit includes a weekly family devotional, book and movie suggestions, a simple History timeline, some geography, a research project, American crafts, life skills, discovery of life in the 1800s, Creative Writing assignments, Field Trip Suggestions, Suggestions for Family Game and Movie Night, and “Stump Your Dad” Trivia. Additionally, these units are designed to incorporate Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls Merit Badge Requirements for each unit study.

The “Getting the Most out of Your Once-a-Week Study” was very helpful and (oddly) is located at the end of the study. (I recommend reading it first.) For our family, I found it best to split out the Unit Study into daily increments and do  a little each day to keep with the routine and flow of our homeschool day. Although, I have little ones, so that routine is important to us. Older children would surely appreciate the “day off” feel of the curriculum.

The Early Settlers in America Study is available for $17.95. We received this free, however, in exchange for an honest review. We have been blessed.

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Go Science

Another chance to review some great Science Experiment DVD’s! We were asked to review Go Science DVD’s from Library & Educational Services. LES is a wholesale company offering 30-70% off regular retail prices to schools, churches, libraries, etc. and to HomeSchoolers!! For instance, these Go Science DVD’s are regularly $14.95, but LES offers them for $8.97 each or $47.95 for the set of six!

These Creation Based Science DVD’s (for ages 6-14, although even my younger kids enjoyed them) are Science Demonstrations turned Object Lesson! We reviewed Volume 2 and Volume 4 (See Below). Volume 2 was about Simple Machines, Sound, and Weather. Some of the demonstrations included 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class LEvers, Incline Planes, Pulleys, Trebuchets, Singing Glasses and Singing Rods, Sound Waves, Pipes, Making a Cloud, Weather Balloon, Tornado Tube, and Air Pressure … After each demonstration, Mr. Ben Roy turns the science into an Object Lesson teaching a simple Bible Truth. Mr. Roy is very high energy and always uses a student helper. He gives a spiritual application with each Science Demonstration. Each short is about five minutes long.

We also reviewed Volume 4, Chemistry, States of Matter, Life Sciences and this one (of the two was my kid’s favorite). This DVD showed experiments of Chemical Luminescence, Exploding Bottle, Exploding Balloons, Flash Paper, pH, Root Beer Float, Liquid Nitrogen, Single Cell, Optical Illusion, Lycopodium Powder, and Camouflage. (See the words Exploding and Flash Above to know WHY this was the boys’ favorite!!) If I had to offer a criticism it would be that the experiments were not explained in a “how or why did that happen” sense, but basically just a watch and see. But I loved that each lesson was turned into an Object Lesson, and Mr. Roy ended each session with “Every Time we learn something new about Science, we learn Something New about our Creator, God!

My kid’s have already let me know I should have ordered Volume Three (Magnetism, Electricity, Engineering, and Design).

We did receive these DVD’s free in order to provide and honest review. Other home-schoolers reviewed these DVD’s as well and you can see their review as well as mine posted here.

We are so Blessed!

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Amazing Science

Science is one of Brendyn’s two favorite subjects. (He doesn’t get that from me, because Science was one of two I liked least!) So I thought this would be a good review for us. On the day the Amazing Science DVD‘s came in the mail, we were headed out the door. I grabbed them and popped the first one into the DVD player in the car. The very first experiment, The Color Changing Milk had my kids enthralled. Drops of Food Coloring into a bowl of milk, Dawn Detergent onto a Q-tip, and then Wow! And even better was a full explanation about why it worked and how it happened. Onto Experiment #2. All of the kids were happy to watch the DVD, one experiment after the other and even listen to the sometimes lengthy explanations. I don’t know how much of the “how” and “why” the little kids caught, but they stayed tuned-in to see what cool experiment would be coming up next. I think that first day, running errands around town, they happily watched the whole first DVD!

I liked that a complete material list was given for each experiment, and most things are household or easy-to-find, even in the small town we live in, and for the harder-to-find things (like Dry Ice), we could easily see and get a feel for what was happening by watching the experiment on the DVD. The two-volume set is available from ScienceandMath.com for $19.95, and has a total of 23 experiments:

Disk One: Color Changing Milk*, Egg in a Bottle, Exploring Air Pressure, Build a Lemon Battery, Inverted Cup of Water, Candle Suction Power, Amazing Magnetic Force, Lift an Ice Cube with String, Unburnable Money*, Matchstick Speedboat, Cloud in a Bottle*, and Reversing an Image with Water

Disk Two: Floating Eggs, Keep Paper Dry Underwater, Dry Ice Bubbles*, Balloon in a Candle Flame*, Ocean in a Bottle, Build a Motor with Lights, Simple Lava Lamp, Invisible Ink*, Density Tower, Soda Can Fizz, Build a Motor #2

The experiments marked with a * were our favorites!

All the experiments were thoroughly explained and you really understand “why” it works. My boys couldn’t wait to get home to show Grammy and Daddy the Color Changing Milk Experiment and the Speedboat Experiment. (They were both impressed!) These DVD’s are both educational and entertaining and that really is Amazing!

We received these DVD’s for free in exchange for an honest review. Other homeschooler’s reviewed this product too, and their review, as well as mine is listed here.

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Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here?

Just the Title of this book from Apologia seems deep. Back when I was looking at changing curriculum, Apologia was definitely one of the sites I looked at, as their well-known in the homeschooling circles, primarily for their Science Curriculum. This book, Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? is Book Two in their Bible Curriculum. Although the Books do Build on each other, this book has no problem standing on its own. For our review, we were generously sent the Book ($39), the Notebooking Journal ($24), the MP3 audio recording of the Book CD ($19), and the Coloring Book ($9).

My first impression was that these are really high quality books. the textbook is hardcovered and sturdy, sure to withstand the roughness of my boys reading them with full color pages. There are eight sections … What are We doing here, What will you make Today, What’s On Your Mind, Can you Trust Your Feelings, Will you Choose Wisely, How will You Run the Race, What Kind of Fruit are you Growing, Who do you Think You Are … The book’s main purpose is to create a Healthy Self Image based on Biblical Truths. The book mainly uses the NIV translation, but recommends using the translation of your family’s choice as well.

The Notebooking Journal is Spiral Bound with a sturdy spiral (important for my boys!!) and is consumable. The pages are full color and give prompts for the child to write what he learned or got out of the lesson. There are open ended questions for them to answer, worksheets, vocabulary, activities to do, corresponding books, songs that go along with each unit, and more. I have heard a lot about “Notebooking” and seeing this well put together example was useful for me as a parent-teacher, but also a valuable asset for the student going through the book.

The Coloring Book helps younger learners connect the lessons visually, and give them something to do with cute coloring pages, and the audio recording would be great for readers who couldn’t quite read yet, or as a switch up to an older kid having to read. The recordings are in MP3 format.

I was really impressed with this Bible Curriculum, honestly one of the best I have seen. We will be going through this whole study and I would definitely order other volumes! We did receive these items at no cost to provide an honest review. Other homeschoolers reviewed this and you can find their reviews as well here.

We are truly blessed!

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ALEKS Review

We were offered the opportunity to review an online math program called ALEKS. ALEKS stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces… it is a web-based, independent math learning system that “uses adaptive questioning to quickly determine what your student knows and then instructs them in topics they are most ready to learn.”

It is geared for grades 3-12. The program starts by giving your student an assessment of about 25 or so questions, none of which are multiple choice. Then they get a pie chart showing what they know and are offered a choice of which topic they would like to work on. The program is constantly reassessing the students learning, and it automatically sends out an email to Mom saying how much work has been done and an assessment of your student’s progress.

This program comes in a variety of pricing points. $19.95 or one month, $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months. They also have discount pricing available for families with more than one child. They have a free trial for new members, so you can try it first.

For us, like I have said in reviews past, online programs are just not the best fit for our family. The future of every family having high speed internet just hasn’t reached these dead-end country roads. Also, while I think this is a valuable program for some families, I feel it would be a little out of our price range, especially with so many kids, and the fact that a grade level can’t be retained for the next kid coming up. I think for parents and students where math is not a favored subject, this would work great, since there is little parent involvement needed.

We received this program to review free in exchange for an honest review. Other homeschoolers reviewed this product as well, and you can see their review as well as mine here.

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We Choose Virtues

Once we passed Christmas and got Brendyn back home and settled back into routine, I knew that one area I wanted to focus on with the kids was Character Training. As a parent, I believe, we all want our kids to grow up to be women and men of Character. We Choose Virtues is a Character Education Curriculum. We were sent Virtue Clue Cards to review, as well as, The Teacher’s Handbook, Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book, and two freebies, always available Family Character Assessment and Kids Memory Verses, Bible Heroes, and Truths. This was quite a selection of things!

The Family Assessment is a good starting place to see how your child’s character is right now …. then this can also be used to determine progress along the way! We decided to use the Kids Memory Verse, Bible Heroes and Truth paper along with our Virtue Clues to bring in the element of faith connecting the virtue to God’s Word. Each Virtue Clue is a colorful card with a VirtueVille Character on one side, like “Gerbil Jill”, who is Gentle, or “Hat Matt”, who is Helpful. The Flip Side of the Card has a sentence explaining the Virtue and a list of antonyms telling what the Virtue is Not. (Very helpful in explaining concepts like Content or Diligent). The Twelve Virtues are Attentive, Content, Diligent, Forgiving, Gentle, Helpful, Honest, Kind, Obedient, Patient, Perserverant, and Self-Controlled. All 12 Virtue Cards come in a clear plastic holder, so you can easily take them with you where ever you go.

The Virtue Cards are for ages 3-18 and are on sale right now for $5.99. The Coloring Book is $3.00 as a download only and The Teacher’s Handbook is $4.95 for a PDF Download and $15.00 for a print copy. They and the freebies mentioned above as well as lots of other really nice looking products can be found here. There are some promotional codes if you are interested … VIRTUE15 for 15% off, FAMILY for $3 off Kids Virtue Poster, SHIPFREE for free shipping. Also any Homeschool Kit (this looks really nice!!!) bought in January or February comes with a free 100 Days of Virtue Poster and Stickers.

I thought this was a really nice product and may find myself ordering additional items from them to go along with what we reviewed. I think I am going to use the cards as rewards. If I notice a particular behaviour, give the child the card to turn in later for a prize. The cards can also be used as reminders on a particular virtue a child may need to be working on.

We received these products free to provide an honest review, accomplished here. Other homeschoolers also received this product, and you can find their review and mine, listed here.

We are certainly Blessed.

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R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish

It surely seems that once I start seriously contemplating the children learning something new, we are blessed enough to receive something to review that falls right nicely into that category. Austin and I have been talking about beginning language learning with the children for Homeschooling. We were offered the REAL Homeschool Spanish to review over the Christmas break.

R.E.A.L. is an Acronym for Relax, Enjoy, Aspire, Learn Spanish. We received the Downloadable version which came with the Book, Activity Book, Answer Key, and Audio Files. The book included 10 units, each with vocabulary, phrases, tips. The first Unit starts off with Greetings. There are also Extended Learning ideas. Also included is an Activity Book (179 pages of supplemental worksheets) and an Answer Key. Also, for those of us, who need pronunciation help, Audio Files are included. There are several sample pages on their website. This is marketed for K-8, although designed so that it could be a family activity to do Together. The download is currently selling for $49.95 (or for $10.00 more get a Daily Curriculum Guide).

Because of this review occurring over the holidays, we weren’t able to delve in as much as we would have liked, but this is definitely something we will be using more of in the future. My kids love the idea of learning Spanish! We recieved this product for free in exchange for an honest review, which I believe I have provided by this blog. Other homeschoolers received this product to review as well, and you can find my review and theirs listed here.

We have been blessed!

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Vintage Remedies

We were able to review a book called Vintage Remedies for Kids. This is a workbook, for kids aged 2-6, to introduce them to natural living and healthy lifestyles. There are three sections in the book – Food and Drink, Health and Wellness, and Healthy Lifestyles. Each section is broken up into a few chapters, and each chapter is broken into parts – Parents Section (background information to inform and educate Mom so she can sound like she knows what she is talking about!!), Read to Me (a Section to read to your children), Additional Comments, Thinking it Over (a few questions to ask for comprehension, Leading By Example (changes Mom can make so that the kids see what they are learning in real life – i.e. eating more fruit, eat more real food, tell children why one food might be healthier than another when making dinner), Featured Project (for example a recipe to encourage what they have learned), Additional Projects (for further learning and encouragement).

There was a lot of information in the book that was very common-sense to me as the parent, but not necessarily something I would think to make a point of with the kids (the why’s of things – why we need to eat our vegetables, wash our hands, take our medicine … why it’s healthier to grow our own food than buy it, etc.). There was also things I didn’t know (what plants and herbs are good for what). Vintage Remedies for Kids would make either a great Unit Study, or a good Health and Nutrition component to Homeschooling. This book retails for $25 and I know at least my kids love projects that mean they get to help out in the kitchen!

I did receive this book for free to offer an honest review on it, which I feel I have done with this blog post. Other homeschoolers also reviewed this book, and you can see their review and mine here.

We are so Blessed!


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Fast Approaching

At the risk of looking too much towards the future and not enjoying today,I am really looking forward to this ever-so-fastly approaching Holiday Season. This time surrounding Thanksgiving on into Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year. I love this time where the weather is cooler, people seem happier because they are remembering all they have to be Thankful for, the stores are prettier as they decorate, ovens are busily working, and families come together.

For a Monday, this has been an exceptionally good day. Tomorrow will be busier, but today has been relaxing. The kids have been well behaved, School was finished without a hitch,  and we’ve even been able to get some things done around the house. I am really blessed.

We’ve been doing some extra work on Family’s and Memories and Thankfulness for our School Work. I love this. And we are starting something new where the bigger kids read to the littler kids each day. Tyler read Madelynne “Go, Dog, Go” and only had to ask a couple of words. Maddy looked at a book with Addy and Brendyn is waiting on Madelynne so he can read a book to her. Tyler had to draw a picture of a favorite thing we have done recently as a family. He drew a picture of Family Night at Church “FamLee Nite”. Love how he spelled it.

Over the weekend we had another of our Scrapbooking in the Country Crops and it went very well. It was a smaller crowd than last time, and I was definitely more worn out, and less motivated, but I always enjoy these weekends! I look forward to the next one in March, when I will also have a new addition to show off!!


Five Special Blessings to Me Today: A Hardworking Husband, Austin having a 4 day Weekend!!!!!!, A Working Washer and Dryer, Scrapbooking with people I am blessed enough to call friends, Well-Behaved Kids

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Phonics and Reading

With lots of littles, seeing a new approach to Phonics was something I was looking forward to. Maybe I’m a Curriculum Junky. I love seeing new curriculums, and new approaches to learning. We were chosen to review Memoria Press’ First Start Reading and Classical Phonics. This program is geared for children K-2.

First Start Reading covers consonants, short vowels, 45 sight words, and handwriting practice. What I found most interesting about this program is their order of letters. The first three letters learned are M, A, S, and the Sight Word “I”. So within the first few lessons, the child is reading “I am” and then “I am Sam.”  Next follows n. And the sentence “I am a man.” It is definitely a different approach to reading. To instantly connect the letters to sentences and words. There are three children’s books which are consumable and include coloring pages, handwriting practice, drawing, reading, and assessment pages and a Teacher’s Guide that retail for $29.95.  The Teacher’s Guide includes Lesson information, helpful assessments, teaching tips, as well as a script to teach each lesson. You can see samples of the children’s pages Here and Here.

Also included with our review was Classical Phonics. Classical Phonics, also written by Cheryl Lowe, is a non-consumable text-book which lists the letters, and word lists. The word lists are phonetically arranged and there are no context clues. It is a quick assessment to see if your child is truly ready to move on to more complicated words. This book retails for $14.95 and is great for practicing and building confident readers. You can see a sample page Here.

I was able to use this program with Madelynne. (She really liked that M was the first letter.) But found that at 4 years old, she needed a few days on each letter before moving on. With Tyler (1st grade) I love the word lists to see where he is in his reading ability and will definitely be using some of these processes moving forward to help him become a more fluent reader. For the price, I really think this is a good program.

We received this product for free to provide an honest review which I feel I have done with this blog post. Other Homeschoolers reviewed this product as well and you can see their review and mine Here.

We are Blessed.

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Homeschooling my Children, Getting to choose my own Curriculum, New approaches (at least new to us) to the same old stuff, Willing learners, Getting to review curriculum

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