March 31, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents ~ Tip #4: You Are Going to Buy Stuff You Just Don't Need (aka. Homeschool Hoarding)

Day 4 of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents is here! I've had fun chatting about Finding Time to Homeschool, admitting that It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed, and Giving My Child a Voice. Today let's talk about hoarding. Because if you are a homeschooler you know that it is possible to be a hoarder. A curriculum hoarder. An art supplies hoarder. A school supplies hoarder.
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip 4 Homeschool Hoarding

Tip #4: You Are Going to Buy Stuff You Don't Really Need

You know that saying that goes 'Don't go shopping when you're hungry"? Same with that saying "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach." Each of these statements deals with the fact that many times we take more than we really need or use. This carries over to homeschooling.

If you are starting homeschooling, you might think that you need to go out and just start buying stuff. Curriculum. Supplies.

March 30, 2016

Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press {Curriculum Review}

One of the areas of curriculum I feel is very important, is studying literature. There are many companies that offer Literature Units and I have used many of them. One that I have had my eye on for quite awhile is from Memoria Press. When we had the chance to review the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set, I jumped at the chance and hoped it would work well in our school.
Memoria Press Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set Product Review

Product Information

Memoria Press is an award winning company known for producing some of the top Classical curriculum available for homeschooling. Some of their more popular curriculum are their grade level literature sets. Carrying a full range of literature units from pre-school through high school, it is possible to find a level perfect for your child.

Each literature unit includes the teacher guide and student guide for each of the books included in the unit. It is also possible to purchase the literature units with copies of the novels for an additional fee.

We were given the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set (retail $95) to review. It includes the printed teacher guide and student guide for each of the following books:
*Cricket in Times Square
*Homer Price
*The Blue Fairy Book
*Dangerous Journey

It is possible to buy each part of the unit individually if you are working through this with more than one child.

How Did We Use This Product?

This is a four book literature set containing the teachers guide and student activity book for the following novels: Homer Price, Cricket in Times Square, Dangerous Journey, and The Blue Fairy Book. Because we had actually JUST finished Cricket in Times Square, I decided that we would start with Homer Price--a book that I was confident my oldest would enjoy. Our library had Homer Price, but neither of the other two books that I needed (which they ordered specially for me), so the book we were going to start with was rather obvious anyway. 

I took some time to glance through the teachers manual to get a feel for how they expected me to do this unit. I noticed the lesson is separated into three sections: pre-reading, after reading, and enrichment. Pre-reading consists of going over a few terms they might be unfamiliar with (cultural or historical usually), reviewing the vocabulary for the day's reading, and reading the comprehension questions. Once this is completed, the student or teacher reads the passage for the day--about 10 pages or so. After the reading, the student can then complete the vocabulary exercise and comprehension questions, as they are taken straight from the day's reading. The next aspect of the lesson is a quote from the book and open ended discussion questions that can be completed orally with the student. Finally, there is the enrichment section, which takes what was discussed further. With every chapter, one of the lessons (there are 2 lessons per chapter) has a copywork passage straight from the book. The rest of the time the enrichment might be sequencing, matching characters with quotations, illustrating passages, or other types of activities like that. I appreciate that all the answers to the questions and vocabulary are printed clearly in the teacher guide for reference.

I already knew that Little Britches was going to balk at all the writing--he's just not a writing kind of person and prefers to answer everything orally. I knew, however, that he NEEDED to practice writing his thoughts and answers down on paper, thus I was going to require him to at least do a portion of the writing in his activity book. 

I also knew he was going to be upset at having to look up definitions of words for the vocabulary portion. He hates using a dictionary (except I just purchased a new one that he does admit he likes) and would prefer just asking SIRI on my phone. LOL. But we talked about the words--using them in the sentences provided--and he successfully was able to come up with the proper definitions for at least half of them without having to look them up. And yes, I "made" him look up most of the other words.

As we have continued through the book, I have him talk through all the vocabulary and see how many he can figure out without looking them up, and then he looks up the handful he doesn't know. Out of the comprehension questions, I allow him to do 1-2 of them orally--usually the ones that are longer, however, the others must be written down. This works well for us and once I did this, he has no problems completing it.

He has already fussed that we stopped in the middle of the story, and I saw him sneak the book and start reading ahead. I got on him laughingly and he sheepishly grinned and put the book away for the next day.
Page from the teacher guide

page from the student guide
We did the curriculum as it was designed, working through each chapter's work. Every chapter had a 4 page spread geared to two sessions of work--with half the chapter being read in each session. I found that we usually did each chapter over the course of a week--because it typically took two days to do each part, but sometimes we knocked out both pages in one day. At the end of each chapter, is a chapter review usually consisting of short answer questions, sequencing, matching quotes to characters, character identification, and other things like that. 
Answering comprehension questions
One of the fun "extras" we did to go with this was to play with yarn (to go with the chapter about collecting string into balls). I timed him to see how big of a yarn ball he could make in 10 minutes, and then I had him unroll it throughout the house (we have a circular hallway) to see how many rounds he could make before he ran out. He enjoyed it very much!

As of this week, we have finished Homer Price (the reading portion), and are just finishing out the student guide as it reviews the book via crosswords, sequencing, characterization, short answer questions, drawings, and such. I will let him choose the next book--either The Blue Fairy Book or Dangerous Journey.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

Little Britches: 
"I really liked the book. It was funny and I think the pictures were interesting. I really don't like writing out the answers to the questions, or looking up the vocabulary words. And I don't like writing down the quotations. I would like it better if we could just read the book and mommy ask me questions out loud. NO writing."

(bwahahahahaahahaha. My auditory learner and his abhorrence to writing)

I really think this is a great literature unit. The books that were picked are a great collection. Each of them is a "classic" in regards great children's fiction. Two of them (Dangerous Journey and The Blue Fairy Book) were unfamiliar to me, which makes them even more enjoyable because I get to enjoy them fresh. 

This is a very classic style of literature unit--everything is read and write. There isn't anything "out of the box" in how it's taught, nor is there any hands-on activities included. There are quizzes and reviews throughout the guide that were pretty low key. I did like the addition of pages where Little Britches could draw his favorite scene from the reading, or do crosswords/word searches. 

One of my favorite parts was in a chapter where two stories, Rip Van Winkle and The Pied Piper of Hamlin, were mentioned. The study guide then had the fairy tales included for the student to read. The next activity was to compare and contrast using those stories--with the chapter in Homer Price. This was great practice for Little Britches AND allowed him to learn two additional stories in the process. 

This not a "complete" language arts program, as it is missing the grammar, spelling, and writing. However, these are easy subjects that could be added to this great literature core.

Even though we didn't use the other Literature units yet in this program, I wanted to briefly mention how they are similar and different from Homer Price:

*Dangerous Journey
This one has a similar set up in that it has pre-reading, vocabulary, and comprehension questions. The enrichment portion is a bit different, as it has multiple choice questions, a drawing page, and information concerning maintaining a map of the story throughout the reading. 

*The Cricket in Times Square
The set is similar to Homer Price. The enrichment portion is also almost identical. There does appear to be additional map work and teaching information in the appendix section that goes with the unit. This includes chapter quizzes (1 every 4 chapters) and a final book test.

*The Blue Fairy Book
Very similar in format. The appendix includes the quizzes and a final exam, as well as answers to the discussion questions. There is also lined paper that can be used for copywork.

In principle, I would say that each of the guides mirror the others, thus once you get in the routine of using them, you will be able to pick up the next one, knowing what to expect with little variation. Each book is intended to be a 6-7 week study, thus with 4 books in this unit, you are looking at a minimum of 24 weeks of lessons, although the way we separated our Homer Price, we would be pushing more towards 28 or 30. This makes up almost an entire year of literature. 

Another pro--IF you wanted to turn these into more hands-on units, I think there is a lot you could do with them. Because these are all actually well known stories, there are a lot of online crafts and activities to go with them, which might make them a better fit for a more hands-on learner. These are totally adaptable, in that if your child doesn't like writing, you could have them orally answer and dictate, however, they are perfect for the visual learner too.

If you are a lapbook or Charlotte Mason method, these probably won't be for you, as they are very traditional in their layout and application. 

Any cons?
Actually, the only con I had, was that I would like to see at least some additional resources that connect with each book--for taking it further, exploring rabbit trails, or finding hands on activities to match. I was able to find a few on my own, but I think it would add to the program if there was a page included in the teacher guide that listed additional resources that could be used.

I think that the program was designed to be adapted for each end of the grade level spectrum, as it does suggest that teacher adjust the assignment to fit what the child is capable of. 

Will we continue to use this program?
Absolutely! I think it's very well done and I like having the guides laid out for me. Now that we aren't doing it as a review, I plan on exploring each book a little further and incorporating more of those crafts and activities as they fit the chapters we are learning. 

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes! This is a great program for the Classical/Traditional/Unit Study method of classroom. I added Unit Study, because it would be very very easy to take these units further and incorporate other subjects to them. They are open and go, and a routine can quickly be set which makes it easy to schedule them into the day. The books can be found at the library (for the most part), and if not, can easily be purchased on the company website. The program encourages critical thinking and analysis of the stories. 

If you want a literature unit that is more hands-on with frequent deviation from the actual reading, this is not going to work for you. If you aren't a big fan of review quizzes and exams, probably not going to work for you (Although I don't think they are necessary if they aren't your style). 

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press. You have read our thoughts on the program, but why not head over and see what the rest of the crew did with their units?! We had members checking out levels Pre-K through 9th grade, so you can get a peak at what to expect at all the levels.
Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
Want to stay up to date with the latest happenings at Memoria Press? Follow them on these social media outlets:

Twitter (@MemoriaPress) -

Instagram (@memoriapress)




I am very happy that this unit was what I was hoping for. I look forward to continuing the rest of the books that we were given, and I will definitely be checking out the upcoming grade levels for future use!

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5 Days of Tips to Homeschool Parents: Tip #3 Give Your Child a Voice (It's THEIR education remember?)

We are three days into our 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents series brought to you by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. If you have been visiting some of the other bloggers participating, you have seen a fabulous collection of topics that fit under this umbrella theme. So far, I've chatted about Finding Time to Homeschool and accepting that It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to talk about today, but then I decided to share something that I have learned how to do, which makes our homeschooling experience a lot more smooth. I give my children a voice.
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip 3

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Tip #3 Give Your Students A Voice in Their School

What? What on earth do I mean by this? 

Well, let's think about it. When you were in school, did you ever have a say in what you were going to learn? Could you talk about with your teacher the subjects you liked, or didn't like? Could you offer up suggestions on things you'd like to study more about? How about the order? Were you able to pick which subject you wanted to do when? Did you get to pick what books you read for literature? Or help find a math curriculum that fit you the best?

If you were a public schooled child, the answer is probably a resounding...NO! 

March 29, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip #2 It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed

It's day 2 for our blog series, 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents, brought to you by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Yesterday, I shared about Finding Time to Homeschool. Today I am going to go with a topic that sort of goes hand in glove with yesterday's post. Let's take a moment and talk about the pressure that homeschool parents face. We get it from all sides. Family. Friends. Society. Government. Ourselves. It can be seem to be so overwhelming. But you know what? It's okay to feel that way.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Tip #2: It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed

Let's face it. The moment you even began to consider the idea of homeschooling, the pressures began. Just removing the pressures of outside things--the enormous undertaking that is homeschooling can be crushing. Why? Because we are our own worst enemies. 

Doubt. Fear. Worry. Anxiety. Anger. Resentment. Depression. 
These are the pressures that we face as parents in general, but when you throw in the heavy load of bearing the full responsibility for our child's education? Yeah. Magnify those by a million. I DARE any homeschool parent to say that they have NEVER...NOT EVEN ONCE felt any of those feelings about homeschooling. 

Because it's real. It's true. We all face it. 

March 28, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: A Heart Made of Indigo by Shaela Kay {Book Review}

I love historical fiction. I REALLY love historical fiction that takes place in a land far far away. The exotic the better. When I learned that my good friend Shaela Kay was working on her first novel, I was happy for her. When she told me she was going to have me review it--I felt honored! Needless to say when I learned that it was a historical fiction set in the heart of India, I was eager to get my hands on it. When A Heart Made of Indigo arrived in the mail, I was very eager to read it to review.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About the Book

A Heart Made of Indigo begins in London, England 1831 and then shifts the scene to Calcutta, India on an Indigo plantation. The story follows young Katherine Greenwood as she escapes her abusive step-father and escapes by ship to find refuge in a land she's only heard stories about from her beloved but estranged grandmother...the exotic wilds of India. She has no money and no job waiting, thus she depends on the good graces of a woman she met on the ship who fortunately helps her get a job at an indigo plantation as a maid-of-all-work, even though she has no experience. 

What follows next is a tale about Katherine finding her place in the land she is growing to love--even though it's so foreign from her own. Will she find love? Will she find acceptance? Or will she be forced to leave a land she now loves and once only dreamed about?

My Thoughts

I think this is a very sweet story and that the author does a good job exploring the world of 1800 India. I love the very vivid word pictures that are used to describe the different settings in the book--especially in places like the menagerie.

I think the characters are fairly developed, though I would like to know a bit more about Katherine and the things related to her grandmother. We know she has a relationship with her, but I would have liked to know MORE, especially since we know her grandmother is who got her interested in India to begin with. Actually I would have liked a lot more of Katherine's earlier life.

In relation to the plot--okay, it was actually pretty predictable. Did I ever want to stop reading? No. It was still a sweet romantic story. I finished just in case I was wrong with my prediction. LOL. Who was my favorite character? Probably Mr. Mendenhall's sister Sarah. She was just a sweet girl with a sense of adventure.

I really would have liked more meat to this story...and it was very predictable. I don't think there was enough exploration of the reality of the idea that Katherine was on her own without money or plans. She was a young girl going to a land where she can have so many things happen to her...and most of it just didn't happen. Takes away the reality of the situation she was in. I also am harder on books than most people, so I know many others would give it just a good 5 stars.

I still think this book is a sweet read for anyone who likes historical romance (clean!) and a good first novel for a rookie author like my friend!

A Heart Made of Indigo
by Shaela Kay
ISBN # 978-1519304322
Available in Kindle and Paperback


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5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip #1 Find the Best Time to Homeschool (for your OWN family)

Welcome to the kick off of the first Schoolhouse Review Crew blog series of 2016! A whole bunch of us are working together to bring you posts galore all related to the umbrella theme of 5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents. There is so much to explore under this theme--so let's kick it off here with my first post this week. Today I'm going to be talking about Finding The Best Time to Homeschool.
Tip #1: Finding the Best Time to Homeschool

Tip #1- Find the time to do school that works the best for YOUR family

There are a lot of people who WANT to homeschool, but declare that they don't think they could do it because of the time it would take each and every day. They seem to have a vision of homeschooling where it's a set time every single day during the week. It's what a public school or private school does, so it must be the same for homeschoolers. They envision a 6-8 hour day stuck at a table or desk with their kids as they do school. Every single day. 

Nope. Nada. Not true.

Every single family that chooses to homeschool finds their own perfect homeschooling time. It doesn't matter the size of your family. It doesn't matter how genius your children are (or aren't! LOL).

March 27, 2016

A Peek At This Week's Lineup~ 3/27/2016

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Hello! Happy Spring! It is going to be a simply beautiful day here on the farm--looking at nearly 80 degrees! Woo hoo! Everyone here is so very very VERY happy at this forecast because we are ready to get out and get stuff done!

I thought I would take a minute to get you a "forecast" of what's going to be going on here on the blog this week. It's going to be VERY busy!

Starting tomorrow, the Schoolhouse Review Crew will be doing our biannual 5 Days of... blog hop. This is when we all blog under a generic theme and you are able to hop among our blogs to read the posts we have chosen to share with you under the umbrella theme. This year, our first blog hop is 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents. You are going to find a plethora of information this week. There is so much that could be talked about under this theme! I really hope that you will join us over the course of this week as we explore this topic. What am I going to blog about this week? Um. That may or may not still be up in the air. LOL. But I promise that I will have at least three days of sharing on this topic--starting tomorrow!

So make sure you check in because these blog hops are always informative and very enjoyable! If you want to see what I did for past blog hops, here are the links:

*5 Days of...How Do I Teach and Still Fulfill My Role as Wife and Mother?
*5 Days of...Favorite Family Recipes
*5 Days of...Homeschooling Essentials
*5 Days of...Debunking 5 Common Homeschool Myths

On Wednesday, I will be posting my review of the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press. This is a literature curriculum that I have been using with Little Britches over the last weeks. I am looking forward to sharing with you about how the review has been going for us and what my thoughts are on it.

Sometime this week, I am also going to be sharing two book reviews. The special thing about each of these reviews, is that they are books by new authors! One of the authors is actually a special friend of mine that I have known for about 10 years, which makes it EXTRA special. I look forward to introducing A Heart Made of Indigo by Shaela Kay and Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette with you!

I encourage you to at least go read their summary in order to wet your whistle--Counted with the Stars is available for pre-order (released April 5), but A Heart Made of Indigo is already available for purchase.

As an extra bit of excitement, I am going to be attending the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati this coming Friday (April 1) which is something I have been waiting for all year. This year, I plan on Instagramming my adventures and sharing my finds throughout the day. I hope you will follow me on Instagram to share in the excitement! I am hoping that I will run into some of my favorite fellow bloggers and I'm not-so-secretly hoping to meet IEW's Andrew Peduwa in person! It's going to be a jam packed day and thanks to the beauty of technology, I should be able to share it with you!

If you DON'T have Instagram, fear not. I plan on blogging all about my adventures once I return home, so you won't miss out!

Long story short---it's going to be a VERY VERY busy week. But week's where my blog is full brings me a LOT of satisfaction. If you aren't interested in homeschooling or books (can we even be friends if you don't like books? LOL), I plan on incorporating tips for meal planning in the middle of my 5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents, so you might still want to check in!

Have a simply delightful Sunday! It's going to be nearly 80 degrees here today, so our family is out and about soaking up our Vitamin D and getting things done here on the farm! Time to go get my hands dirty and knock out some gardening!


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March 25, 2016

Science With Tots Deluxe Kit from Timberdoodle...It's Not Just for Tots! {Product Review}

We love science at our house. If the boys had their way, we would do science every single day of the week. Big messy experiments. But in the real world of our homeschool, that just isn't going to happen. One of the biggest issues I have with experiments is collecting all the materials needed--because I always seem to be missing something. The other is that Baby Britches (Age 5) doesn't always get to do cool exciting experiments like his older brother. Enter Timberdoodle Co, and their Science With Tots Deluxe Kit! We were all eager to review this product to see how it worked for our family!

Product Summary

Science With Tots Deluxe Kit is a product from the award winning Timberdoodle Co. Timberdoodle has been around since 1985 and is a family owned company dedicated to bringing you the best options for homeschooling supplies! 

Science with Tots Deluxe Kit brings you the My First Super Science Kit, the Learning Resources Early Science Explorers Kit, the Horseshoe Magnet, and access to the exclusive Science with Tots e-book download. This download has thirty-six weeks of easy, hands-on experiments that help you take this kit even further!

An example of weekly experiments/tips from the exclusive e-book.

Here are all the supplies that are included in the kit--which is inside of a zippered clear storage bag:
The only things you will need to provide will be odds and ends from around your house like cups, water, rubber bands, coffee well as potting soil and fast growing seeds (grass, beans, radishes, or flowers or whatever grows quickly). 

The Science With Tots Deluxe Kit retails for $56.60 and is also included in the Timberdoodle 2015 Pre-K Curriculum Kit

How Did We Use This Product?

There was much excitement when the box arrived from Timberdoodle and we started taking out all the items. Baby Britches was ready for me to bust it open, and was bummed when I mentioned that I wanted to look over everything first. 

The first things I dug out was the instruction manual, where I was very happy to discovered a whole host of experiments laid out for me. Each of the activities are labelled at the top noting the type of science, the area of science, and the science skill it is. Every activity notes what supplies are needed from the kit, and for you to grab. The experiment is very simply laid out. Included in the experiment is questions for discovery for the adult to ask the student. Once the experiment has been explained, there is a section that describes the science behind the experiment--giving a delightful little science lesson to the child. There are 70 different activities included in the manual, from simple magnifying glass use, to the messy ones that kids adore. 
List of all the Supplies needed (and the ones included)
Example of an activity (ie. experiment) from the manual
I also looked over the exclusive e-book that is included with the purchase of a Deluxe kit. It is full color, and ties in with the manual. It is a 36 week full curriculum guide for helping you use your kit throughout a traditional school year. I appreciated the tips included in the e-book with advice like --don't throw out your colored water! You will need it for the next experiment. The book can be printed out (it's in pdf form), or you could simply use it on a tablet for easy reference. I chose to just reference it as needed on my Kindle.

Throughout the manual--with every activity--your child is encouraged to record their results and predictions through words and illustration in a science notebook of sorts. We use a primary composition notebook as it has the lines for writing, and space for drawing.

This kit was originally intended to be used with my 5 year old (Baby Britches), but as we continued exploring the different experiments, it became clear that Little Britches (Age 10) was JUST as interested. 

Here are some photos of our times exploring some of the activities included in the kit...

Learning about a magnifying glass

Documenting his results
My little mixologist at work creating new colors

the Super Absorbent Crystals we turned into colored Jelly Crystals
Learning about how markers are made up of many different colors

Exploring chemical reactions with baking soda and colored vinegar

Fizzy Art!

Learning about basic laws of circuits with the Energy Stick

They REALLLY love this Energy Tube and how it works. They thought it was hilarious that you could make it flash and make noise when they completed a circuit by kissing me if we were all holding it.

As of right now, we have also made rainbow tubes, grown a spider and a starfish, and learned about primary colors. We have hardly scratched the surface of this kit--and so much left to do!

Our Thoughts on the Product

The boys think it's awesome. They would be content if we did nothing but one experiment right after another. Their favorites are anything that makes messes, or does the unexpected, however, they both REALLY enjoy the magnifying glasses included and the big magnet. 

I honestly can't say enough about this kit. I have written many posts about how the one thing I hate about doing science in our homeschool is the experiments--how I never seem to have what is needed. This kit takes that aspect away! I now have test tubes, pipettes, tweezer, magnifying glasses, and all the nitty gritty supplies to do the cool experiments. Another thing that I really like? The absorbent supplies they included--can all be dried out and stored to use again and again and again!

I love how the experiments are set up with information about WHY everything does what it does AND the science skill that each activity teaches. This kit is really ideal for starting your science adventures off fabulous! 

Although the age on this is suggested at age 4-8, my 10 year old has loved doing every single experiment with us. Having the observation notebooks as suggested, allows him to document what we discuss and what he learns. I would definitely suggest that the Science with Tots Deluxe Kit, is NOT just for tots--but a GREAT starter kit for ANY elementary leveled child. 

As a parent I appreciate that all the information is there for me--what to say, what to do, what to explain. No guessing. No creating from scratch. It would be very easy to add on to all of these experiments with additional reading and exploration--or to pick the ones you  need to match whatever curriculum you are currently using.

I would absolutely recommend this product as a great starter kit for any homeschool with elementary grade students. I also think it would make a great gift for any science minded child/family. We will definitely be pulling out the various elements of this kit for our science adventures in the future! I am very happy to have such success with my first Timberdoodle product and look forward to many more in my future!

You can connect with Timberdoodle at the following social media outlets:



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March 23, 2016

10 Things I've learned and Loved Being a Beginner: Our Homeschool Story~ Guest Post {Homeschooling: Keeping It Real}

Today's installment of my Homeschooling: Keeping it Real series features a guest post from my friend Charlotte who blogs over at Sewing Little Seeds

We are new at homeschooling, so new that we can’t even really give advice on programs, schools, classes, co-ops, local homeschool events, discounts, curriculum, learning styles, or anything like that. BUT…I can tell you that we LOVE it! I can tell you that my children are happy and flourishing and that those shameful “behaviors” that the school system couldn’t stop complaining about long enough to actually try to help anyone…well, they are pretty much gone. The decision changed our lives. There is no stress, no crying about school, no mysterious illnesses to get out of school, no teacher’s notes, no medication, few behavioral issues, and something wonderful instead. HAPPINESS. So, today, I am going to share with you “Ten Things I've Learned and Loved Being a Beginner: Our Homeschool Story.”
10 Things I've Learned and Loved Being a New Homeschooling Parent: Homeschooling Keeping It Real Series Part 3

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1. Biting the Bullet 

The most challenging thing thus far has been actually coming to the crossroads in our children's education and then making the decision to do it--to pull them from public school. This is probably the largest part of my story, as I fought the notion to homeschool for nearly 6 years before I had the faith to do it! Then I had to overcome the fear of messing up my kids. We were trying our best to provide for our children’s educations, while one of them began to struggle with behaviors at school and was labeled ADHD. It led to a subsequent diagnosis and a medication trial we would quickly regret. 

Things at the time seemed great at home. Sure there were bad days and times where she didn’t listen well, but nothing that in my eyes constituted labeling her a problem child; however, I received a different story from her teachers. I received notes describing worries for her maturity and her ability to keep up with school work, as well as complaints that she couldn’t sit still for very long and that she got distracted easily. Not a big deal really in just one child, unless you have 25 or so other children to deal with as you try to teach something. I began to suspect the teacher was simply too overwhelmed to work with an outside-the-box, more active child. She just couldn’t (wouldn't?) adjust the classroom or plans to help my daughter learn at her best, so we decided after much discussion and prayer that after winter break, she and her little brother wouldn’t return to school. Once decided, we moved with swift action to complete registration with an umbrella school and then the journey began…you can read more about the early days on my blog.

2) The Insanity of Choosing The Curriculum 

If you have ever considered homeschooling, then I am sure you have seen the plethora of curriculum options out there and probably thought to yourself that it seemed overwhelming. 

You are right. It is. 

I waded through the idea of purchasing a full curriculum. I heavily considered A Beka as I chatted with representatives, calculated the cost, tried to tell myself it would provide the accountability I needed as a parent, and that it would snuff out my fear of messing up my kids. However, something about bringing the classroom into the home (which is what the online academy does) seemed counter productive, especially considering that the goal for our family was to tailor school to fit my kids and not tailor my kids to fit school. So, I tossed the idea of a full blown created-for-me curriculum out the window. As I researched homeschooling styles, I began to feel like I had no idea what I was doing and that’s simply because, well, I didn’t. I began to read articles and blogs about how others approached homeschooling and it led to something quite unexpected and beyond wonderful.

3) The Importance and Joy of De-schooling 

In my exploration of different articles and blogs, I read an article about de-schooling. De-schooling is something that is done immediately after pulling your children from public school. It is the idea of doing nothing in regards to formal education, while you enjoy life---basically observing and enjoying your children. This allowed me to get a feel for their personalities, their best time of day for learning, and see their natural tendencies towards activities as I looked for and recognized clues to discover their individual learning styles. THIS experience led to a sudden revelation.  

4) Allowing them to direct things. It's liberating!

My 6yr old little girl loves to read. Her best time of day is split; she an early morning learner and an early evening learner. We started with Bible study in the morning, followed by a break, then I used this website called Easy Peasy Homeschool for ideas. She began asking for a Math book.

5) Tailoring the Subjects to Suit Them

Now that I can see their interests, I can tailor our subjects to fit THEM. Science projects, Bible study, making up a reading program so my daughter can read her favorite books. She is a reader, like me, and absorbs things well this way. So, when she requested an actual Math book (a subject her teacher had been particularly concerned about), I began looking for ideas. A friend recommended this Math curriculum called Life of Fred.

6) Discovering the Goodness that is Life of Fred Math 

As I mentioned previously, my daughter learns best by reading and she is an advanced reader. When she asked for an actual math book, I started looking around and Life of Fred math series was recommended to me. I got on their website and sampled the first chapter. Color me impressed! I set out to try it. So, one night I sat her down with a copy of the first chapter and she breezed through it. It is tailored for her learning style. It is quite an enjoyable story line and math concepts are part of the story. I got a chance to order the first several books and WE LOVE IT. We also got the early readers for her little brother who is Pre-K age. He is already reading! So, Life of Fred? Yes, it really is THAT good. (shameless plug for endorsement lol)

7) Discovering My Daughter is an Advanced Reader

She was reading first grade level at school and blowing through the tiny books she brought home. I had bought a few early chapter books awhile back, so one day I introduced her to the hilarity that is Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody (which are roughly at level 2-3). She was so good at reading and comprehension that we quickly moved to the Magic Tree House books and the Boxcar Children. She blew me away reading fluidly and her comprehension level astounded me, as I quizzed her weekly. She remember fine details of the story that even you and I might not recall. 

8.) Feeling a Sense of Purpose

The day my friend sent me the link to the movie Indoctrination, gave me a feeling that God had given me a sense of purpose and solidified our decision to homeschool. As many would say, I did have a brief period of feeling I had bitten off more than I could chew and that perhaps, I had made a poor hasty decision. That is, until the day my friend sent me the link to watch Indoctrination for free. Being the curious person that I am, I watched it. I took notes and sent numerous messages to my husband. Although I didn’t really need further confirmation that it was the right decision, it certainly helped solidify some underlying feelings I’d had about school. I felt a little more certain and empowered to face the beast of fear deep down inside me and that day through this movie, my personal Bible study, and talk time with God….that sneaky fear-mongering devil was defeated. 

9) Refusing to get caught up in bringing the classroom home

A challenge that a lot of homeschoolers face is being caught up in making your homeschool, just a home version of the public school classroom. I am refusing to get caught up in bringing the classroom home, but rather making learning an experience and an enjoyable one at that. I cannot express enough that the key for homeschool to work for us was in de-schooling (like debriefing--giving your child a chance to release from the public school setting) and letting God take the fear of messing up my kids away from me. It has been the greatest blessing to realize that my child wasn’t struggling with school work, but, rather the stress of conforming to fit inside the little box you are required to fit in to be accepted and successful in public school.  Obviously, she didn’t fit inside their little fact, she blew the edges off! She loves learning and her little brother is just trucking along behind her. 

10) Discovering local homeschool resources

One day, we visited the local Hands of Science Center with a homeschooling friend. We had planned to spend the morning letting them explore and then having lunch and letting them play somewhere. When we stepped up to the counter, a lady excitedly exclaimed, “Oh! Are you guys homeschoolers?” To which we happily replied, “yes, we are!” She then gave us several schedules for age appropriate activities for our children and a schedule for a homeschool program. There was one that afternoon and she invited us to come. The program was called Arcs and Sparks and featured experiments about electricity. We were all enamored and excited. We renewed our membership so we could attend the activities; it was a worthy investment.


In summary, homeschool has resulted in improving my personal outlook on life, and reaffirmed (through God) that I am making good decisions for my family. I love seeing them enjoy school, get excited over books coming in the mail, learning without a major struggle or fighting to make them complete something, and finally, we have enjoyed a increased closeness in our family as this decision affects so many aspects in our lives! We are so thankful for God leading us to this decision. We are homeschoolers and this is our homeschool story!

Meet Charlotte

My name is Charlotte. My husband, David and I, have three fearfully and wonderfully children ages 4,6, and 14. We live in Manchester, TN.  I currently homeschool our two youngest ones and our oldest is finishing this year at school and will join us next year. I am also a full time night shift nurse. Homeschooling can definitely be successful while holding a job. It has really been the adventure of a lifetime. I casually blog about our homeschooling journey at I pray our story about the journey that led us to homeschooling is an encouragement and a blessing to anyone who reads it.

I hope that you enjoyed this post sharing the behind the scenes about things that a new homeschooling parent has learned during her early days of her new adventure. This is my third installment of Homeschooling: Keeping It Real series. I hope that you are enjoying this look behind the scenes at what it's like to be a homeschooler, and will continue to check back in for the rest of the series as we continue to give you honest and real peaks at our lives!
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March 22, 2016

Owlegories from An Animated Series Using Lessons from Nature to Teach about God {Product Review}

Do you enjoy videos for your children that teach about God and the Christian way of life? We sure do. We own several, but are always on the look out for more clever videos to add to our collection. We were given the DVD Owlegories: The Ant, the Fruit, and the Butterfly from to review and I hoped that it would be another winner for our collection.
Owlegories from ~Product Review

Product Summary

Owlegories: The Ant, The Fruit, and the Butterfly is one of the many delightful Christian children's videos that carries. The video is an animated series teaching children more about God by looking at beautiful and incredible things found in the world around us and seeing how it ties into messages in God's word. The main characters of this cute series are a Professor Owl and his five little owl students named Violet, Joey, Twitch, Gus, and Nora. There is also an antagonist of an owl named Devlin and his hummingbird sidekick who try to wreck the plans of the kids.

In this volume of Owlegories, there are three stories:
*The Ant: The children must work together on a mission to collect syrup for the pancakes the professor is making.  As part of their mission, the children must learn three ways that followers of Christ should be like the ant. The message of this episode is one of Hard Work.

*The Fruit: The professor sends the children to an apple orchard in order to teach them about the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. The children learn what all 9 Fruit of the Spirit are in this episode.

*The Butterfly: In this episode, the kids must get over their fear of bugs, as they search for caterpillars in the nature around them. They also must determine three ways that a follower of Christ is like the very bug they are searching for.  The message of this video is one of finding true freedom as a believer in God.

The runtime for Owlegories: The Ant, The Fruit, and the Butterfly (retail $9.99) is approximately 34 minutes.

Our Thoughts on the Product

The boys really enjoyed this video. They loved the characters and found the stories humorous as well as informative.  I heard them giggling several times throughout the course of the shows. Baby Britches said he liked The Ant episode the best, because he liked it when Devlin got stuck in the ant hill. Little Britches liked The Butterfly episode the most because he said it had the most funny stuff in it. Both have asked me if there are any more episodes, so I know that they enjoyed them.  I discovered that there is another dvd of Owlegories on, so I am going to watch for it to go on sale.

Included with the DVD is a pamphlet that gives information for signing up to receive notification of new episodes of Owlegories as well as the opportunity to receive a promo code to watch a free episode of the series on my smart phone or tablet. I am going to check this out, because I know they would enjoy watching more.

I think my boys reactions says it all. These are cute episodes that teach good lessons about God and His way of life. My favorite was The Fruit because it likened attitudes like anger and greed to rotten apples that fall from a tree and make a mess. This is a great visual and a way for me to remind the boys of their bad attitudes.

I think this video is a good production and one that I definitely recommend. The only drawback, is that I don’t purchase videos anymore because of being able to stream shows on all my devices. I think it would be cool if the purchase of the DVD gave you access to streaming the episodes to your device like other DVDs now offer.  If the other DVD of Owlegories goes on sale (because right now $9.99 is too much for me to spend on a short DVD like this), I will definitely be purchasing it for our collection.

Want to Know More?

You have read my review of Owlegories: The Ant, The Fruit, and The Butterfly from, but how about heading over to see the other movies that our review crew checked out? Review
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