December 31, 2013

One Word for 2014

Here we are on December 31, the very cusp of the new year. A new year means new goals. New dreams. And this year, I'm joining with other The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers and seeking a word...just one focus on over the course of the year. A word to print off and put on my fridge so that I can see it every single day and bring to mind what it means every time.
Word for 2014
Joy...that was my word for 2013. After suffering a miscarriage at the end of 2012, I asked God to "Show me Joy!" And that word became my unofficial word for the year. The loving Father granted me my request and this year was full of moments of joy. Joy in the big stuff and joy in the little stuff. It was the perfect fit. But now I'm searching again. There are so many words I could choose...intentional, focus, love, simplify, purify, commitment...the list goes on and on and on.

But none of those fit...none of those are a match to my goals for 2014.

In March of 2014, I will be attending a Women's Enrichment Weekend where the theme of the weekend is "The Fruits of the Spirit".
I love reading that scripture. I memorized it ages ago. There are so many words in that scripture that I could focus on...and as I read it over this past week as part of word search, one kept jumping out. 

*F a i t h f u l n e s s*

What is the definition of the word faithful?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1. full of faith
2. steadfast in affection or allegiance
3. firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty
4. true to the facts or a standard

If you are faithful, then you are practicing faithfulness.

There are synonyms that help bring to light the depths of meaning in the word faithful:
true, loyal, steadfast, devoted, constant, staunch, reliable, steady, true-blue

I am drawn to this word. I see places in my life where I need to become more faithful. I could have chosen the word "Perseverance" because I'm absolutely horrible about follow-thru on things. I will start with great intentions and then something always comes up which spins me around. But then I thought about it and faithful describes that too. Being faithful to complete something. Being faithful to stay true to a goal or mission.

And that took me to one of my favorite scriptures...
Philippians 1:6 verse

There is a song by Christian Artist Steve Green called "He who Began a Good Work in You" and the chorus is written as:
"He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it...He who started the work will be faithful to complete it in you."

And that line just keeps rolling through my mind. God is not like me in just cranking a wheel and then walking away. Or starting to work with someone and then walking away. He is a God of finishing. He starts things and I can count on His faithfulness to see them to completion. I want to be more like that. I want to be counted as someone who is faithful. To pray faithfully. To study faithfully. But not just in my spiritual my everyday life too. If I tell someone I will do something, I want them to know I will be faithful and keep my promise to do it. No excuses. No "I forgot's". When I plan out a list of goals of things to accomplish, I want to be faithful to my list and work hard at completing them. I want to be faithful to my vows I made to my husband to take of the family and home. To be his faithful "helpmeet" that he can count on no matter what. To be faithful to take my health seriously and get back on track. To be faithful to commitments big or small.

And so my one word for 2014...
synonyms for faithful

I will be checking in quarterly in 2014 to share how it's going focusing on my word. I'm excited about it because I think so much of what I need to work on can be encapsulated in this word!

Do YOU have a word picked for 2014?

December 30, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal for Dec 30th

Click here to join in!
• In my life this week…
We are hoping to stay in track! We did some great work yesterday cleaning and clearing out STUFF…you know. The things that get accumulated…extra clothes that don’t get warn. Random boxes and bags. Things here and there. I took THREE garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill yesterday! It felt SOOO good! LOL!

I was also blessed with a new vehicle AND a new washer and dryer. My husband told me it was my most expensive “birthday” yet! LOL! It was one of those scenarios where everything just died—well not the car, but everything else. I actually ENJOYED doing laundry this weekend because I could do it so quickly!

• In our homeschool this week…
Just trucking along with our state studies. We are also enjoying our book Farmer Boy and the studies around that. We are working on stacking double digit numbers in math for addition and subtraction. This week we will also be making a soda bottle bird feeder and string some popcorn and berries to hang out for the birds still around this winter. We are enjoying our bird studies.

• Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Prayer. The power of prayer every morning specifically for school does WONDERS for our family. Attitudes are much better and the focus is there. I will sometimes be in the middle of a crazy hectic schoolday and then go “Wait! We didn’t pray today!” It makes THAT big of a difference!

• Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We have my sister-in-law and my husband’s cousin in until after New Years so we are enjoying seeing them every day.

• My favorite thing this week was…
Getting my new vehicle, new washer and new dryer for SURE!

• My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Playing with Aunt Cindy…she’s their “favorite” aunt so they are very happy to have her here.

• Things I’m working on…
It’s like that old Barney song “Clean up Clean up Everybody everywhere…” I am working on cleaning up and cleaning out! I want to start the new year with order and organization. I’m not prone to be that way, but I enjoy doing it and the results!

• I’m cooking…
Something with chicken…I am thinking a nice chicken casserole of some sort. I also need to make another loaf of bread.

• I’m grateful for…
The finances to cover things like a washing machine breaking! We always make sure we have a “rainy day” fund…and my husband was blessed with finding copper on a work site and being granted permission to have it for trade in by his boss. It paid for our washing machine!

• I’m praying for…
A sweet dear lady in our congregation…she’s not doing well. She not only has a UTI, but she has pneumonia, a staph infection and they just discovered a break in her back. Doctors aren’t sure whether or not she will make it as she is elderly and feeble. So I am praying for peace and God’s will in this situation.

• I rewarded my kids this week by…
Letting them stay the night with my in-laws so they could enjoy even more time with their aunt.

• Something I am ogling or have my eye on…
I am actually not really ogling anything right now. I was just incredibly blessed with huge things and I’m still living on that euphoria! LOL!

• A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
Here’s a photo of my little monkey after we finished making our last batch of elderberry syrup yesterday…he helped me so took great pleasure in posing with our finished jar!


December 24, 2013

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Top 5 Winter Books for Children

We love the winter! We love books about winter and snow, but as a family that doesn't celebrate Christmas, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find good winter themed books that do not center around or even mention Christmas. There are many families (like ours) who desire just some good winter themed books that can be used all season long; therefore, I am sharing our family's five most favorite reads for this time of year...ones we seek out as soon as the first snow hits!
five winter books for children

The books that I have chosen are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. There is a science book, chapter book, poetry book, picture book and a biography. This is why I love this group of five books...and they are just right for any age! My 3 year old AND my 7 year old enjoy all of them and so do I. We hope you will enjoy getting to know these books and will make a point of adding them to your reading list this season!

by Virginia Lee Burton
Anyone familiar with Virginia Lee Burton should already know that this book is a winner! Katy is a bulldozer with a snow plow attachment who helps save the city when a blizzard buries everything. The illustrations are full of life and your children will enjoy tracing the map as Katy digs out the city! My boys ADORE that it's a bulldozer as the main character and will have me read this book every single day. Because this book is part of the Five in a Row (FIAR) curriculum, we have done that before and it was beloved by all!

by Robert Frost and Susan Jeffers (Illustrator)
What's not to love about this gorgeous piece of poetry by Robert Frost? We love the rhythm of the words and this book captures them in gorgeous illustrations of frosty New England scenes. It's a great way to incorporate poetry reading this winter! This book is also a part of the FIAR curriculum for those who would love a unit study using it.

by M. Scott Peck and Christopher Scott Peck (Illustrator)
I discovered this book at the library when I typed in "snow" in the search field of the local library catalog. It turned out to be a delightful read. This book chronicles the discoveries of young Jenny as she endeavors to examine the life of snowflakes--beginning with a friendly snowflake she names "Harry". Through it she learns about what is truly important in life---love, family and friendships. It is a chapter book, so those readers who are more advanced will enjoy reading this book for themselves. We have enjoyed reading it out loud. This book has been out of print since 1997, but I'm sure you could ask about it at your library.
*Note: There is a spot in the last chapter that deals with a soul and mentions reincarnation in passing [the father talks about it as a belief of the Hindus]. It doesn't go into very much detail about the subject but a belief in an immortal soul is implied. Our family doesn't believe in an immortal soul, so we had a discussion over this part and what it was talking about.

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This beautiful book is a children's biography about Wilson Bentley, a late 1800's snowflake photographer who first put forth the evidence that no two snowflakes are alike. His story is brought to life in lovely woodcut illustrations, and shares his scientist's vision for learning and his passion for nature. There is extra information about him in the side portions of each page. The book is highly informative and is a great addition to any study on snowflakes or snow. This book is yet another that is part of the FIAR curriculum.

by Kenneth Libbrecht
If you have never seen this book, I highly recommend you find it. A friend directed me to it and when I asked the library, they ordered it for me. It is STUNNING! This book walks through the life of a snowflake step-by-step, from a single snowflake's perspective. Starting from it's creation in the clouds to its sparkling final rest on a child's mitten. The book is full of REAL photographs of every step of a snowflake. It's geared for ages 6-12, but my three year old LOVED seeing all the different snowflakes. 

If you only try one new book this year, I recommend this one! It makes snowflakes breathtakingly brilliant and even more magical. This book is also ranked #3 by for Best Children's Photography books!

I hope that you will be inspired to check out some of these--or all of these--delightful winter books! There are many more that we love to read, but I think these are definitely the Top 5!

What is your most favorite winter children's book?


December 18, 2013

Write From History~ A Giveaway!

Many of you read my recent review of the delightful Charlotte Mason inspired writing curriculum Write From History...
Now you have the chance to win one of the books in the series for yourself!

Giveaway Guidelines
1. One new eBook will be given away each week until January 31st.
(By the way, you get to choose which Write from History eBook you receive.)

2. Winners will be announced at

3. You may enter once each week.
(It’s possible to win more than once!)

4. You get to snag a FREE handwriting E-book!

This contest runs from now thru January 15th, 2014, so make sure you head on over and get entered to win! All of the fans of my Farm Fresh Adventures Facebook Page get a free entry!



December 16, 2013

Fresh from the Bookshelf: A Talent for Trouble (a review)

book review talent for trouble jen turano
When it comes to picking books to read, I am a sucker for a great title...and if the title comes with an eye-catching cover...well, let's just say it jumps right into my hot little hands! Needless to say the minute I read the title of the third installment of the Ladies of Distinction series by Jen Turano...I was hooked. When the book came and I saw the stunning and vibrant cover, I had to dive right on in!

book review talent for trouble
A Talent For Trouble-Print

"For years, Miss Felicia Murdock's every thought and action have been in pursuit of becoming a minister's wife. When the minister she'd set her sights on has other ideas, she decides something in her life needs to change--and soon--before she wastes any more time pretending to be someone she's not. If that means spreading her wings and embracing a more lively way of life, who's to say nay?" (from back cover)

This story opens at the wedding of the minister that Felicia Murdock always KNEW she was going to marry--except she's not the bride. From here we see her mourning the loss of not just her future life, but of the life she's wasted all these years in her efforts to be the demure young lady she was sure he desired. Now she's ready to move forward and beginning with the purging of every old fashioned and rather hideous item of apparel she owns, she comes into the incredible (even if rather impetuous) woman God made her to be. That includes reverting back to her rather careless self, who stumbles into some rather troublesome situations...

And that's where we find Grayson Sumner (aka. Lord Sefton)...someone who just wants to settle down in the life of a respectable New York Gentleman but finds himself caught up in Felicia's antics! It's great fun to read their adventures together as they try to keep each other out of trouble--he from his dangerous past and she from her overzealous present!

So what were my thoughts on the book?

I was very happy to see that Felicia, a previous background character in the early books, has her day in the spotlight with this book! The reader was given hints into her hidden personality before, but now it all comes out with full force and we see she's a force of nature to be reckoned with!

I was relieved to see the main characters of book #1 and #2 are very strong supporting characters in this book. I always enjoy that in a series.

I connected with Felicia's spontaneous nature! She's full of zest and life...and once she cast aside her old ways, she exploded into the world as if she was the fizz in a suddenly opened bottle of pop!

This book also set up the next (and I think final) book in the series which is always a pleasure...I love it when they leave you longing for more!

So were there any negatives?

If you haven't read the previous books in this series, you will miss out on her full story and not make the connection with the other characters. I don't think this book could stand alone very well. The reader would feel like they were only given a partial script.

What is my rating for this book?
Talent for Trouble book review
I felt that of all the books, this book was the best! I enjoyed the character of Felicia and felt she was developed far greater than any of other ladies in the series.

Now I am eager to read the next book A Match of Wits due to come out July 1, 2014!

If you want to get started in this series, you can read the FREE short novella Gentleman of Her Dreams which sets the stage for the first installment of the series A Change of Fortune.


December 15, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal for December 15th

Click Here to Add Yours!
In my life this week…
I just want to be well. I lost 2 ½ days to a nasty headcold. When you are a mama, you just don’t have TIME to be sick. AND I couldn’t do any homeschooling because I had horrible sinus pressure one day, I had NO VOICE which cut our lessons short another day. Ugh. Did I mention that I haven’t been up to date with my normal chores too? Ugh. I HATE getting behind, don’t you?! Here is what I felt like this week:
You KNOW you've had weeks like this too! Bwahahahahah!

• In our homeschool this week…
Sadly we are going to have to play a bit of catch up. Which is crazy because I am homeschooling. I shouldn’t have to play it…but I feel like that is the downside of a boxed curriculum…it’s another reason that I am heading away from going with boxed curriculum next year. I need more wiggle room…………ANYWAYS! This week we will be finishing out our studies on President George Washington and the beginnings of our country and then we will move into following the pioneer trek across the country. We will also be moving into our second Singapore Math book (2A) which is pretty exciting.

• Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
If you get sick…don’t feel guilty when you can’t teach a day or two! Even public school teachers take sick days! But I tell you…I felt so guilty not teaching full days this past week!

• Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
This coming weekend we will be enjoying a family weekend visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati! The boys are so excited about the waterpark which is their most favorite thing.

• My favorite thing this week was…
Um, is it pathetic to say my fabulous hot steamy showers when I was feeling so horrible??? They felt so good, especially with my Eucalyptus oil in their for a beautiful steam vapor!

• My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
I have to say that it was probably NOT having much school this week! LOL! They also enjoyed working on some art projects with my mother-in-law who is their art teacher.

• Things I’m working on…
Ugh. Catching up with everything.

• I’m cooking…
I’m hoping to get some batches of cookies this week. I have a secret pal package for a friend going out this week and I want to put some cookies in a tin for her.

• I’m praying for…
Good health for my family! I hope and pray that we can make it through with ME being the ONLY one who gets sick! It’s easier when it’s you and not your kids.

I'm also praying for members of my husband's family. One of his older cousins passed away yesterday of heart failure. She had a newly installed stent in her heart that collapsed and damaged her heart triggering heart failure. And another one of his older cousins was a in a bad car accident while on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN. He rolled his car when he hit a patch of black ice. He's okay but suffering bad shoulder injuries...his wife was also in the car, but I don't know the extent of her injuries.

• A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

Here's to everyone having a most excellent week--one of good health, peace and blessings!


December 13, 2013 (a review)

I am excited to share with you this first review as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review team! Our first review is over the fabulous resource and website of which I was given a yearly membership option to try out for my family.
curriculum review is a one stop website for online learning. There are daily, weekly and monthly lessons available ALL THE TIME! Yes, you have access to them year round! More than 50 subjects are included on this website from sewing to music to the three 'Rs and MORE! Because this is put together by REAL teachers, you can take advantage of over 30 teachers in the international teacher base in regards to questions about classes and/or content! And there are new classes added and cycling through all the time! I'd like to think of it as a homeschooling online co-op!

Are you a lover of all things Charlotte Mason? There are classes and lessons for you! Not a fan of CM...perhaps more of the classical lesson structure? Not a problem! There are lessons for MANY different styles of homeschooling!

Did I mention free planners that come with your membership? Or Applecore, a safe and secure online record keeping site? And don't forget a free subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine! is a treasure trove of goodness for the homeschooling family! The yearly membership option is perfect for the frugal homeschool family, especially when you consider the vastness of homeschooling tools, curriculum and classes included for grade levels Pre-K through high school! That's covering one family for one fee of $139! If you aren't sure you are ready to tackle a year long subscription, there is a monthly subscription option available too! It's just $12.95 per month--and your first month is just $3! That's a great way to "try before you buy" if you want to see all this site has to offer before you make the yearly commitment.

There are so many aspects of this website that I could note and share in detail, but I'm going to share with you the items which appealed to me the most.

As I was exploring (which you MUST do to truly find all the gems hiding) I discovered a great page called "Dailies". There is SOOOOOOOO much to be found on this one page. Each item is clearly separated into subject sections. These items contain work to be done--yes, daily! There is something new for each day of the school week. Some of the subject terms have concluded, but you can always visit the dailies archives and snag anything that you have missed! These are actual LESSONS that you can work on with your children!

Here is a snapshot of what that page looks like:
Click for a closer look
Just look at all the subjects available! Bible, Astronomy, Art, English, History, Math...You can literally plan out an entire days worth of lessons using this page. Yes, a FULL day of subjects! How cool is that?

There was one of these subjects that caught my eye was Everyday Easel...

When I clicked on this I assumed correctly that it was going to be an art lesson...but I didn't realize how comprehensive the art lesson was going to be! Each of these art studies focuses on one piece of artwork by a well-known artist. Over the course of 10 days (two school weeks with 1 lesson a day) the artwork is analyzed through the FULL range of subjects. There are lessons designed for everything from Math to English to History to Economics...each revolving around the highlighted piece of artwork! Because the lessons are short, it would be easy to combine them and spread it out over just one school week.

I went through each of the printable lessons on the latest showcased artwork (Apple Butter Making by Grandma Moses) and picked out subject activities that I thought would interest Little Britches the most. I printed them off and introduced them 2-3 at a time.

We completed the lesson about the artist (did you know she started painting at the "young" age of 70??) and then looked at several of her paintings and (using the dialogue provided in the lesson) talked about her style.

We did the history/geography lesson and "followed the apple trail"...when they started talking about the American Colonies, Little Britches ears perked up as that is the very era we are studying in our history curriculum right now.

Together we completed the math assignment. This one was about a 3rd-5th grade level. I did the writing down and guiding towards the answers for him...but none were so hard he couldn't understand. Most of them he figured out on his own.

Our last activity was to do our own painting--using just a handful of colors and of something representing our kitchen...
He chose a table of food--with blueberries and an apple..and a dog.
After we finished our lesson, he walked over to a painting that my mother-in-law painted and after studying it for a bit declared that she painted in the same style as Grandma Moses...and he's right!
(the light is bad near where the painting is and I can't get a good shot of it to share with you)

Finally, we enjoyed EATING apples and our own homemade apple butter as a treat! The Everyday Easels program is great for carrying one theme along many subject areas.

The other area that I studied from was the section under the tab of "Family". In this tab you can find subjects and activities that are appropriate for the whole family to participate in. I clicked on the "Nature/Outdoors" category. Every month there is a new theme and every week there is a new lesson. There is a lesson for Cold Weather AND Warm Weather Climates.

Here is a snapshot from of this month's lesson introduction:
Click for a closer look
The week we did this lesson our weather was actually warm weather, so we headed outside to make the acquaintance of Lichens and Mosses. It actually started pouring down rain on us, but we kept going!
nature studies

Little Britches enjoyed seeking out the lichens and the moss and learning about where you can expect to find them. We used the lesson plan (printed out and in a plastic sleeve to keep it dry!) to help us identify whether we'd discovered a moss or a lichen. 

I look forward to seeing what the next week's lesson will be and continuing these Nature Studies because they were so simple and the boys enjoyed it very much.

So what do I think about the website

I absolutely see myself making use of this website in regards to supplemental material--but also in the form of unit studies as they fit. I haven't even begun to search the depths of what the website offers as I've not even explored the archives yet!
(Did I mention there are language lessons too???)

I absolutely think that if I wanted to provide my family with the largest range of curriculum for the least amount of cost, I would absolutely take advantage of this membership. How many other places can you have access to the depths of curriculum and classes here covering the full range of grade level and skill for just $139 a year? If I was a family with a limited homeschooling budget I absolutely see myself investing in this resource.

BUT...I do have a few cons...

One of the cons I see, is that several of the classes are "ended" so there won't be any new material. Because it's like a co-op, several classes are specialty ones which are limited to just a few months and are not repeated...HOWEVER, with the lessons going into the archives (which you can still access) it's not a total loss because you still can access most of them.

My other con is simply that all the information and resources and lesson plans are ONLY available online. To use this resource, I'm going to have to spend quite a bit of time going through everything and printing off anything I want to use. I don't always have time to do that.

So the big question...will I continue to use this resource in our homeschooling?

Yes. I absolutely plan on making use of this resource. I easily see areas that I can plug into what we are already doing and unit studies that fit right into our current curriculum. I plan on continuing the Everyday Easel and the Nature Studies as part of our "normal" week.

All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone in the homeschooling community, AND to those who are doing home education with their children "after hours".

If you are considering taking advantage of for your family, make sure you purchase your yearly membership during the month of December! Why? Because with your purchase of a yearly membership in the month of December 2013, you will free 1-year membership to to give to a friend!! Bless another homeschooling family as well as your own and get signed up ASAP!

Want more information? Then check out the other 50+ reviews from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew to see what else has to offer!
Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer


December 11, 2013

Curriculum Review: The Write From History Series

Last week on my Facebook page I hinted that I was going to be sharing a new curriculum review with you this week...and today is the day!

I was eager to be a part of the Write From History curriculum launch team and review this program for you. I love all things history, so I jumped on a chance to try out this new Charlotte Mason writing curriculum.

Students learn writing from models written by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Franklin, Hans Christian Andersen, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Shakespeare, and many others. With Write from History, students develop essential writing skills while absorbing the artistry and style of those they imitate." (taken from Brookdale House site)

Following the method designed by Charlotte Mason, students will read historical narratives, poetry selections from some of the brilliant poets of our time and cultural tales each chosen for their writing style and literary value. By reading these pieces, the student will get a grasp on proper grammar, sentence structure, and spelling as well as being introduced to literature from and about history.

Here is how the curriculum works...

There are four books in The Write from History Series: Write from Ancient History, Write from Medieval History, Write from Early Modern History and Write from Modern History. Each book in the series is divided into a Level 1 and  Level 2 ( except Write from Modern History which only has Level 2 at this time; Level 1 to come Summer 2014) and sells for $22.95 as either a print or e-Book copy.

Level 1 is geared to elementary students in grades 1-3 and is focused on basic writing and grammar skills with copywork models. Level 2 is directed towards elementary students in grades 3-5 with emphasis on higher level readings and paragraph writing models. There are two books in each Level: Cursive Model and Manuscript  Model. This allows you to choose a book based on the type of penmanship you prefer for your student as the only difference between them is the handwriting style. 

I chose to review a Write from Early Modern History Level 1 Manuscript Model. This book covers early Modern History from 1600 AD- 1850 AD from Pocahontas to Kit Carson. There are also exerts from Grimm's Fairy Tales, works by some of the great 18th and 19th century poets, and a few cultural tales.

A portion of the table of contents where each passage is listed along with it's place in the timeline of history
This book in the series was ideal for us as we are currently studying the late 1700's in our history right now. I enjoyed having all the information I needed about using this book laid out for me in the first few pages including on how to get started with a sample schedule and explanations on the different parts of the curriculum.
Here is the sample schedule for using this curriculum--SOOO helpful!
The introduction includes different ways to use the method Charlotte Mason promoted (using narration, copywork and dictation simultaneously) with the book. There is even a page of "reminders and helps."

Each passage begins with the narrative to read. This is followed by the first writing exercise the written summation. After the story is read, the student is asked to write their own summation of the story. Younger students can narrate their summary to the parent to write down for them. The second writing activity is copywork. A passage from the reading is to be copied with lines under each word to allow for easy copywork. The next writing exercise uses a second passage from the reading and this time the lines are placed after the passage itself. There is one final grouping of blank lines which can be used for the optional dictation exercise.

The reading passage, the line-by-line copywork and the second level copywork with dictation lines beneath. 
 An additional grammar activity that can be used can be found in the appendix of the book.
This is a great addition for older or more advanced students wishing to focus on the parts of speech within each of the models.

There is a monthly grammar guide in which to teach the student about the parts of speech...including having them color code the parts for identification.

By the 8th month you can see that the student will be able to identify all the primary parts of speech within the writing models. This can be done in place of dictation on the second writing copywork exercise.

Here is a sample of one of the weeks we added in the curriculum to our schedule.
Doing the first copywork exercise...

This shows both the second copywork exercise but also the grammar identification. I had him identify the parts of speech that we had already learned in our English work. Because we already do dictation as part of our regular English work, I opted for the grammar study in it's place.

So what do I think?

*I frankly love it. It is so easy to use! You do NOT have to start at the beginning of the series, nor do you have to start at the beginning of the book. I simply opened it up to the table of contents page and looked at the selection and their timeline--choosing the ones which fit our current studies the best. 

*They do NOT take up very much time. We finished each of the activities easily within about a 15 minute period a day. Because it was short, Little Britches never complained about having to do it. He especially enjoyed the reading and narration.

*I like having the grammar guide at the back of the book to assist me since I'm not extremely strong in that area. I can quickly flip to the back and remind myself what an adverb or preposition is!

*I enjoy not having to have a lesson plan and just using the suggested schedule included in the book.

BUT...there are a few things that I wish were different...
*I wish there was an answer key for the grammar identification. I am NOT strong in grammar and as I said above, I have to flip to the guide at the back to look of definitions...having an answer key would save a lot of time. Is it a deal breaker for using or purchasing more of this series? No! It's just an extra that would be great to have...and rumor has it, there will be one coming! (woot!)

*I wish the pages were perforated. From what I understand the book was originally GOING to be that way, but with a change of printing company and binding, it ended up in it's present form. It is hard for the student to write on the LEFT side pages because they do not lie down flat. I ended up photocopying each of those pages when they ended up being one we needed to use for copywork. This is also true of all the appendix pages at the back with the grammar guides and dictation models. It would be nice to be able to tear them out for reference.

HOWEVER--this book is ALSO available as an e-Book which would eliminate this problem since you could print out whatever you needed.

Now some questions I can answer for those who want to know more:
*Is this a stand alone writing curriculum?
I'm going to depends on what you are looking for! With my son's strong dislike of excessive writing, this is PERFECT for him. Though he is dictating to me his written summation, at a point in the future he can easily start writing the sentences himself. If your student enjoys writing and you are looking for something challenging, this might not be for you. This IS a Charlotte Mason inspired writing course so it's going to be more gentle in it's writing approach.

*Does it need any supplementation?
Again, I say that it depends on what you are looking for! If you want a more challenging grammar program then you can easily supplement that. If you want more than the Charlotte Mason version of spelling (to learn spelling through reading the words and then copying them and then writing through dictation), then need to find a spelling program. 

*Does this work for a history curriculum?
Not as a stand alone. I see this curriculum as a SUPPLEMENT to a history curriculum.

*Will this take you through high school?
No. This is geared towards elementary students in grade levels 1-5.

*Is this strictly copywork or are the students asked to produce original works?
All the writing in this curriculum revolve around the reading. There is a writing summation activity that is not copywork, but that still is just an "in your own words" writing of the reading. Everything else is copywork or dictation.

So the big question...will I continue to use this program in our homeschooling?
Absolutely! It is a good fit with what we are currently doing. I love that there is a second level for each of the books and that there is the option for cursive models. I can use the book as it fits and then set it aside when it doesn't. My reluctant writer enjoys it and it helps us review our grammar lessons. It adds additional stories/narratives to our history lessons and at times sends us off on rabbit trails or even ties in a rabbit trail we've already been on.

All in all, I highly recommend this curriculum and will be considering purchasing copies of the other books in the series to use as well.