August 17, 2017

How We Take the School Outside The Home {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

Taking School Outside The Home {Back to School Blog Hop}
There is a myth among some in society that to homeschool means that you school at home. We keep inside our four walls, never to leave. We only stay among ourselves. No interaction with the world. No SOCIALIZATION beyond each other. THIS IS A LIE! Today, I want to talk about how our family, and many other families take school OUTSIDE of the home on a regular basis. By the end of this post, I hope you will see how ridiculous the idea of homeschoolers only interacting with each other truly is and how "socialized" homeschool children really can be. But also to encourage you as a homeschool parent (if you are one) to take advantage of our freedom to take school OUTSIDE the home!

When you were a child, did you only learn about how to do things and function in society and the world by going to school? Was that the only place that learning occurred for you? Did you learn how to cook there? What about how to drive? Finances? How to interact with others? What about taxes? Sports? Music? How to change a tire? What a bird sounds like? How to grow food? What a fort looked like? Did you only learn about the beach by reading or being taught about the beach? What about marine life? Animals on the African savanna? Was your learning confined to the four walls of a classroom?

Please tell me you said, "NO!"

August 16, 2017

Homeschool Planning and Record Keeping w/Free Printables {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

One of the biggest questions that homeschool parents have for each other is “What curriculum works best for (insert age)?” The next question most common is “How do you plan out your year?” Followed by “what do you do for grades?” I have chatted all about picking curriculum in a previous post you can read here (Homeschool Curriculum Planning) and here (5 Mistakes I've Made With Curriculum), so let’s talk a little bit about planning curriculum lessons, and then recording WHAT we do—i.e. record keeping.

Lesson Planning

When it comes to lesson planning there are sooo many different styles and methods you can use. You really just need to find a way that fits you best. Ask yourself a few questions:

●Do I prefer paper/pencil style of planning or would I rather have it all digital?
●Do I want to see a year at a glance? Monthly assignments? Weekly?
●Do I want to be able to plan in detail all in one place, or just have a general idea of what is to be done?
●Do I want to see all my children’s lesson plans at one time?

Once you know the answers to these questions, it is a LOT easier to know what you are actually looking for in a lesson planner. Many curriculums provide you with suggested lesson plans. These are very helpful when determining how the curriculum will look spread over your year. You can simply then copy into your own planner what THEY suggest is done. Maybe tweaking it as needed. If you are a digital planner, you will have to set aside time to sit and enter in all the information into a program. It can be tedious, but having an email pop up with everything your children need to do for the day, may be just your style! Or clicking one button to shift everything around instead of having to erase.

Once you have decided HOW you want to do it, just start looking at different planners! There are MANY free downloadable ones available. Pinterest is full of links to them. Maybe you have a spiral binding machine, or a print shop that can put it all together for you? This might be the way to go to truly customize WHAT you want in a printed binder. Another option may be to look at pre-designed, printed, and bound homeschool planners. Places like Apologia and Mardel are two companies which publish best selling planners—they include a lot of sample pages for you to look at. I have reviewed the Apologia planner before—and I actually BOUGHT the Mardel "A Simple Plan" for me to use this year.

If you want to get an idea of some planners I myself have used before, here is a video I did dedicated TO talking about different planner ideas. I cover two digital ones, three paper ones, and two children planners.

I wrote another blog post about planning out your homeschool routine that you can read from last year which I think may be helpful too!


Now—states are different in regards to the homeschooling rules for how much recordkeeping needs to be done. You may live in a state with NO rules for homeschooling so you can basically just do whatever you want—keeping in mind the long term goal of transcripts for high school that will be transferable to college. I live in the next level of states—the ones with minimal rules. I have to do progress reports which follow the local school districts time frames, and a final report card—as well as attendance. The next two levels of homeschooling states increase the amount of record keeping required—so it’s very important you know WHAT is required for your state. I urge you to join HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) to stay on top of that.

So let’s get back to what my rules are for my state (Kentucky)—I need attendance, progress reports, and a report card. There are so many different ways to make progress reports! The local ones for the public schools usually include letter grading for grades 3+. The early elementary is still pretty much the pass/fail, excellent/satisfactory/needs work style. So what do I do? I use the grammar school style of excellent/satisfactory style. Why? Because this way I can do a clear assessment of progress throughout a year towards mastery. I like to see how work has improved as the year continues.

When it comes to end of the year reports, there are some subjects which DO have grades. But these are few, not the norm. And it is usually because of whatever type of curriculum I am using.

So how do I calculate the progress? Before I “grade” them, I make a clear list of my goals and expectations for the subject/curriculum. I include things like comprehension, neatness, completion of work, etc. This allows me to give realistic progress reports.

But what about Kindergarten? It’s so basic—how do you do a progress report?

I did a progression of things like:
*Writing their name
*Writing a sentence I dictated (The black cat sat by the dog.)
*Identifying colors/numbers/sight words/shapes
*Does he know his phone number or address?

With our progress reports those years, I did the SAME questions so that I could have visible documentation of their progress in these areas. Then I just made notes of the strengths and weaknesses’ they displayed. This is why you can easily just type out a progress report. Maybe even a page per topic/subject. Or just paragraphs for each one.

If want something a bit more “official” looking I have designed three different progress report pages for you. Feel free to print these out and use them as desired! One has the standard subjects already added; one has the subject area blank. The other allows for a more documented progress with room for paragraph writing.

Another big thing for record keeping is the attendance. Some planners have attendance sheets, while others do not. So, if you need a quick and easy sheet you can add wherever, I've got you covered!

I hope that these simple sheets will help you get started with your recordkeeping. One of the bonuses of having an account with is that it comes with a FREE subscription to AppleCore Recordkeeping. I use Applecore for creating my final report cards because I can quickly enter the subjects and have it spit out the "official" record. I can also enter my attendance into it for a quick calculation of my total days. If you get the PREMIUM subscription to Schoolhouseteachers, you also get the GOLD AppleCore subscription which even allows you to make transcripts! here is a video to learn more about AppleCore...

Remember, there is no extra cost for AppleCore Recordkeeping IF you have the inexpensive subscription to the super fabulous curriculum for K-12 website! There are also FREE printable planners available as a membership bonus!

Finally--when your year is over, and you are going through everything that your children created, be merciless! LOL! If you don't NEED to save all of their work--DON'T! It's not like taxes! Every year, I pick the best demonstration of how they have improved through the year--maybe an exemplary report, or paragraph they wrote. A few tests. A completed workbook. But here is the catch--if it doesn't fit in a manila envelope, it doesn't get saved! Each boy gets ONE manila envelope for me to keep their best work in. When I have it all together, I finish by sliding in their progress reports and report card. Then I label the front with the name and school year. Now it's EASY to store! I can put them in a file folder container and keep it in our loft.

Well I hope you have gotten an idea about how you can stay on top of planning and recordkeeping from our chat. I hope that at least one of the printables I have created will benefit you in some way!

There are 35 other bloggers doing the blog hop this week, so make sure you pop over to the Homeschool Review Crew to visit some other blogs this week! Join me tomorrow when I share ways that we take Homeschool OUTSIDE the Home for Day 4 of the 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop for 2017! Have a simply marvelous evening!

August 15, 2017

My Top 10 School Supplies w/Free Checklist {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

Top 10 School Supplies for Back to School w/Free Checklist
It's that time of year--the time when the stores send out one of the strongest lures ever--school supplies ads! One of my most favorite things to shop for is definitely school supplies. At a homeschool level, we just don't need as many as other students do, but there are still some must-haves that we find ourselves getting more of each year. Today, I'm going to touch on my Top 10 School Supplies for any homeschool--will your choices be on my list?

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!

When it comes to school supplies, there are some big must haves and some small must haves. Some of my must haves aren't even physical! But these still count as my Top 10 School Supplies for any homeschool classroom.

#1 Internet and Printer
Things have changed since our parents were in the homeschooling world (if they were). Today's homeschooling world includes a LOT of digital resources previously unavailable. There are digital copies of textbooks, online classes, printable curriculum, online educational games...the list goes on and on. I would have a MUCH harder time homeschooling if I did not have access to the internet and a good printer. We even upgraded our printer so it had a higher output AND did double sided printing. We are fortunate that even though we live in rural Kentucky, we still have a great high-speed internet!

#2 Books Books Books
Right on the heels of having internet, is having access to a WIDE selection of books. Homeschooling requires a lot of resource materials, and not being tied to the internet is nice. This is why I highly recommend that you collect some quality non-fiction materials for your personal reference library. I took advantage of a Usborne Book sale and stocked up on their fantastic encyclopedias. They are full color and internet-linked. Perfect for any homeschool classroom. I have one for history, science, geography, animals, and even math! We also collected all sorts of field guides for nature exploration. You can't go wrong with the National Audubon Society ones for your area. Don't forget some poetry and short story collections! I also have several young adult biographies. One of the main reasons I don't have a huge personal library is that I live just 5
minutes from an AMAZING library. It was recently redone, and with their renovation came a new "no fines" rule. Talk about making the homeschoolers happy! LOL. They also happily order any books that I can't find, and pull books on topics if I ask for them in advance. With the wide selection of young adult, children, and non-fiction available, there is rarely a book I need that they don't have. 

#3 Laminator
I cannot tell you how much I have used a laminator since we started homeschooling 6 years ago...but it is A LOT. Because so many things are printed out these days, I do like to protect them. Being able to laminate them is one way I can do that. You don't need anything fancy--just a simple one with a box of laminating sheets. You can make custom posters, flashcards, much! You can also turn pages into "dry erase" by laminating them. I wrote a whole post a couple years ago about how much I love my laminator. It really doesn't matter which one you have--you will enjoy having it available for you!

#4 Notebooks
Spiral notebooks and composition notebooks. I cannot have enough of these each year. I actually have shifted over to the composition notebooks, simply because there isn't a wire to get caught on anything nor can they unwind it! They are super cheap too--during the height of sales, you can get them for just 25 cents each! I rarely pay more than 50 cents each for them. We keep college ruled and wide ruled. Another style I also get is the primary version. This comes with primary lines and blank spots for illustrations. We use these for literature and science. I think each boy usually uses 3 per year. 

#5 Post-Its
What? Post Its are a must have? Yes, yes they are. I ESPECIALLY use the little ones because they fit in my planner day spaces. I also use them as bookmarks, and for extra notations on something the boys need to work on. I buy the COSTCO size packages. LOL. They really are a must have here though. 

#6 Index Cards
We use these for spelling words, vocabulary, bible verses, and anything else that might call for them. I also have laminated some and added magnets to them. Now they can be used over and over, and will stick to our cabinets or magnetic white board. I prefer the neon colors. :)

#7 Art Supplies
Now if you are only doing middle school/high school, this one might not be anywhere on your must have list. But with elementary ages, it really is. Even if I myself am not artsy, a LOT of our curriculum includes art projects. Already having the paper and paint and other supplies on hand saves me a LOT of time. 

#8 Coffee/Tea/Chocolate
Another major school supply is whatever YOU need to keep yourself going. For some it's a big mug of coffee in the morning. Others it's tea. Or chai. WHATEVER gets you going in the morning or gets you over the 2pm slump--IS A NECESSITY. So make sure you have plenty of it. 

#9 Flexibility
Remember when I said some things aren't tangible? This is one. I find that flexibility is totally a must have school supply for my classroom. I would be so overwhelmed (or at least MORE overwhelmed) if I didn't maintain a level of flexibility for what our routine looks like. This allows me to "go with the flow" on any given day. I included this in one of my Homeschooling Essential posts a few years back.

#10 God and His Word
For our family, it is IMPERATIVE that we incorporate God into every single school day. AND that He is a priority. We do not move forward in our day unless we pray and have Bible study. The few days that we have forgotten to do it...well those days were a bit pile of rottenness and attitudes. You will see on my curriculum post from yesterday that we do several things daily for bible. What isn't included on that list is that I pick curriculum that is Christian based, so God is woven throughout our day--whether it's history, science, or literature! I would not be able to fulfill my calling as a homeschooling parent unless I had God to help me. Even on the worst days, I know that "He's got my back." And it's no wonder that one of our classroom mottos is "With God All Things Are Possible!" (Matthew 19:26).

So there you have it. My Top 10 School Supplies for the homeschool classroom. What do you think? Do you agree? Are any of these must-haves on YOUR list? Share with me in the comments what you consider a must have school supply!

BEFORE YOU GO--I have created a super simple School Supplies Checklist that you can print off and take with you when you head in to buy supplies! I even left extra spaces for the things you need above and beyond the normal! Grab your FREE School Supplies Checklist!

Join me tomorrow as we explore Planning and Record Keeping for Day 3 of the 5 Days of Back to School Blog hop with the Homeschool Review Crew! Please make sure you visit some of the other bloggers participating this week. There are some AWESOME resources being shared--and I'm pretty sure there are even some freebies! Here are some blogs to get you started!

August 14, 2017

2nd and 6th Grade Curriculum Choices for 2017-2018 School Year (5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop)

Curriculum Choices for 2nd and 6th Grade
Welcome to the first day of our 2017 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop! Today's topic is all about CURRICULUM! I can hardly believe I am saying this, but this year I will have a second grader and a...gulp...MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT! How did that happen? Sigh. These boys of mine. Just won't slow down! As I share our choices this year, I will make notes about why I picked each selection to briefly give you a clue as to why it works for us--or maybe why we are going to see if it will work. The main thing about my curriculum choices is that I reserve the right to THROW THEM OUT if at any time they no longer work for us. Don't forget that when you are making your OWN choices. These are a plan, but if the plan doesn't work, throw it out and try something else!

August 13, 2017

Introducing the 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop!

I am so excited to announce that this week is going to be another fabulous blog hop series! Every day this week, members of the Homeschool Review Crew are all going to blogging on a common theme--allowing you a PLETHORA of resources to check out! And this year, our theme is one which EVERY homeschooling family can relate to--Back to School! Wait a minute...back to school? But we are homeschoolers! Yes we are, but just like any other family, we still start new school years and this blog hop we are going to talk about things relevant to gearing back up to start a new year of school!

Day 1: Curriculum for the 2017-2018 year
I have (finally) decided on what curriculum we will be using for 2nd and 6th grade this year. I will kick off the blog hop sharing what our year is going to include!

Day 2: School Supplies
Just like any classroom, homeschoolers do need some school supplies for their year. I will be sharing some of my must-have items for my own classroom. Will any of yours be on the list?

Day 3: Planning/Record Keeping
I have tried MANY different methods over the last 6 years. I will share my favorites (print and digital) as well as a video I recently made giving you a closeup look at what I will be using this year. I also will have some printables that you can snag to assist in your own record keeping.

Day 4: Outside the Home
This one threw me for a second...then I decided that I would share some ways that we take homeschooling OUTSIDE the box.

Day 5: Dear Homeschool Mom
I am going to end the week with a heart to heart from one homeschooling parent to another. Call it a pep talk for you and me about the upcoming year and our history with homeschooling so far.

So there you have it! The 5 Days of Back to School blog hop as it will look like on my blog. I hope you will visit many of the other bloggers over the week--I will try to share some of my favorites or ones that I think you might be interested in as the week goes on. These blog hops are always a highlight for me. I get just as much enjoyment out of reading my fellow bloggers blogs as I hope you do mine!

August 11, 2017

A Place To Belong {Five Minute Friday}

A Place to Belong {Five Minute Friday}It is interesting to me that the scripture that I wrote down today ended up including the word for this week's Five Minute Friday. Coincidence? Maybe. But I call it inspiration. The word for this week is PLACE. When I think of place, I often think of the phrase, A Place to Belong. There are SOOO many people who eagerly long for a place to belong. Many are in situations in this life

August 9, 2017

Alone with God Bible Study for Kids {Product Review}

I recently discovered that my oldest son (age 11) declared that he knew the Old Testament much better than the New Testament. This came about while playing a game of Bible Trivia. After thinking about it, I realized that most of our Bible curriculum has had an Old Testament focus. He does know about the life of Christ very well, but when it comes to the Apostles and the events surrounding the start of the church, he wasn't strong. I had been thinking about how to go about doing a study into the life of the Apostles, but didn't have a plan. Enter I Can Study Acts Alone With God Bible Study (52 week study) from Greek 'n' Stuff, a product that came up for review several weeks ago. After discovering that this was a bible study program for late elementary geared to studying the book of Acts in detail, I hoped it would be exactly what I needed to strengthen my son's knowledge in the area he was lacking.

About Alone with God Bible Study

Greek 'n' Stuff offers a series of independent bible study resources for children called the Alone with God Bible Study series. In each of these books, a workbook helps your child read a book in the Bible over a set length of weeks. The workbook consists of 6 lessons each week. Every lesson

August 4, 2017

Try Me Now In This {Five Minute Friday}

The word this week for Five Minute Friday is TRY. When you think of the word TRY, one of the most famous quotes to pop in my head is from Star Wars. You probably are familiar with it too. The Jedi Master Yoda tells young Luke Skywalker "Do or do not, there is no try." It's a great motivational quote to remind us that every action we take we are either doing or not doing something. Also that we must remember to say "I will" instead of "I'll try." But you know, that is just one quote that comes to mind with the word TRY. There are several scriptures in the Bible with the word TRY in them. One of my favorites though comes from a lesser known book Malachi. 

August 3, 2017

Live the Adventure In The Reign of Terror {Product Review}

In the Reign of Terror-Heirloom Audio Productions {A review}
We have a thing for audiodramas that was started with the very first Heirloom Audio Productions product we ever received. Since then we have made it our goal to own as many of the Heirloom audiodramas as we can! We have quite a collection, but were eager to add In the Reign of Terror to our collection as part of our review this month!

About In The Reign of Terror

In the Reign of Terror is another fabulous audiodrama from Heirloom Audio Productions, based on the Extraordinary Adventures of GA Henty books.This story is set during the beginning stirrings of the French Revolution and takes place in France. You follow a young Englishman of about fifteen years old named Harry Sandwith as he journeys to France to work as companion/tutor for the Marquis de St Caux family. While he is there, he witnesses the terror that overtakes the country as the nobles are systematically rousted out and killed--just because of their noble birth. He vows to protect the St Caux children as they flee to safety. What follows next is a journey of courage, sadness, grief, bravery, miracles, and so much more. Throughout the experience, the family places their ultimate trust in God no matter what--and seek to find good that can come out of the bad.

In the Reign of Terror is available as a 2 disc CD set or a digital download. Also available with the audio drama is a digital (or downloadable) Study Guide which coordinates section by section with the story. You will be able to ask your children questions about what they heard, as well as guide them to explore the topic in more depth with some critical thinking questions.

You also should check out the BRAND NEW Live the Adventure Club! Membership to this new club not ONLY allows you to get new PHYSICAL copies of the Live the Adventure audiodramas shipped to your house three times a year, but you also have full access to their complete website! There are teaching guides and curriculum treasures, parent resources and daily information, and listen & Learn audio adventures that even come with the script for your child to follow along! Sign up for your free three month club trial today and receive their newest Audio Adventure, Captain Bayley’s Heir (2-CD set) for only $1.00! Plus, you also get instant access to the digital version!

What do you get for In the Reign of Terror in the Live the Adventures Club?
★Stream In the Reign of TERROR
★In The Reign Of Terror Original E-Book
★Official Soundtrack
★Printable Cast Poster
★Study Guide & Discussion Starter
★Inspirational Verse Poster
★Desktop Wallpaper Download
★Official Script Download

Definitely go check it out!

Our Thoughts on In The Reign of Terror

The #1 thing I liked the best about this audio drama this time, was that I had the study guide right there on my phone with the mp3 when it played. As soon as the section was done I could immediately go over the study guide, without having to have a second document or screen up. This is MAJOR plus in my book! So handy for listening to it on the go--I can simply hook up my phone to my car that has bluetooth capabilities! If I don't care about the study guide, I just use the physical CD's so they keep playing without me having to stop them.

This is the time of history that I am very fascinated with, so I greatly enjoyed learning more about the era. The French Revolution was such an incredibly bloody time period and I think we do not spend enough time studying it to realize what a reign of terror it truly was. We listened to this with friends while driving, and she and I both commented about how it made us want to go and rewatch Les Miserables again--and we both agreed that this audiodrama would be an asset when studying the French Revolution during history in our homeschool.

The boys favorite part was definitely the wolf attack! There was silence in the car when we got to this part of the story. After it was over, my oldest remarked that it reminded him of the gladiator/lion scene in one of the other audiodramas from Heirloom Audio.

One of the questions I would have is regarding the religion of the characters. I could never figure out if they practiced Catholicism (what would be most likely for France) or Christianity. It wasn't anything major, just a minor question that niggled me. I did appreciate the references to the American War for Independence because it can be hard to remember at times that it was recent history to the men and women of the time.

I would say this is just as excellent as the previous audiodramas we have listened to. I always enjoy having a spin-off discussion about this time period. We haven't really covered world history yet, but I know that I will be referencing In The Reign of Terror whenever we study the French Revolution for sure.

Want to Know More About In the Reign of Terror?

Over the last couple weeks, we have been enjoying listening to the latest Heirloom Audio Productions audiodrama In the Reign Of Terror. Please visit some of the other crew members to see what they thought about this latest release!
In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
As so many times before, we have fallen in love with this story set in such a brutal time of history. We are eager to get our hands on the next release from Heirloom Audio Productions...Captain Bailey's Heir!

July 31, 2017

English On A Roll~ A Hands-On Grammar Program! {Curriculum Review}

English on a Roll {Product Review}
When it comes to curriculum, our family greatly prefers the hands on kind. Especially my youngest. He has always loved to "put" at we call it. He would sit forever doing repetitive puzzles or manipulatives that had him putting things in cups. Or on pegs. Or in holes. He LOVES learning with his hands. Sometimes it is very hard to find curriculum that works for this style of learning. Especially when it comes to Language Arts. Needless to say when a new (to me) company English on a Roll was available to review, I jumped on the chance to try the English Grammar Teaching Method! Hands-on Grammar? Yes please!

July 30, 2017

Inspired Word of God {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday has the word: Inspire as our theme this week. When I think of inspiration I think of God's Word. Nothing can inspire me more than when I find a beloved passage from the Bible. The words fill my heart with so much love and encouragement. Words for any situation. It doesn't matter if you are brokenhearted, devastated, mourning, feeling lost, feeling joyful, feeling thankful, feeling despair. There is a verse that will surely comfort and inspire you. One of my favorite passages of inspiration can be found in Micah 6:8. It's a passage that I fall back on when I need a "reboot" about what is important in this life when things seem to be getting out of hand. 
Five Minute Friday~ Inspired Word of God
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8

The next time life starts getting out of hand and you wonder what you need to do next, remember this passage. Do justly. Love mercy. And walk humbly before God. Think of what kind of world we would live in if everyone chose to follow these three rules of thumb? Talk about a major world reboot!

Have a beautiful rest of your weekend!

July 26, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter {Book Review}

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter ~ A 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!

As many of you know by now I am not a huge fan of contemporary fiction, but there are a few authors that I will make an exception for. One of those authors is Denise Hunter. I have read most of what she has written for the Christian Fiction genre and just have fallen in love with her characters. When her latest book Sweetbriar Cottage was recently released, I added it to my list of "must reads" and was thankful to be able to review it for The Fiction Guild. I hoped that it would be at the same level as all the other books that I have loved so well by the author. 

About Sweetbriar Cottage

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter takes us to the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. It is here we meet Noah and Josephine Mitchell. Noah and Josephine were married after a whirlwind romance, but their marriage fell apart soon after they

July 25, 2017

U.S.A Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom {Product Review}

USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom {Product Review}
I am always on the lookout for easy to use resources that will supplement what we are already learning in our classroom. Geography is one of the subjects that is the easiest to coordinate with something you are already learning. Especially when studying world or American history. I recently had the chance to review the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom and I knew from my first glance at it that it would probably be just the type of resource I enjoy the most. 

About The Crafty Classroom

The Crafty Classroom provides digital resources to help you as a parent/teacher save time in your schooling. Whether looking for supplemental resources, crafts, or curriculum, The Crafty Classroom has designed products to save you time and money! 

July 24, 2017

Make Paper Mache and Sculpting Projects Easier with ACTIVA Products! {Product Review}

ACTIVA PRODUCTS Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Kit {Product Review}
We recently were given Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit and ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS from ACTÍVA Products to review. It seems in homeschool there is always the need for a plaster or paper mache product sometime or another, but prepping all the supplies can take time, and be expensive. ACTÍVA Products is the answer for that and something that is not only easy to store, but easy to use!

About ACTÍVA Products

ACTÍVA Products are a special crafting supplier in the vast arts and crafts world. ACTIVA Products include Clay, Colored Sand, Paper Mache, Sculpting Materials, and More! What also makes them special, is all ACTÍVA

July 21, 2017

What Do You Collect? {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday~ What Will You COLLECT?
It's been awhile, but I am back with Five Minute Friday, the post where I set the timer and ramble on inspired by a picked word for about 5 minutes. Today's word is Collect...

And Go


Most of us collect something. 
What do you collect? 
I collect pens.
That's my primary collection I would say. Because I have about 5 million of them. 
Okay. Not true. Maybe more like just 1 million.

July 19, 2017

Taking to the Skies with Doctor Aviation {Curriculum Review}

We recently completed an in depth unit study on the Wright Brothers, which led to my oldest son becoming fascinated with all things aviation. Immediately after we concluded that unit study, we were told that there was a six month aviation course from Doctor Aviation that was potentially up for review for us. Even though we were below the recommended age for using the program, after one sample lesson my eleven year old was begging me to be able to do it. This led me to "beg" on his behalf for the chance to review this product as a family, and I am happy to say that we were granted his wish. The question now became--how would a course geared towards a high school student or adult work for our family? I am happy to say that it passed with "flying" colors!

About Doctor Aviation

Doctor Aviation is an website dedicated to providing instruction to those with an interest in aviation. The instructor Daryl Smith, aka Doctor Aviation, was in the Air Force for 24 years, where he "traversed the sky" as Command Pilot in a whole host of aircraft putting in over 2,000 flying hours. Many of these were accumulated while he was an instructor pilot and research pilot. He has also served as instructor at the United States Air Force Academy teaching aviation as well as other courses. He also has authored an aviation book published by McGraw Hill. He's a current college professor who wanted to make an aviation course that could be accessible to life-long learners across the globe--and so the Doctor Aviation website and aviation course was created! 

The course is geared to anyone with a desire to learn more about aviation, whether looking to it as a

July 18, 2017

Mapelle Films Presents "Trust Fund" {a review}

We were recently given the movie Trust Fund from Mapelle Films to review with my family. Trust Fund is a contemporary retelling of the biblical parable The Prodigal Son and has a coordinating book Love Was Near that can be read after viewing the movie. I started watching the movie on my own, but my sons joined me for the second half of the movie.

About Trust Fund and Mapelle Films

Trust Fund is about the Donahue family, a well known name in the publishing business. The family consists of the father (played by Kevin Kilner) and two daughters, Audrey (played by Louise Dylan) and Reese (played by Jessica Rothe, recently seen in La La Land). Audrey works with her father at the family business, but Reese is a dreamer and aspiring young writer. She feels confined by the pressure to join the family business when she just wants to spread her wings and experience life and love.

One day she learns that her father has been keeping a big secret from her, and it changes her life forever, as she betrays her family and runs away to chase after love. After things get out of control on her own, Reese returns full of nothing but regrets--and discovers her father is there waiting with open arms, teaching her what love really means.

Trust Fund is rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief smoking.

July 15, 2017

Photobucket is being annoying...bear with me

Just wanted to pop in here to say that due to some recent changes to a Photobucket policy (where some of my graphics come from) some of my images on my blog and blog posts are going to be wonky. So bear with me as I make the transition and change them over to their new hosting site! It's going to take awhile...but I will try to clean it up as quickly as I can!

Thank you!


July 12, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston {Book Review}

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston- Book Review
There are three things that my regular readers should know about me by now--#1 I am not a big fan of Amish fiction, #2 I prefer historical fiction, and #3 I strongly dislike reading series books out of order. Now imagine my thoughts when I received my latest book The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston from the Fiction Guild to review, and discovered that it was book #4 in a contemporary Amish fiction series. Could this book still win me over, even though it started with three strikes against it? Let's just say I have now added Amy Clipston to my list of MUST READ authors. Read on to learn how this book beat my odds!

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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About The Beloved Hope Chest

The Beloved Hope Chest is the fourth book in the An Amish Heirloom Novel series by Amy Clipston. The conclusion to the series finally shares the story of the mother of the three

July 11, 2017

Make-A-State Activity Pak- 1 Resource for All 50 States! {Product Review}

Make-A-State Activity from Home School in the Woods {Product Review}
Now that we are on summer break, we aren't doing our full curriculum at all. I do still however, enjoy doing a few things over the summer to keep the brain working strong in my boys. One of the ways that I do this, is with simple projects like worksheets, science projects, nature exploration, and easy geography projects. I was recently given the Make-a-State Activity by Home School in the Woods to explore with my boys, and this product has fit the bill for what I had in mind over the summer. 

About Make-a-State Activity and Home School In the Woods

Make-a-State Activity is just one of the many products in the Activity-Paks series from Home School in the Woods. Other products in the series include: The Old Testament, The New Testament, Artists, and Composers. Each of the Activity-Paks includes projects on the topic that together create an entire lapbook. Providing a hands-on experience for gaining and demonstrating knowledge on a subject. Home School in the Woods

July 4, 2017

Independence Day 2017~ A Christian Reflection on the Declaration of Independence

It is hard to believe that we are already at the 4th of July celebrations for 2017. Time just speeds along so quickly. Even though it was 241 years ago, I'm sure that our forefathers of 1776 felt the same way. Time was hurrying them to major events. Their colonies were in the midst of the first "Brexit" and in the heat of war. They were trying to determine what was going to happen next. And so a red headed young man named Thomas Jefferson, with much guidance from men like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, drafted up their official Declaration of Independence from their former governing body to explain why they believed in what they were doing.

Have you ever read the ENTIRE Declaration of Independence? Not just the part we are familiar with--but the whole thing? I encourage you to do so. It is only when you read the declaration in entirety that you realize WHAT they were saying. What they were truly declaring their independence from and their dependence on. One of the most useful activities I had to do in a literature class in college, was to read the entire text and then write in "language for the common

June 29, 2017

An Injury Update for You

So early last week, I shared that my world got shaken up a bit when I was chewed on (as my son's like to put it) by my in-laws dog. I just wanted to go ahead and give you an update, as I am sure a couple of you are probably wondering by now how I am doing.
Well the good news is that it only took a few days before all of my pain to disappear. I never had to take anything for pain beyond the first 36 hours which is wonderful. I initially experienced some infection in the puncture wound on my left hand which caused the doctor some concern, but she switched my antibiotics and approved some Epsom salt soaks. Between the Epsom salt soaks which are like the total bomb for any swelling, and the clay I coated all over the infected hand, my swelling

Lightning Lit 2 ~ A Second Grade Language Arts Curriculum {Curriculum Review}

Lightning Literature Grade 2 {Curriculum Review}
I love language arts courses with an emphasis on children's literature. One of the companies that puts an emphasis on quality literature even in their early elementary curriculum is Hewitt Homeschooling. I was fortunate to have been a part of their beta team when they were producing their Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set course with my oldest son. We loved the way the course was put together as it included all aspects of Language Arts and loved the books--several of them new to us. When I discovered I had the chance to review the Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set course with my youngest son, I was very happy to be able to experience the curriculum again and hoped it would be at the same quality as the previous course we had done.

Who is Hewitt Homeschooling?

Hewitt Homeschooling is a company based out of Washougal, WA (It's my hometown!!!), serving clients for over 30 years as they strive to provide products that promotes excellent academics and character development while instilling work ethic and community service. Since 1983 they have shifted their focus towards education--seeing the growing need to provide quality material for the homeschooling sector. 

Their products serve parents with children ranging from kindergarten age through high school. Hewitt Homeschooling has products ranging from paper evaluations to curriculum for elementary, junior high, and high school.

June 21, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Memory of You by Catherine West {Book Review}

The Memory of You by Catherine West ~ Book 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!

I was first introduced to author Catherine West when I reviewed her novel The Things We Knew last year. Because it was not my preferred genre of Christian fiction, I was reluctant to read it. I discovered however, a new-to-me author to the contemporary Christian fiction world who wasn't afraid to dive into deeper topics so relevant in today's world--her characters had baggage that far too many can relate to. Things that some authors choose not to incorporate in their stories in the Christian fiction genre--parents with dementia, divorce/separated characters, anxiety, and abuse to name a few. The book ended up being one of my top reads for the year--something that surprised me. I was recently sent her next novel The Memory of You to review for The Fiction Guild, and this time I was eager to see if she would continue in the style she wrote previously.

About The Memory of You

The Memory of You by Catherine West is a contemporary story set in the famous Sonoma Valley, CA, at a family owned winery. Natalie Mitchell is a top executive at her father's firm in NYC, but feels

June 20, 2017

Riding Through History with Rush Revere {A Review}

One of the books that first sent my oldest into his passion for history was from the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series . Since then he has actively sought out every remaining book in the series. When we had the chance to review the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, he asked me if he could read all of them again. I couldn't refuse and so we got the entire series at our disposal this time!
Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {A review}

About Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series

The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series allows your children to "time travel" back in time to meet the movers and shakers that founded our country. Beginning with journeying on a ship with the Pilgrims as they came to the New World, the book series continues through early American history to

June 18, 2017

We interrupt this program to bring you the following announcement...

I am going to be not blogging as much for a little while, besides some required pieces. You see i need to let my hands heal. Unfortunately, I was bitten by a dog on both hands last night and spent several hours in the ER. I left with 5 stitches and admonitions to take it easy. Because typing is painful for me, I am going to have to limit it to the bare minimum until the pain goes away. 
me realizing i have to have stitches....
I ask for prayers as I go through this more annoying than anything trial. I am so thankful that no tendons experienced any damage, but the pain is simply horrid without my pain medicine--I know because i really feel it the last 20 minutes. 

I will still be sharing my reviews this week--but i don't know that I will do much more than that--depends on how well my hands heal up and the pain is managed. At least the main damage is to my left hand--not my dominate hand. But the puncture in the right hand was deep and is continuously sore. 

Thanks again for any and all prayers! I hope I will be able to have updates as the week continues and I visit my primary care doctor. I hope your Father's Day was lovely!

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