Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Sonrise Stable Books - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE COPY of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My daughters are polar opposites. They are only about a year and a half apart in age, so you would think that they would have fairly similar interests, right? Nope, not really. While there are some things that they both agree on and enjoy, for the most part, their tastes are miles apart. This extends to each of their approaches to their schoolwork. My oldest could sleep until 10 every morning if I let her, and wouldn't mind not finishing her studies until 4. My youngest, on the other hand, is an early riser who prefers to get her work completed by 1. The differences extend to pretty much every subject. Take history, for example. My oldest approaches the majority of history curriculum with disdain, while my youngest has great enthusiasm for the past. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement with my situation, stay tuned, because Sonrise Stable Books may be the history resource that you've been waiting for, that will engage even the most turned off students. They provided our family with a copy of History on Horseback: The Early Years to read and review. 

Horses allowed preachers to bring the Gospel all over America.

History on Horseback: The Early Years focuses on the arrival of horses, and their contribution to American history from 1493 to 1866. It is written for those that are 12 years and up. This is a softcover book with 53 chapters, as well as a bonus preview from Volume 2. The chapters are fairly short, with some containing as few as 2 pages. This makes it an easy read. The stories included are factual, historical accounts. It is not meant to be a stand alone history curriculum, but an extra resource. A study guide is in the works, that will then make it possible to make this a complete course. You could also put together your own materials as well to make this its own subject. 

A sidebar is included in every chapter, noting the main points.

This book is written with such an interesting perspective, and adds a great level of richness for history studies. Every chapter focuses on a specific period in history, whether it's the arrival of horses to America from Spain, the Thoroughbred Family Tree, the travels of Lewis and Clark, or the Gold Rush. That's a pitifully small sample out of these 53 chapters, but it would take too much time to list them all, and then you wouldn't need to read the book, so there you are. Readers will learn about historical figures yes, but with a focus on the horses that were an important part of their lives. The text is peppered with journal entries from various featured figures. Every chapter also includes a sidebar that provides a list of the main points and highlights discussed. Those aspects are good, but what I really love is that every section includes little tidbits that explain how certain things got their name, or where specific phrases originated. Let me give you a few examples:

A Conestoga wagon, which is where "stogies" got their nickname.

- Did you know how Americans came to drive on the right side of the road? In the days of riding a horse drawn wagon, when driving a narrow path, drivers would pull to the right side of the road, beginning the practice.

- Did you ever wonder how some cigars acquired the name "stogies"? They were named after the wagon drivers who drove wagons called Conestogas, called stogies for short.

- Methodists were given there name by some who actually looked down on their "method" of living, that is, praying, fasting, and generally living a disciplined life.

- How did the phrase, "I'll be there with bells on", come to be? Horses wore bells on their harnesses. If a driver's wagon broke down, he had to wait for another driver to come along and assist. In return, the one assisted would give the helper his horses bells. It was a thing of shame to arrive at your destination with no bells, and it was a source of pride to arrive with all if your bells. Thus, the phrase, to arrive "with my bells on", was born.

I enjoy these extra facts so much that now I keep a sharpened pencil with me as I read, just so I can underline the ones I really want to remember.

The book includes actual historical photos, as well as drawings.

Our whole family is really enjoying this book. Even my husband is waiting his turn. My oldest, the one who generally dislikes history, has been pretty happy to have this as a part of our studies, and has conceded that it's an interesting read. It doesn't sound like it, but that's high praise from her, hee hee. We're just about halfway through with 22 chapters under our belt, and looking forward to the rest. History as a subject aside, this makes a great family read, for all ages. I cannot wait for the other volumes, and the study guide. We've read on average, 5 days weekly, just to get through as many chapters as we could to get a good feel for the material. If you're supplementing your current curriculum, or simply want to go at a slower pace, 3 days a week would work well and provide a good semester's worth of work. 

Whether you use this as a supplement or read aloud, I'm confident that most everyone will be fascinated with how instrumental horses have been in our lives, practically, emotionally, and spiritually. Don't miss this book, pick up a copy!

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History on Horseback: The Early Years {Sonrise Stable Books Reviews}

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Is this week 2 or 3?

We're now going into what, our third week of shelter in place. I'm grateful for the nice weather. We can at least get outside and walk, garden, and enjoy the sunshine. I saw the following post on facebook, and it's a great summation of events. I'm putting it here as a way to document and remember this time in history.

Gas price a mile from home was $1.51
School cancelled March 16 until April 30th and maybe longer.
Self-distancing measures on the rise.
Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other.
Limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.
Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events - cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings - cancelled.
No masses, churches are closed.
No gatherings of 50 or more, then 20 or more, now 10 or more.
Don't socialize with anyone outside of your home.
Children's outdoor play parks are closed.
We are to distance from each other.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.
Shelves are bare.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.
Government closes the border to all non-essential travel.
Fines are established for breaking the rules.
Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
Press conferences daily from the President. Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
Government incentives to stay home.
Barely anyone on the roads.
People wearing masks and gloves outside.
Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.
This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Shelter in Place - 1 Week Later

It's been one week since our governor put into effect, the Shelter in Place order. In other words, stay at home, except for essential travel. We can get groceries, get to the pharmacy, pick up takeout, take a walk, but no parks, malls, theaters...We've been handling it alright, I suppose. Being homeschoolers, we're at home much of the day anyway, and so our days are busy with schoolwork. Still, when you know that you can't go out, it makes you want to know?

This week is our spring break. I'm hoping the weather is nice enough to spend some time outside, take a walk, clean up the yard a bit. The girls also expressed a desire to do some baking, so we'll do that too. What will you be doing this week?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Home School in the Woods - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Home School in the Woods is an amazing company that will take the blahs out of your school work. We have enjoyed several of their digital activity kits over the years, and I was happy to have another occasion to add some pop! to our history and social studies material this semester. They provided us with a family license to their Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures for grades K-12, to use and review. 

I'll begin with the company itself.  Home School in the Woods is made up of the Pak family, who began homeschooling back in 1996. Fun fact, they actually do live in the woods! Each member of the family contributes their talents that make these history studies the amazing collections that they are. Whether it's writing, illustrating, designing the activities, creating the web design, researching, marketing, or trekking out to conventions, the family does it all. 

Amy Pak, who is the mother and teacher of this industrious group, got the ball rolling for HSITW when homeschooling her kids. As many parents are, she was not enthusiastic about teaching history, as it had not been a great subject in her own education. But, a homeschooling mom's gotta do what she has to do. She decided to use timelines as a basis for teaching, thinking that those would pull historical events together visually. Rather than sticking with the textbooks that she had disliked reading in her classes, Amy created her own curriculum by  utilizing a variety of living books,  incorporating drama, and writing activities. As it happens, that experience caused her to get pretty excited about history, and...a company was born. Isn't that an inspiring story? I love it! Homeschoolers all around the world now benefit from one mom's positive approach to a challenging subject. I would encourage you to visit their website, and read the "About" section, it will encourage your faith!
Working on the timeline:

Now then, on to the product that we received. The Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures is simply immense. If you need it, they have it. There are over 1260 figures, as well as 80 bonus figures. This resource has the figures for you in 2 different formats. The first includes text descriptions, and one with simply the name of the figure, and the corresponding date.

Included in Part 1:
PDF's of all of the sets, with different sizes, and with or without text descriptions. These are:
-Creation to Christ
- Resurrection to Revolution
- Napoleon to Now
- America's History
- 80 more bonus figures

Included in Part 2:
The same figures that are in Part 1, but in a high quality format, allowing you to create:
- Timelines
- Coloring pages
- Games
- Whatever else you can come up with to meet your project's needs

The figures are categorized in over 30 ways, so you should be able to locate what you need very quickly.

Finishing up the timeline:

There are also Timeline helps that offer tips and ideas for projects. There are some great ideas! Whether you have a tiny bit of space in your homeschool, or as much as you could ask for, there are ideas for notebooking and creating timelines that suit your needs.

Coloring pages to fit most any historical theme.

Our children are teens now, and having homeschooled from the very start, we've tried out quite a few history curriculums and resources. Over the past few years, we keep circling back around to Home School in the Woods. My youngest in particular, loves the hands on aspect of the studies. She loves having freedom to create, and given the choice, will choose to put together a notebook, timeline, or other display, over reading an often stuffy, monotonous text.

More coloring pages.

We've been focusing quite a bit on WWII this year, and so for this review, have used the helps provided for figures that relate to that era. We've pulled from many resources, books, articles, movies, etc., The materials we've found in this download are fantastic. This is a great option for students who are visual, and learn better by "doing". My 16 year old does not like most traditional history curriculum because she finds most of them beyond dull. When we combine the projects that are offered in these studies, with other living books and such, she actually moves up to not asking me, "Do I HAVE to do history today?" Lol. It's a win. 
There are so many options to choose from that will amp up your learning, and I hope you'll consider giving them a go.
For further fun, check out a variety of great posts at Amy's Blog .

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Home School in the Woods has a great activity pack just in time for elections. Consider taking a look at their U.S Elections Lap-Pak.

Read about it here:

Buy it here:

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Home School in the Woods Collections - Lap-pak, Timeline Figures, History Studies & Activity-Pak {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Math Galaxy - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the Homeschool Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math never has been, and likely never will be, my strongest subject. My days as a student were beyond frustrating. As a public school kid, I didn't have a choice in which curriculum to use, so I struggled through classes for a few years. As a parent, and a homeschooling parent at that, I determined that I would do my best to present Math with a positive attitude. Even so, it's taken some experimenting with various resources to find materials that work for us. I'm so grateful that there are some great helps out there for us. Over the past few weeks, we've had the opportunity to try out the Pre-Algebra Fundamentals app, as well as a few e-books from Math Galaxy to use and review.
Math Galaxy offers Math practice for grades K-12. This is an iOS app, and will work on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. As of the date of this review, it may be purchased for $4.99. I had no problems getting the app downloaded, and we were quickly up and running. I decided that we would be using this as extra practice in addition to our regular Math program, as my daughters have moved beyond pre-algebra. This is not a full curriculum, but a supplement.

When you click on the app, it takes you to the home screen, which allows you to choose which concept to focus on. You have the option of choosing to have the work broken down step by step as you answer, or to simply provide a final answer. As you work through the problems, you earn robots that you will be able to use to play a game called Labrynth.
In addition tot the practice sections, there are videos that will review the concepts presented on the app. They are in the 10 minute range.

What we like:
There are plenty of colorful graphics, and they provide detailed instructions and information in the practice. If you're on the go, the fact that this is an app makes it convenient to work on anywhere, whether it's the car, waiting room, or a sibling's extracurricular activity.
Where we struggled:
We used this on my iPhone, and I have an older model, not one of the larger styles. That meant that it was really difficult to read all of the instructions, see the work from the problems, and even click the correct icons as we worked. This app is better suited to an iPad, where all of the text will be able to be read without killing your eyes. On a larger screen, we definitely would have appreciated the detail that this app provides.

We've also had the chance to try out one of their e-book bundles that focused on pre-algebra concepts. These are a great option for brushing up on decimals, proportions, and percents. There are 754 pages with fun riddles to solve. Worksheets and solutions are included. The pages are bright and colorful, and the riddles will have your younger students giggling. These are good for grades ranging form 3rd to 6th, depending on their ability. You can use these to reinforce your regular curriculum, or pick and choose to provide extra practice for weaker areas. However you decide to use these, they can be a helpful addition to your studies (no pun intended). Click on the links for more information.

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3rd Grade -Algebra Fundametals Math Apps {Math Galaxy Reviews}

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

YWAM Publishing- Corrie Ten Boom - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

In a typical review, this first paragraph would have me trying to grab your attention with a clever joke, interesting story, or some cool fact about history, math, or whatever the subject matter was, related to the post. In this case, I'm going to basically sum up my thoughts right off the bat. YWAM Publishing is an outstanding company! They provided our family with a copy of Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels' Den  from their Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, to read and review.

YWAM stands for Youth With A Mission. YWAM Publishing is a part of their global missions ministries. The Christian Heroes: Then & Now series are written by husband and wife team, Janet & Geoff Benge. Originally from New Zealand, they have twenty years of writing experience, and I must say, they do it well. 

My daughters and I have read a few titles from this series, and I say with no exaggeration, that we've loved every one. Each book is written as a story told from the main characters' point of view, which is different from a typical biography. This writing style makes you feel like you're reading a novel. This particular book, Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels' Den, though, is our favorite so far. Are you familiar with this amazing Christian woman?

Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) was a Dutch woman who grew up in a tight knit Christian family in their home that was known as the Beje (bay-yay). You can see from her early life that she was a determined, caring person, as she began a number of girls club, including the Triangle Club, that would eventually number in the hundreds. Her goal was to share the love of God with teenaged girls.
Her father, Casper, was a loving, kind man, and well thought of in his community. His daily habits of Bible reading, praying, and sharing the love of God with their neighbors had a profound impact on Corrie that would spur her on in the difficult days of WWII.

This book will take you through the early days of Ten Boom and her family, just prior to the German invasion of Holland. Readers will be captivated as they read about this family's determination to not only stay true to their faith in the midst of the terror from the Nazis, but their boldness and bravery in sharing God's love with their enemies. 

One such amazing act of courage was their creation of a secret room within their home to conceal Jewish families that needed to escape the Germans. Dubbed the Angels' Den, this beautifully concealed room built right inside Corrie Ten Boom's bedroom remained undetected for the duration of the war. While the room itself was never discovered, the Ten Booms were found out, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. Even faced with the unspeakable horrors at Ravensbruck, Corrie never lost her faith, or her boldness for God. That isn't to say that she didn't struggle to forgive her enemies. In one of the most awesome accounts told by Corrie, she tells of coming face to face with an SS Guard from Ravensbruck. He had turned to Christ, and reached out to shake her hand, and she spoke of the hate for him that filled her heart as she pictured the faces of her sister and father, both of whom had died in the camps. But, she prayed that God would "help me to live my message". As she shook his hand, she was filled with forgiveness. What can you say to that, but wow!

My daughters love this series. My oldest would love it if we did all of our history through these books, as they are so compelling to read. There are 15 chapters in this book. Enthusiastic readers can complete this in a few hours. This, as well as the rest of the books, are wonderful introductions to the historical figures for elementary up through at least 8th grade, although high schoolers and up will love too, we sure do! They provide just enough of the basic information without being too graphic. 

Families could easily stretch out any of the stories in the series by implementing the study guides that are available separately for each title. They include a variety of activities that could be used to create a unit study, including chapter questions, Bible verses, geography, display ideas, and word searches. We did not use the guide this time around, in order to make sure that both of my daughters and I could all read the book. My oldest did ask me more than once if we could use these as a base for history. Reading events in a story format makes it so much more interesting for her, and I notice that she retains the information better as well, so maybe I will at least use these as a starting point. Even as a read alone book, I would recommend these to any and every family for their inspiration and encouragement. 

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32 Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sheltering in Place

Ok, these are weird times. Who could have guessed that the year 2020 would start off with such trepidation? I'm not a fan of winter, and every year, my mental goal is to reach March 1st, because at that point, spring is within sight. This year, oh man. Can we skip the next two months, and just get over this awful plague?!

This past week has been surreal. It started with the closings of various stores and businesses. Social distancing is the new buzz word. Stores are stripped bare of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, bread, and pretty much anything else people can hoard. Friday afternoon saw our governor mandate a "Shelter in Place" order, allowing residents essential travel only.

As homeschoolers, our lives aren't too radically changed. School is still on for us, although the  extracurriculars are cancelled for now. There won't be any trips to the library, or most anywhere, save a solo trip by me to the grocery store if necessary. We can take walks around the neighborhood, so that will have to do.

On one hand, the slower pace is nice, but once in awhile, as I scan the endless coverage of covid-19, my anxiety kicks in. Every cough or sneeze has you wondering if you're coming down with something. Lord willing, we'll be through this quickly. How are you coping?