Thursday, October 19, 2017

Our Unit Study of Trees–Part 1–Coniferous

Recently I was introduced to a great new method of homeschooling that really seemed right for my kids. It’s all about getting outside and doing a lot more hands-on stuff instead of just studying dry old textbooks and doing a lot of filling in the blanks.
So far it has really worked with our family so I wanted to share some of what we are doing. Today was the first day of our study of trees so I thought it was a great day to start.

It began with a discussion of the two different types of trees – Coniferous and Deciduous. We then began looking in our yard for Coniferous trees and, thanks to buying a house on a very wooded lot, we found three totally distinct types of evergreens. We took some pictures and gathered some samples and this is what we found on our first day then we ran inside to identify the three trees. After some searching we found this wonderful site that helped us ID what we had found - . It took us a while to ID the Hemlock but we finally did using some other websites.

All in all we had a great first day and are looking forward to tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Eastern Hemlock

Trees 1Trees 9
Eastern Red Cedar

Trees 3Trees 5
Eastern White Pine

Trees 4Trees 7

Keep checking back for some pictures of our lapbook (Jacob) and notebook (Joshua) and, of course, pictures of deciduous trees. Sometime in the future I will reveal more about the inspiration for our new study as well. Until then, maybe this will inspire you to get out and explore!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I Can’t Believe How Well Jacob is Reading with Reading Eggs–A Homeschool Review Crew Review!

Reading Eggs

We have had a lot of difficulty teaching our youngest biological child to read. Most of you know that he is on the autism spectrum but is smart as a whip in most areas. Reading however is not one of those areas. We have tried all of the usual approaches over the years and some unusual ones as well. Nothing seemed to click with him. I remembered that a long time ago we reviewed and used Reading Eggs for a while and he loved it and seemed to excel. Somehow, though, we got sidetracked and thought something else might work better. Well, wouldn’t you know it, through the Homeschool Review Crew we were given the chance to review it once again and I took the chance. After all, why try to reinvent the wheel? If it worked once, maybe it will work again.

Reading Eggs

The first thing that I noticed was that it seems that it has changed! The Reading Eggs program itself hasn’t changed, but it has added a few new things that I either didn’t notice or it wasn’t there before. I noticed a program, Reading Eggs Jr, for 2-4 year olds, that will help kids begin to learn to read even earlier and another, Reading Eggspress, for children 7-13, that will continue to help kids after they have completed the Reading Eggs program. There is even a new program that will help kids with math called Mathseeds! I’ll talk about those programs briefly just a little bit later but lets talk about Reading Eggs, their main program and the one that has helped Jacob tremendously.

And, yes we picked up where we left off with Reading Eggs. Jacob loves it just as much as he did before, and he is once again excelling in reading. Since it had been some time since we used it, we began with the placement test to see on what map he should begin on. You see, Reading Eggs has different maps that each contain ten lessons. Each lesson introduces a new sound. In a recent lesson that Jacob completed the “ix” sound was introduced. Jacob had to go through about 12 different games that mostly had to do with “ix” but sometimes reviewed something from a previous lesson. One of the things that he had to do was click on two of the awesome animated characters. One was in a barn loft hoisting one bale of hay with a letter on it. The other was on the ground tugging on another bale that had two more letters on it. As Jacob clicked on the characters the bales would come closer together. Each time Jacob could hear the sounds of the letters until the bales finally came together and the word was actually revealed and the sounds blended together to say the word. Another game had him putting fish with words on them in the correct boat. Still another game had him putting a sentence together using bricks. Finally, at the end of the lesson, he gets to read a book that contains words that had the “ix” sound in it or another sound that he had previously learned. Each lesson builds on the one before it. Jacob is loving it! He has learned so much already in this short review time and is becoming more confident in his reading. He wants to do two or three lessons a day which is fine with me.

And those are just the regular lessons. There are also other awesome added features that help him learn without him even knowing it. We haven’t even had time to try them all out! He can create his own story. He can play games. Each time he does well in the regular lessons he gets reward eggs. He can use his reward eggs to buy furniture for his house or to buy clothes for the avatar he created at the beginning or to play some cool games. There is also a spelling section that will help him learn to spell, a driving test area that helps him review sight words, letters and sounds and content words, printables that you can print out and much more. I am really excited to see him try more and excel.

Reading Eggs*

I mentioned some of the other programs before. I really like the progression that Reading Eggs has made with it’s programs. Each program, Reading Eggs Jr.,  Reading Eggs, and Reading Eggspress, is designed so that a student can go seamlessly through the program and become an excellent reader (or should I say “eggcellent” reader).

And, as I was writing this review, we just got an email that the new homeschool guides are available for homeschoolers. They can be printed out and used for kindergarten to second grade parents to use as a complete curriculum using some of the great books from the Reading Eggs library. It covers language arts, math, science and social studies!

This is a winner for us, and, as I said before, we are not going to try to reinvent the wheel anymore. We are sticking with Reading Eggs.  I know that you will really enjoy it as well but don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. The creators of Reading Eggs have allowed us to offer a Free 4 week trial that you can use to see if you like to program. Just click on the highlighted link that says “Free 4 week trial” to find out more. To look around and see all that Reading Eggs has to offer just click on any one of the other highlighted links above. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed Reading Eggs as well and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Reading!

Reading Eggs

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our 2017 Summer Adventures–Part 1–Trip to Pennsylvania!

Life has been a real adventure for the past few months. Many of you know that we bought a new home at the beginning of the year, and, since then, have welcomed four new members into our family. Three are teen brothers that we love dearly and are soon to become their legal guardians. One is a fantastic young man who is a friend of my oldest son. He found himself in a bit of trouble and was homeless, so we welcomed him into our home as well. Poor Sarah can’t seem to get a break. She now has 8 males living with her!

When we first embraced these awesome young men and took them into our family we realized that they hadn’t had the some of the opportunities to travel and see other things. In fact, the three brothers had barely been out of the state of Tennessee. One had never been outside of the state. We were very excited to be able to show them what life was like elsewhere. Our first small adventure was to a weekend retreat in Kentucky.

About a month ago, though, we were able to take them up to Pennsylvania to our missions annual conference. It was a blast! They had so much fun seeing new things. One of the things that they really liked was The Virginia Safari Park and Zoo. I’m going to write more about that later, but in this post I wanted to share some pictures from our trip up to conference.

Most of the pictures are from Gettysburg. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there - really only a couple of hours, but we found that at least one of the boys, Robert, loved being there. When I told him later that it seemed like he really liked history, he commented that he liked going to historic places and learning about them there, but didn’t like reading about history from a textbook. That’s the way a lot of us like to learn, so visits to some historic places may be in our future! Enjoy the pictures. I hope you see the enthusiasm that the boy’s had in seeing new places.

PA Trip 1PA Trip 2PA Trip 3PA Trip 5PA Trip 7PA Trip 4

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Let’s Go Geography–An Awesome Homeschool Review Crew Review

Let's Go Geography

One thing that amazes me about children on the autism spectrum, especially those diagnosed with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, is that they are like little professors. They latch on to things and want to learn all about that topic. For Joshua it was Thomas the Train when he was younger. Then it was trains in general, helicopters, bowling, WWE wrestling (ugh!), flags, and more. His most recent phase has been geography. It has been for the past few years, thankfully. When he first began becoming interested in geography it was very difficult to find material that would actually interest him but also find material he could actually use. You see, he devoured almost everything he could find on the subject, but his level of knowledge soon out grew his reading level. His knowledge was on a high school level (I would say he knows more now than the average college student) but his reading comprehension level was a lot lower. I really wish I would have known about Let’s Go Geography way back then. I think that he would have loved this.

Thankfully, however, I still have a chance to use this awesome three year geography program with my youngest Jacob. I am very glad to say that he has also taken a bit of an interest in geography and history as well. Maybe not as much as Joshua but still an interest and I am always glad when a child of mine takes an interest in something other than video games!

Let's Go Geography

Let’s Go Geography is really a fantastic program that’s listed for grades kindergarten through four but I have learned a bunch from the program myself so I think that it can be used, at least as a supplement, for a lot higher than fourth grade. After you purchase a membership (there are different plans to fit nearly any budget) you will be emailed the link to your first country. You can see the three year plan below. You can also just log into your account and download from there.

Each week is packed with a lot of great information and projects that you can work with at any pace that you want, but since all of the information is divided into five sections then doing a little each day for five days works great. The five chapters cover Mapping the country being studies; the flag of the country; the music of the country; exploring the country; and creating a craft that represents the country. What makes it great is that all printables and links are provided. All you might need are things like colored pencils, glue, etc. (all extra materials that you may need are listed) and, of course, a printer to print off everything.

Let's Go Geography

We love this program! There is so much information but it is covered in such a way that it is very interesting. Let me talk about everything we learned about Canada – week three of the suggested plan. We love Canada and we travel there every year to help out at a camp run by some friends of ours.

The first thing we learned was where Canada was located and a little bit about the country. Younger students are just required to color in the map (sites to printable maps are provided). Older students identify the different provinces and territories as well. All students talk about the countries that border Canada, the rivers, lakes, and the climate.

Next we learn about the countries flag. There are printable flags provided that can be printed off and cut out for multiple students if you have more than one in your family. The student colors in the flag, and either pastes it there “Flags of North America” page or in their passport book that can be purchased separately.

We love the third chapter of each weeks lesson. That chapter is the music from that country. Almost always there is a link to the anthem for that country and most often there is a link to other music from that country. We love the anthem for Canada. Although we are United States citizens through and through, the beautiful national anthem of Canada reminds us of the kids that come to the camp and sing the anthem while raising the flag every morning. We also love hearing music from countries so this section is one of our favorites.

The fourth section is also a favorite of ours. It’s the “Let’s Explore” chapter where there are a ton of links and information to videos and websites that you can use to explore your section. The lesson on Canada has five tremendous links to videos that tell about the people of Canada, the landscape, and popular places to visit. There is also a link to a wonderful site where you can read about all things Canada! I really like that the author of this curriculum also provided the exact area in the library that you would go to find books about Canada. There is also a section with writing suggestions for older students if they want to notebook about the country being studies complete with colored pictures to print and cut out if wanted. Of course, the notebooking page is also provided!

Finally, the fifth chapter gives you craft ideas and coloring pages that can be printed out and created. The craft ideas often feature something that represents a native craft or a craft that uses something that is very distinct to that country. For example, one of the crafts for Canada uses the maple leaf which, of course, is one of the major symbols for Canada. As mentioned before, most of the things needed are provided to print out, and any outside materials are listed at the beginning of each week.

We are absolutely loving Let’s Go Geography! Even Joshua takes a peak at what we are doing and gets interested sometimes. To find out more about this product just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this company and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Unauthorized–Another Great Game from Chara Games–A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Chara Games

I was never fond of many of role playing/strategy games growing up. It seemed that a lot of the ones available were ones that were controversial in the Christian world. A few years ago we were introduced to some new strategy/role playing games that weren’t necessarily Christian but didn’t really have anything controversial about them. We really enjoyed playing them. Last year were introduced to Chara Games when we reviewed their game Christian based board game - Commissioned. We loved it and were very excited when we were chosen to review another of their games this year. This time it is a very cool card game called Unauthorized.

Soon after the game arrived I gave it to my oldest son John Allen to look over. He is the strategy game expert and, since so many times strategy games have complicated rules, I thought he would be the best one to figure them out and explain to the rest of us. I am not one that is good at explaining rules – I usually need them spelled out to me – and because this game requires at least six players I knew I would need someone that would be able to communicate effectively to a number of people. What we happily discovered was that the rules were simpler than we thought. They still needed some explaining but weren’t really that difficult. Even I was able to understand the rules and was able to build a strategy the first time played.


To begin the game, you are dealt a Role Card at random. Depending on the number of players at least one person is always a pastor and at least one person is a policeman. The other players are neutral players such as the matchmaker, clerk, merchant, counselor, teacher, thief, etc. Thankfully all of them are two sided with a woman on one side and a man on the other so, for example, if you are a man, and got the thief card, you turn your card over to the man thief and leave it face up on the table. Each person has a different role power that I will briefly explain in a minute. The players are then dealt seven random Experience Cards. The only exception is that the policeman is always starts off with seven red cards and the pastor with seven green cards. Those cards determine if you are loyal to the church or loyal to the state. If you have more green church cards than red state cards then you are loyal to the church. If you have more red cards than green then you are loyal to the state. The number of green and red cards you have during the game can change so that may change your loyalty and you must then change your strategy. Your goal is to make sure you stay loyal to whatever you are loyal to, and to sway other players to your side.

There are only four rounds in the game so the game goes fairly quickly. The first time we played, of course, took a little longer because we were just getting used to the rules, however, the game usually only takes around 30 minutes. At the beginning of each round all players either play one or two cards face up in front of you, or pass a card to another player and then play a card. Each round instructs you to do something a little different at the start of that round. Then each player takes a turn and can choose one of four actions. You either use your role power to do something, speak to a neighbor and ask him to show you his cards, seek parole if you are in prison, or conduct a public execution if you are a policeman.

At least with us, most of the time we chose to use our role powers. Each player has something different that they can do with their role power. For example, during one game I was the merchant and I could swap one card with another player. I have also played as the teacher and I could draw a card from the pile, look at it, and give it to a player of my choice. Remember, as I am doing this, I am always trying to sway another player to my side as well as make sure I maintain my loyalty.

At the end of four rounds we put down the cards in our hands beside the cards that have already been played in front of us and that determines which side wins the game. The game can be very fluid. At one point you are loyal to one side and are working toward that goal, then someone could play a card that would change your loyalty and your entire strategy changes. It’s really a lot of fun and strategic.


John Allen is very smart when it comes to things like this and caught on to the strategy right away. He loves playing this game. It took me a little while longer but I am getting the hang of it now. Poor Sarah. Even now she is having a hard time figuring out the ins and outs of it all. The rest of the kids are in between but we all agree it’s we really like the game.

It also makes one think about real life in countries where the goal of the state is to really crush the church and the goal of the church is to just stay alive! It is really though provoking.

I think you’ve gotten the idea that we have really enjoyed playing Unauthorized by Chara Games. To find out more about this game and other games by this great company click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this game and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Remember, Christmas is coming and this would be a great gift! Happy Game Playing!

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Carole P Roman Children’s Books Are Awesome!–A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Carole P Roman Blog

Yesterday I wrote about two of our loves. My love of history and my love of reading. I could go on and on about why I love these two things, but it that would take up a whole blog post and that isn’t the purpose of this review. At any rate, I have at least succeeded to instill these great loves in my biological children to some extent and am trying to instill them in the other fantastic children God has placed in our home. It’s beginning to work, but again that is for another post.

Sometimes our two loves of reading and history collide and sometimes they don’t. When we heard that we would be getting two books from Carole P. RomanIf You Were Me and Lived in. . . the American West and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Elizabethan England we were super excited. However, when we found out that we would be sent two bonus books – If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Viking Europe and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the Ancient Mali Empire we were absolutely thrilled! Some of the Carole P. Roman books were reviewed last year by the Homeschool Review Crew but we weren’t one of the ones that were able to review them. We heard they were fantastic so we had high expectations. We were not disappointed!

Each book tells you exactly what the name implies. What it was like to live in that time period!

Books by Carole P Roman

My kids really loved If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the American West. We have been studying American History and this supplemental resource really fit in with our curriculum. It talked about what it was like to move from the the east to the west back in the 1840’s during “The Great Migration of 1843” We talked a lot about the arduous journey that the imaginary but true to life family took. They liked the fact that the author wrote the book from the perspective of a boy around their age so, not only did they learn what was expected from an adult during the journey but what was expected of a child as well. We were amazed at how many supplies the Conestoga wagon had to hold but how creative the travelers were in where they placed everything. The boys were super glad that they didn’t have to take that trip themselves and work as hard as the children did and eat the foods that they ate. We all agreed, though, that it did look very adventurous. The book goes on to explain what had to happen when the weary travelers finally made it to their destination and had to set up their new homestead. It was all fascinating to read and the awesome, detailed, pictures that the illustrator, Paula Tabor drew added to the learning experience.

Books by Carole P Roman

I really enjoyed If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Elizabethan England. This book was is written from the perspective of a young girl, but, just as in the above book, the role of boys, women and adults were also explained in detail. I had no idea what everyday life was like during the time of Queen Elizabeth in the 1570’s. Life wasn’t just difficult for adults but for children as well. Although the book was written about the life of a family who owned a bakery and were of the middle class, it also described the poor class and the rich class of England in those days. Again, this book enlightens us as to what they ate and wore and how much things cost during that period as well as what the people did for fun and entertainment. It talks about the types of housing and the living conditions of the poor, middle class and the rich. It is fascinating! Again the pictures add a lot to the learning.

There is a lot packed into both of these small books.Both are around 40 pages long and include a small section at the end that describes famous people from that area and a glossary of words and terms used in the books.

The two bonus books that we received - If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Viking Europe and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the Ancient Mali Empire – were equally fascinating. They come from a slightly different series of books by Carole P. Roman that goes into a little more detail about the time period and place that each book is talking about. Although they cover basically the same types of things and each has a section that describes famous people from that time period and area as well as a glossary, each book has well over 70 pages. The pictures are also drawn by another illustrator, Mateya Arkova, but they are equally as good.

We absolutely love these books! I’m sure you will to. To check them out just click on anyone of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other books by Carole P. Roman and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.

Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Progeny Press Literature E-Guides–A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Progeny Press

I know that I am probably going to start sounding like a broken record, but there are two things that most members of the family really love are reading and history. At least my biological kids love those things and I am trying to instill that love in my other children as well. Tomorrow I am going to be writing about a fantastic homeschool resource for history, but today I get to write about another wonderful resource that has to do with reading.

When I was in school I was introduced to great literature and the classics but it really wasn’t until later on in life that I began to read those things more. Thankfully the homeschool curriculum that we have used over the years has helped me to encourage that love in my homeschooled boys as well. One of those homeschool companies is Progeny Press and their literature “E-Guides”. We have reviewed them in the past and my boys have learned a lot so we were thrilled to be chosen to review The Silver Chair E-Guide this year.

First of all, we love the Chronicles of Narnia books by CS Lewis, and have long awaited the next Narnia movie coming out – The Silver Chair – so we were really excited by this one. If you haven’t read any of the Narnia books then I really encourage you to read them. The Silver Chair begins when two children, Eustice and Jill are swept into another world called Narnia. There they are given the task to find the son of the king who disappeared many years before. Unfortunately they keep forgetting the instructions and, after much bungling, they fear that they may have completely failed in their mission. Trust me, it’s a very enjoyable book!

We also love Progeny Press and their E-Guides. They not only make sure that the student comprehends what they are reading (or in our case what is being read to them) and learn a bit of grammar and vocabulary along the way, but, since Progeny Press is a Christian company, they also intertwine Biblical truths into the lesson.

The E-Guide is divided into three sections. After some preliminary notes to the teacher and a short section about the author the first section contains some Pre-Reading activities. These get you ready to read the book and prepared for the lessons. Since remembering the different instructions regarding how to find the king’s son was important in the book, there is a pre-reading activity regarding memorization. Without going into much detail I will tell you that caves are a big part of the book as well so there are some activities concerning caves. Another activity talks about allusions which are used a lot in the Narnia books. These are the types of things are introduced in the Pre-Reading section.

Silver Chair - E-Guide

The second section is the meat of the E-Guide. They have taken the book and divided the chapters into five groups – each group containing two or three chapters in each (the last group has four chapters). For each group they have Vocabulary and Comprehension Questions done in a variety of ways. These are basic questions that make sure you understand what you are reading. The “Thinking About the Story” questions go a little further into the story. This is where they get into grammar a little bit. Since this study guide is written for 5-7th grade, they talk about a little more advanced things than nouns and verbs. For example, the section on chapters one and two contains questions on foreshadowing, imagery, and similes. The final section is the “Digging Deeper” section where the study compares some things in the book to things that you might learn in the Bible. Since CS Lewis was a Christian and meant for this to happen in his books, this section is very interesting. You can’t imagine how many Biblical truths are taught in his books. There are also some alternate activities that you can choose from in each section as well.

The Final section is what I would call the wrap-up section. The is an Overview with a lot of questions that wrap up the study that could be used as a final exam. There are also “After You Read” suggestions that include creative writing suggestions, art suggestions and more. A separate answer key is also provided.

We have really enjoyed working through all of the Progeny Press  E-Guides that we have done over the years and have really enjoyed working through The Silver Chair E-Guide. To find out more about this product or any other products that this company has just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this and other product from Progeny Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}
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