Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Together4Adoption - Oct. 4-5, Louisville, KY - Early Bird Registration

T4A 2013
Early Bird - Discount $20 - ends July 31st!!!!
Jon and I had the opportunity to attend a Together for Adoption conference several years ago while still in the "waiting" process of our adoption.  We had such a tremendous experience.  I so appreciated that the conference wasn't a lot of fluff.  The speakers in the main sessions really dug deep into God's Word, and the breakout sessions were both informational and encouraging.
The Story that Changes EVERYTHING
for US and the FATHERLESS
Six rich general sessionsFifty tool-gathering workshopsOne breathtaking Story.

General Session Topics

  1. The Story Gone Wrong (Mike Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity)
  2. Stories of the Fatherless (Dr. Sharen Ford, Manager of Colorado State’s Permanency Services Unit)
  3. The Story Re-Written (Dan Cruver)
  4. Our Lives Re-Written (Mike Reeves)
  5. Stories of the Fatherless Re-Written (Vermon Pierre)
  6. When Everything Sad Comes Untrue (Scotty Smith)

8 Breakout Session Tracks

  1. Stories about Beginning the Adoption Journey (Pre­-Adoption)
  2. Stories from Experienced Adoptive Families (Post-Adoption)
  3. Stories from Experienced Adoptive Families with Special Needs
  4. Stories about Foster Care within Families
  5. Stories about the Orphan Crisis from Experienced Organizations
  6. Stories about Financing your Adoption Journey
  7. Stories about Developing Ministries for Adoption/Orphan Care Movement
  8. Stories about God’s Work through the Theology of Adoption

 Adoptive and foster parents, ministers, church leadership, orphan care ministry teams, anyone who cares for the fatherless...  this conference is for you!  Don't miss Early Registration - it ends tomorrow!  I'd LOVE to meet you there!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to Home School Giveaway

Don't miss this!  I'm entering... aren't you?
(This post includes affiliate links.)

Sponsors of our 3rd Annual Back to Home School Giveaway

 Ready to Enter? Click here!

Prize Package Details - Total Prizes Valued at $1,906!

How it works:  12 individual winners will be drawn - one for each
prize pack below.


Hearts at Home Curriculum Store - Hearts at Home is offering a 5-Subject
Switched on Schoolhouse Complete Set. Switched-On Schoolhouse is a comprehensive, Christian homeschool curriculum that offers computer-based learning for grades 3-12. With animation, video clips, and other fascinating multimedia, Switched-On Schoolhouse is the perfect Christian homeschool curriculum for today's generation.Winners will select one grade between 3-12. Hearts at Home offers over 200 publishers at up to 30% off everyday! Super fast, flat rate shipping & great service. Owned and operated by a homeschooling family. Total Value - $450

Founders Academy - Founders Academy is an online instructional resource to assist you
in your homeschooling. They provide live, interactive and engaging instruction in American Government and Free Market Economics for a variety of ages. Winners will win the following: Sensational Signers of the Declaration of Independence &
Choice of ONE: Government 101 OR Economics 101. (Note: Semester of Economics or Government class must be used Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 and has no cash value if not claimed or used. If you have no high school students, you may substitute Economics
or Government for the Young Patriot's American History.)
Total Value - $221

Bright Ideas Press - Enter to win a year of your choice of Illuminations plus the corresponding science and history books that go with it (either The Mystery or History or All American History and a year of Christian Kids Explore Science). Tired of planning
it all yourself? Do you long to teach your kids together at the same time? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the planning you need to do? Do you ever wish you could find all your plans in one place? Illuminations is your answer! Illuminations is an all-inclusive* curriculum plan, covering Bible, language arts (grammar, writing, copywork, spelling, and vocabulary), literature, science, humanities (poetry, theater, music, and art), geography,
history, and life skills. Total Value - $215

Cover Story - From the creator of The One Year Adventure Novel comes a new writing curriculum for mid-grade students. Cover Story takes middle school students – 6th through 8th grade – on a guided tour through the universe of Story. The program covers
poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, interviews, blogs, letters, and much more in video lessons taught by a professional writer. A complete Language Arts program: Writing, Story techniques and structure, Literature, Critical thinking, & Grammar (included but optional.) Total Value - $149

Home School Adventure Co. has bundled an exciting and unique critical
thinking collection which includes: Philippians in 28 Weeksâ„¢ - a simple and painless way to memorize an entire book of Scripture, The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions - an enchanting fable that unmasks the ugliness of pride and selfishness, and the newly released Philosophy Adventureâ„¢ -Pre-Socratics - designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how
to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas. Total Value $148

BrimWood Press - BrimWood Press is dedicated to providing thought-rich,
visually stimulating materials that enable children to grasp essential concepts of learning through pioneering methods that engage the whole child. Their package is the "Conversations Worldview Kit" - a combination of some of the most popular BrimWood
Press' worldview products: Christian Theology & Ancient Polytheism, Historical
Novels for Engaging Thinkers
, Introduction to Worldview, & Conversations
from the Garden
. Total Value - $125

A+ TutorSoft - Multisensory-Interactive Homeschool MATH ONLINE (1 year Access) - Our Multi-Sensory Interactive MATH Curriculum Software makes learning MATH fun and easy by using audio, computer animated visuals and text. It is designed to keep your child's attention. Total Value - $125

Heritage History - The Heritage Classical Curriculum is the easiest, least expensive, and most enjoyable way to learn traditional history. Their "living books" reading program
uses narrative histories that were popular with young people of earlier generations
and features books of interest to students of all ages. This giveaway includes the following titles: Young Readers, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, & British Empire. Total Value - $125

Memoria Press - First Form Latin Set - Written by Cheryl Lowe (author of the best-selling Latina Christiana), First Form and its sister Latin products have been used by more than 100,000 students across the world to learn Latin! First Form's grammar-first approach focuses on grammar forms and vocabulary because these are the skills suitable for the grammar stage student. The First Form Series is for students of all ages because
all beginners—regardless of age—are in the grammar stage of learning.
Total Value - $115

NotebookingPages.com - Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership with 1-year bonus access to The Notebooking Publisher web-app. Your Membership includes access to ALL
of their products on this page
PLUS LIFETIME updates...past, present, & future
products...all yours! Total Value - $100

Blogelina - The Complete Blog Set-Up/Makeover Package. Have you ever wanted a blog, but you didn't know where to start? Wonder how you can make money for your family by blogging? This complete package is for you! If you already have a blog, get a FREE makeover! Total Value - $79

Write Through the
Write Through the Bible is a series of copywork printables designed
for an entire school year, combining the disciplines of handwriting, dictation,
vocabulary, and Scripture memory into one daily activity. Prize includes The ENTIRE
Write Through the Bible Collection
along with The Heart of Humility: Teaching
Your Kids to Put Others First (A family study of Philippians 2:1-18). The Workbooks
will be in both manuscript and cursive & you can choose between ESV or KJV
! Total Value - $54

Ready to Enter? Click here!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Macy's Shop for A Cause

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Our wonderful adoption agency America World has many international adoption programs and most recently has added a domestic program.  One of the international adoption options is Haiti.  To better serve traveling adopting families and missions teams, the agency has opened a guesthouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  (You can read more about the guesthouse.) 

America World is currently partnering with Macy’s Shop for A Cause to raise money for the startup of the Haiti Guesthouse in Port-au-Prince. You can purchase 25% OFF ALL DAY coupons to all Macy’s department stores nationwide for Macy’s Shop for A Cause Day on August 24, 2013. The coupons are sold for only $5 each, with 100% of the profits given to America World Adoption to support the Haiti Guesthouse. Each coupon also provides the recipient with an entry form to win a $500 Macy’s shopping spree.

Whether you are buying back-to-school clothes, wedding or baby gifts, or maybe something special for yourself, please consider supporting the Haiti Program through this fun and easy fundraiser. Your donation will go to purchase linens, matresses, furniture, and more for the adoptive families who will stay in the guesthouse during their adoption travel.

To purchase, select "General Donation" on the Donation page and indicate "Macy's" in the notes. Coupon will be mailed to you the next day.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tunnel of Gold (Review)

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From the Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures book series, I've been familiar with author, Susan Marlow for some time.  Both of these series are wonderful for elementary aged and tween girls.  While my boys may not publicly admit it, they've enjoyed listening to a story or two about Andi and her horse.  However, what they'd be happy to talk your ear off about would be Susan Marlow and Kregel Publications newest series, Goldtown Adventures.

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Our family had the opportunity to review Tunnel of Gold, which is actually the second book in the series.  At first, I had concerns and wondered if we would be at a disadvantage having not read the first book.  Would we lack prior knowledge?  Would we understand the characters and be able to follow along with the plot?  I can assure you that even though part of a series, the book can serve as a stand alone title as well. 

The Goldtown Adventures take place in an 1864 in Goldtown, California where Jem, his sister Ellie, their cousin, and friends have many adventures around Cripple Creek.  In Tunnel of Gold, Jem is caught in the middle of a miner’s riot, and the Midas mine has run out of gold.  While evidence of some promise lies deep underground, it put's Jem's father, the sheriff, in a precarious position.  He is told to force the Chinese to leave their lawful claim or lose his job.  Jem has to think fast!  The mine owner's son devises a plan.  Does Jem go along?  And what disaster may it bring?  I hate a spoiler, so you'll have to read to find out!  However, as the kids and I can attest to, there is plenty of action!   

My Jeremiah loved that the main character, nicknamed Jem, was also a Jeremiah.  Daddy sometimes call him "Jeromius" as a nickname, and he thought he may like "Jem" better.  As expected, it just didn't stick!  It was funny though in his attempt :-)

Now what I loved about the book:  well developed plot and characters opposed to cheesy kids fluff, wholesome language, life lessons, morals, and values, and Scripture quotations.  Also, being a transracial family, we know that we often stick out or veer from the norm.  We don't look the way some people believe families should look.  Brown kids and peach kids in the same family?  So, I was especially, thrilled to see the intentional friendship between Chinese, Wu Shen and Jem.  Even better, when others teased and bullied Wu Shen, Jem showed strength of character, integrity, and exhibited true friendship.  These are important lessons for my family! 

The recommended age range for the book is 8-12 years.  When using it as a read-aloud, as we did, younger children can also enjoy the story.  Read a sample chapter.  The book retails for $7.99 + $2.50 shipping and handling, or books 1 & 2 may be purchased in a set for $13.95 + $3.00 shipping and handling.

As a homeschool mom, I love the fact that this book can become a more in depth unit study with the aide of the Free Enrichment Study Guide.  The 25 page guide includes maps, recipes, games, comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, further historical information and readings, etc.  It is a detailed resource.


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fine Arts Pages - Review & GIVEAWAY!

(This post contains affiliate links!  Thanks for supporting our homeschool efforts!)

Thinking back upon my elementary education, I have to admit there are few memories of my art classes.  Actually, I must admit I didn't care much for the teacher and along with the other kids I called her Ms. Duty behind her back (which in my lame defense at least sounded similar to her actual name).  I vaguely recall attempting to draw a bowl of fruit with the charcoal pencil, but I used the gummy eraser more than anything and ended up with holes in my paper.  The only fun project that stands out in my mind was coloring a paper, painting it with black Tempera paint, and scratching designs in it with a paperclip.  No matter what piece of art we created, Ms. Duty (oops... there I go again) insisted we "seal" it.  Thus, she was always armed and ready with a large aerosol can of AquaNet... the same one I assumed she used to keep her large helmet hairstyle in place. 

As sketchy as my memory is of our elementary art projects, I have absolutely no recollection of art history or art appreciation.  In all honesty, it wasn't until my first MUSIC teaching job proved to be a HUMANITIES job that I actually learned a few artists and their most famous works.  Then, thanks to my kids brief infatuation with Disney's Little Einsteins I tucked a few more away in the brain for safe keeping.

One of the reasons I'm homeschooling my children is that I want better experiences for them.  I may or may not have a budding artist among them, but they all can come to appreciate art and beauty.  After all, God is Creator! We are His images, and we are surrounded by masterpieces.

Now, the big questions?  How does a novice in art appreciation teach her children?  Where would I look for materials? And for goodness sake, where on Earth will this subject fit in our already super busy homeschooling, field trips, and activities schedule?  Cue entrance:  Erica Johns at Classical Composers Monthly has the answers... FINE ARTS PAGES.

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Fine Arts Pages introduces 25 famous works in somewhat of mini-poster/highlights approach.  Each page depicts the artwork at the top and then notes a few snippets of basic information below.  There are facts about the artist, when the piece was created, what medium was used, where it can be seen now, and a fun fact.

These posters are so versatile.  They can be hung throughout the house for all to enjoy and soak in throughout day to day living.  They can be great discussion starters in regards to elements of art (color, shape, etc.) or life in general (people, places, etc.)  Actually, if there is a print that really strikes one's fancy, the poster can actually serve as a springboard for an in-depth study of an artist, medium, technique... the possibilities are endless.

Visit Fine Arts Pages today!
Check out a Claude Monet freebie!

Normally, the Fine Arts Pages will retail for $14.95.
Until July 14th, The Fine Art Pages will be available at a special introductory price of $9.95
(all other collections are also on sale for $9.95 until then as well)
For one of my readers, the price will be...
Be sure and enter the giveaway below.
Disclaimer:  I was provided with a complementary Fine Arts Pages membership.  All opinions are my own.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

IEW's Teaching the Classics (Review)

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Homeschoolers everywhere are familiar with the high quality, stellar products of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  For many of us, Andrew Pudewa is somewhat of a ROCK-STAR, and we flock to hear him speak at conventions.  The company continues to introduce me to new products and authors/lecturers that knock my socks off. 

My children are still too young for many of IEW's products.  However, my experience with this company thus far has solidified my desire to utilize their incredibly organized, detailed, solid programs in the future.  Although, recently, I was able to review a product I can use with the kids in the present.
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Teaching the Classics is a course divided into six sessions on 4 DVDs. A workbook accompanies the seminar. (View a sample of the workbook.)  The package retails for $89.

The intended purpose of this seminar is to be teacher training.  However, it would be appropriate and possibly of interest to older teens to participate in the course alongside their parents.  In fact, you can view sample lesson plans for using these materials to teach a 6 week class to middle and high school students. 

Being that my big kids are 6, 7, and 8, this was one of those rare occasions when the product in review was just for Mommy.  Not gonna lie - I savored that a bit :)  I didn't rush through the course in a matter of days.  I actually took several weeks to process, absorb, and begin to implement all the fabulous information imparted.  

The session breakdown of Teaching the Classics is as follows:
1. Preparing for Literary Analysis
2. Plot and Conflict
3. Setting
4. Character
5. Theme
6. Practicum, Scope and Sequence
When putting this into practice and interacting with a piece of literature, it is most helpful for the parent/teacher to have read it previously.  Then, a Story Chart and the Socratic List of questions can be employed.  The story chart serves as a visual organizer for the student to house the information for the 5 basic elements of the story.  Then questions from the Socratic List can be asked and answered.  There are 21 questions listed ascending in degrees of difficulty.  Rather than answer all the questions, choose age appropriately and discuss only 3-5 for each literary work.   

What I LOVED about Teaching the Classics....

***First, I want to point out that author and creator Adam Andrews "gets it."  He is not some stuffy suit so far removed from the education arena.  Actually, he and his wife homeschool their 6 children.  As a homeschooling mom, I must say that knowing a tidbit such as this always causes me to give a product more credence from the very get-go! 

***Likewise, I find myself applauding Mr. Andrews again because it is clearly made known that the program includes distinctly Christian content.

***I appreciated the use of familiar literature in teaching the method.  With snippets from The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Casey at Bat, I didn't feel like I had to focus on a new story, but instead, I could hone in on the "guts" of the program. 

***The story chart is a wonderful tool.  For now, it will guide me in discussing literature with the kids, but in the future, they can fill the page out themselves.

***The methodology can be used with all literature opposed to being genre-specific.  Want to read biographies and historical fiction or classics, plays, and poetry?  Whatever your preference, if it tells a story the teachings apply.

***At a loss for what stories to choose?  There is a large list of recommended titles.  Some are gems the kids and I have already enjoyed, others I remember from my own childhood, and still others are new to me.  I can't wait for us to read and explore together!

As with the last IEW product I used, it's hard not to write a gushy review, but folks, this company is phenomenal!  I encourage you to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  Click below to read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members are saying.  Some families reviewed Teaching the Classics and others reviewed the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style Set and Student Writing Intensives - Levels A, B, and C.


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Moving Beyond the Page (Review)

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Moving Beyond the Page is a literature-rich, unit based curriculum.  Because it focuses equally on critical and creative thinking, it appeals to multiple learning styles.  Children respond to what they read through engaging activities and projects.  
Moving Beyond the Page offers full-year comprehensive curriculum or can be used as supplemental materials.  Individual Language Arts, Science and Social Studies unit studies are available for 7-13 year olds. Our family had the opportunity to review the Tornado language arts unit and the Amazing Weather science unit - both designed for students ages 7-9.  These two units were designed to be used in conjunction with one another. 
Age 7-9: Concept 1 - Environment: Unit 1
Purchase Options:
#136 - Language Arts Package - $24.97
(includes: Literature Unit (physical copy), How the Turtle Got Its Shell, and Tornado)
#1024 - Language Arts Package - online - $20.91
(includes: Literature Unit Online, How the Turtle Got Its Shell, and Tornado)
#153 - Literature Unit - Tornado - physical copy only - $16.99
#1087 - Literature Unit - Tornado - online only - $12.93
Age 7-9: Concept 1 - Environment: Unit 1
Purchase options:
#914 Science Package - $33.97
(includes: Science Unit (physical copy), On the Same Day in March, Weather and Climate - Geography Facts and Experiments, and Individual Boiling Point Thermometers)
#936 Science Package Online - $29.91
(includes: Science Unit (online), On the Same Day in March, Weather and Climate - Geography Facts and Experiments, and Individual Boiling Point Thermometers)
#1250 Science Unit - Amazing Weather - physical copy only - $16.99
#1144 Science Unit - Amazing Weather - online only - $12.93
As you can see just from these two titles, the prices vary among the unit studies.  You have the choice of purchasing only the unit guide in either physical or online format.  Another option is to purchase a package which not only includes either the online or physical unit guide, but also includes the actual literature/books to be read. 
While many of the literature titles are common and would be easy to find at the local library, I'm so glad we received the full packages.  It was wonderful to open the box and have everything I needed to teach right at my fingertips.  We received the physical unit guide with our Language Arts package, but utilized the online unit guide for our Science package. 
As a personal preference, I usually like hard copies best.  There's just something about having the spiral bound pages to thumb through that adds an element of ease.  However, because teacher and student share from the same book, I actually found that I preferred the online guide this time.  This is great for so many reasons...
1. It's cheaper (yay! for this frugal mom!) 
2. I could use the laptop as my teacher's guide and/or print the instruction pages I desired. 
3. I was able to print only the individual student pages that were needed. 
4. When my perfectionist child gets upset because something didn't turn out "just right," I can simply print another page opposed to deal with the tears and come up with a way to salvage the project. 
There were some prerequisites for using the Language Arts - Tornado unit including:
  • reading & comprehending chapter books at a third or early fourth grade level
  • answer comprehension questions in a daily journal
  • the ability to write three or four sentences about a topic
Because I was using this unit with my 6, 7, and 8 year olds, we did a little tweaking to make it work for us.  We used the literature as read-alouds.  Caleb did some of the reading (with help from Mom on a word here and there), and I read the remainder.  Instead of responding to the comprehension questions in writing, I used the prompts to guide our discussion.  As far as the writing activities, I only had Caleb complete these.  The suggested hamburger paragraph organizer really resonated with Caleb.  We'll continue to use this model in the days to come.  Rather than write, Jeremiah and Rachel did some drawings and narration.

Because my kids are animal lovers and are constantly trying to persuade me to cave in and let them have a dog, I knew they'd enjoy the story.  It also proved timely as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma made the news.  We collected items to send to the victims and the kids created encouragement cards too.  Getting to read a story that helped them to better understand a tornado and then explore some of the science behind the weather was very beneficial. 

**My only caution about this unit is to note that this company is secular.  Some may be concerned by the inclusion of How the Turtle Got Its Shell.  My kids understood that it was fiction, but also immediately picked up on the fact that it did not support our "young Earth" beliefs.  As always, just a chance for us to discuss what it is that we believe about creation science and why we believe it, so it didn't cause our family any problems at all.

The Science - Amazing Weather unit was also a hit.  We loved the accompanying books.  On the Same Day in March has darling illustrations, and the Weather and Climate - Geography Facts and Experiments is an excellent resource that we can continue to use in our studies.  In the weather unit, the kids learned about heat, wind, rain, weather patterns, weather vanes, etc.  We tracked and charted the weather which the kids had done before in their science co-op class.  We were able to compare the current weather with that of the weather in February and had a great discussion about seasonal effects on weather.  A new element for us with this study were the geographical terms and being able to aptly describe a landscape.  It is so fun now to hear the kids use this new terminology and vocabulary.

We enjoyed the titles we had the opportunity to review.  Whether using the curriculum exclusively or as a supplement, with all the choices, you may be a bit bewildered as to where to begin.  I recommend visiting the Choosing the Right Age Level page.  This will guide you in determining the right fit for your child.  Likewise, there are helpful pages for identifying what units make a perfect pairing.  To identify these suitable couplings, view the Year at a Glance page for each age range:  7-9, 8-10, 9-11, 10-12, and 11-13.  
Moving Beyond the Page curriculum offers so many extras.  Parents will want to access the online forum to connect with other homeschooling families.  It is a safe place to ask questions, seek support, and draw from the experience of others.  Additionally, IdeaShare is an online space to locate and share ideas to supplement or aide in teaching specific lessons. 
The Schoolhouse Review Crew Members used a wide variety of Moving Beyond the Page units.  You are sure to find a review of a unit that peaks your interest in all of the age ranges.  Click below to take a look!


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