Friday, August 23, 2013


 Doorposts Logo

I received a print version of Beauty in the Heart published by Doorposts in exchange for my honest review of the product.  Doorposts is a provider of biblical based parenting and character training materials.  They have products for young men, young women, husbands, fathers, mothers, and young children.  Specifically, Beauty in the Heart is a study of Godly beauty for young women ages 10-12 to adult.  

Ten chapters focus on:
  1. Beauty in Submission (a study of 1 Peter)
  2. Beauty in the Heart (a study of 1 Peter 3:3-4)
  3. Beauty in Trusting God (study of Sarah)
  4. Beauty in Humility (study of Esther)
  5. Beauty in Modesty (study of 1 Timothy 2:9-10)
  6. Beauty in Serving (topical study)
  7. Beauty without Discretion (study of Proverbs 11:22)
  8. Beauty in Crisis (study of 1 Samuel 25)
  9. Beauty in the Gates (study of Ruth)
  10. Beauty in Review

After a quick thumb through of the chapters, I decided to do the first chapter alone.  The study methods used in this chapter and throughout the book took me back to my younger days of being a Christian where I took the time to dig deeper in my bible study.  I’m sad to admit that I had to dust off the bible dictionary and commentary books that I haven’t used in let’s just say a long time.  I suppose I’ve gotten lazy in my approach to studying the Word of God.  There are so many resources available these days that do the work for you that I rarely do the hard work myself.  I can also get stuck in a rut in the way I approach the Word of God settling for reading and meditating or scripture memorization, instead of studying.  Not that what I already do isn’t important but I should always be looking to go deeper.  I am thankful this study reminded me of that.

Have you ever read something in the Bible and later tried to remember what you read?  The approach to studying that Beauty in the Heart incorporates eliminates that problem.  As much as I have read 1 Peter especially the commandment to wives being submissive to their own husbands, I’ve never focused on the whys of God’s commands to those who are under authority of any kind.  Filling out the charts in the book regarding the commands given in 1 Peter, left me thinking about the study days later.   These aren’t just commands to follow but the reasons in the bible for following the commands really drove the scripture’s meaning deep into my heart.    

The first chapter wasn’t a topic for MY 12 year old who was a part of reviewing this book.  With this particular child some things are better caught than taught.  She is an interest led learner.  I think she would have been lost in the lesson.  However, it would be much more effective for me to bring out the importance of submitting to any given authority in a moment of her not wanting to submit.   By contrast, I knew when I thumbed through the Esther study this was right up her alley.  Because she is a huge Esther fan, she paid very close attention to the hidden treasures in this study.  This is the first time she has used additional resources to study the bible (commentaries, etc.).  Let’s just say she isn’t always so eager to go the extra mile.  Nor is she enthusiastic about using multiple resources to complete an assignment but it is important she learns how to use these tools now. 
I really like that the margins include what you will need to do the study (i.e. a commentary, concordance), background information relevant to the study, suggestions for further study, and links for online commentaries, bibles, Greek/Hebrew translators.  There is a lot of good stuff in the margins.    

I am most grateful that this product incorporated additional study aids and cross references while studying a passage of scripture. 

My daughter said she didn’t learn anything new but reading her answers to the questions in the study tells me otherwise.  She was able to make connections by cross referencing scriptures and deciding how those scriptures related to her study.  She did say after doing the Esther study she feels as though Mordecai was the real hero not Esther.  That would make a good debate.

We will continue to work through the lessons in the book.  I wish there were other studies written in this way on various biblical topics. You can purchase the hard copy of Beauty in the Heart for $14.  Now through 8/31 you can receive an free instant download PDF copy of the book when you order a hard copy.  Or purchase just the ebook for $10.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

 One advantage of being a part of a really great homeschool group is getting wind of great opportunities for your child to participate in.

Today, my daughter spent 5 hours at Starbase, Winchester.  Starbase's goal is to raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  The class focused on aerospace engineering.  My girl is more interested in medical science but learning anything about science is a great opportunity.   They did many experiments and activities to include:  made a cushion car seat using a egg and various materials to launch in a plastic shuttle; lego rebotics; space communication using geometric shapes to simulate circuits; and a lot more.

The instructor is putting together another class with different experiments and we will definitely be there.  You can find out more here

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Zoo

So the weather in our area has been beautiful.  Low humidity, nice breeze, 70 degree weather so I decided to drive through the wonderful metro area traffic to get to the zoo.  After some creative parking we enjoyed 3 hours of animal watching and park walking.  The older and the younger kids enjoyed the day.  It is such a pleasure for me to see the youngest see the animals in real life that he's only seen on TV and in books.  His facial expression watching the lion roar was priceless.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

American the Beautiful

  photo notgrass_logo_zps18b23376.jpg

I had the pleasure of receiving for review America the Beautiful Curriculum Package by Notgrass Company.  The curriculum is a one year study of American History for grades 5-8.  It includes a student text (parts 1 & 2);  a hardcover collection of historical documents titled We The People; a 61 page book of 30 maps titled Maps of America the Beautiful; an illustrated timeline; and an answer key book for answers to all activities included for the timeline, student workbook, and assignments included in the main text.  Everything is included in this package for a thorough study of American history for $99.95. 
America the Beautiful student text part 1 includes 75 lessons beginning with the study of Native Americans through the Civil War.
America the Beautiful student text part 2 includes 75 lessons beginning with Western Expansion through Modern Times.

Each text contains 15 units.  Students are expected to read one lesson a day.  Many lessons will include a map number which corresponds to a map activity in the Maps of America the Beautiful book.  Students have several activities to work on at the end of each lesson.   They can pick and choose the activities they want to do or that you assign.  Some of these activities include readings from We the People, creative writing assignments, and vocabulary activities. 

America the Beautiful Lesson ReviewAmerica the Beautiful Student WorkbookNotgrass Company also sells a student workbook, and a lesson review book to further engage students in the study of the material.  The lesson review book has 5 comprehension questions for students to answer about the lesson and unit quizzes (1 units covers 5 lessons).   The lesson review book is a consumable book and retails for $9.95.  The student workbook is a fun collection of crosswords, fill in the blank, word searches, and puzzles that reinforce the lessons in the student text.  It is designed for younger students or any age student who enjoys these activities (kids like mine)!  The student workbook retails for $11.95.
One last optional add-on to this curriculum is the literature package.  The books included in the literature package include (as listed at
    America the Beautiful Literature Package
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Units 4-5)
  • Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Units 6-7)
  • Brady by Jean Fritz (Units 9-10)
  • Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen (Units 12-13)
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (Units 14-15)
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Units 16-17)
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Units 19-20)
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates (Units 21-22)
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey (Unit 25)
  • Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass (Units 29-30)
The literature option is included in the list of activities students can complete at the end of each lesson. You can purchase the literature package from Notgrass Company for $59.95.

Here is what I love about this curriculum:
  • It includes beautiful illustrations in each lesson.  My 2.5 year old foster son flipped through many of the pages fascinated with the animal pictures.
  • There are multiple options for reinforcement and further investigation
  • Incorporation of primary source material in We the People
  • The inclusion of real books (literature package)
  • Each lesson is focused, doesn’t overload student with too much information
  • biblical tie-ins when applicable
I enjoy the fact that the entire curriculum can be used as written but there is also room for pulling out topics for study without losing cohesion and comprehension.  For example, one lesson from part 2 of the student text was on the US Mint and the 50 state quarters program started by President Clinton.  My daughter started collecting the state coins months ago for fun but we really didn’t know the origin and meaning behind the coins.  We learned a great deal from this unit and the corresponding activities.  That was a nice surprise within the text. It was cool to see a picture of each coin so she knows what to look out for to complete her collection.

Another lesson we enjoyed was a WWII lesson about the authors' own father.  It was a personal account of the father's service complete with his travels around the US and Europe and how he found his wife in England.  It was such a heart-warming story that left an imprint on my mind and made the war effort a real event in our nation's history.

I only have one student who fits the grade level for this curriculum.  I really want to use it from beginning to end but I don’t know how to include it in our plans.  I hadn’t planned to revisit American history until high school with this student.  My 11th grader will be using the Notgrass American high school curriculum this coming year.  Additionally, we’ve also used the World History highschool curriculum by Notgrass.  I highly recommend all of these products although they don’t include all the fun extras (maps, timeline, student workbook) that this curriculum includes.   

 Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

My thoughts on homeschooling high school...

Seems like most moms begin their homeschool journey from the beginning. Not me.  The first student came home 2nd semester 7th grade and the others followed in 4th & 6th grade so I didn't have time to fear high school it was knocking down the door from the very beginning.

I had a friend come by this week looking at our high school materials and I shared some of my record keeping methods with her for high school.  She asked "but aren't you scared sometimes."  My answer was no. I can't say I wasn't ever a little worried but reading blogs and forums about other moms who'd been there done that was very reassuring.  These moms had homeschool graduates already in college with scholarships and some had graduates in great careers.  I figured if they had done it, I could do it too.

Here is advice #1 for any parent considering home school high school:

  • research, read,, books, university websites.  More colleges have catered their admission processes to homeschoolers because more of us are applying to college.
  • have a goal, and have a plan - EARLY.
  • seek out opportunities for your high schooler.
  • be flexible, and don't be afraid to change your mind.
The journey with Princess has been wonderful.  She loves homeschooling but she has had the privilege of experiencing public and private school.  She knows the good, bad, and the ugly.  She prefers her current situation.  One time while riding in the car she thanked me for homeschooling her.  She said it has given her the opportunity to rebuild her confidence.  The conversation brought tears to my eyes.

Having watched her over the last few years, I see that confidence.  I see her comfortable in her own skin.  She is no longer shy or afraid to express herself and communicate her ideas.   Just this past summer while participating in AdCamp (I blogged about it here), the college instructor facilitating the group made mention of Princess' ability to work well in a group.  She said "she listens to everyone, and synthesizes the information to come to one conclusion."  Proud mama moment right there.

I have two high schoolers this coming school year.  They are very different in skill, ability, and personality.  I pray for wisdom on how to steer them and for partnerships that will help sharpen their gifts and talents.   I am grateful for the opportunity to homeschool them.  I believe the future is very bright.  I take no all belongs to the giver of all wisdom and knowledge.  All good and perfect gifts come from Him.

Based on my own advice here is some specifics I've done to make homeschooling high school a blast:

1.  Based my graduation standards on my state's requirements for an advanced diploma.  You can find this at your state's department of education website.
2.  Even though the advanced diploma was my initial goal, based on my student's career aspirations I've eliminated the usual math/science sequence in favor of other courses yet to be determined.  FLEXIBILITY is key.
3.  Utilized homeschool co-ops and outside vendors to vary learning environments and to give student the ability to learn in different settings. Read about one such vendor here.
4.  Plan to use community college dual enrollment and public school part-time enrollment in latter high school years.  I know my own limitations. :)
5.  Beef up volunteerism and seek out opportunities to allow my student to shine in this area.
6.  Use summers to explore career aspirations including summer employment.

Have fun being creative and making your homeschool high school years the best for your student.

Be sure to visit all of the blog posts listed below and link up your own high school post.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Family photos!

Sometimes I read back over my blog entries.  I get a kick out of our happenings and get to correct grammatical mistakes I overlooked. :)  Also I see where I hadn't updated posts I promised to make an update on.

So remember the family photos I blogged about earlier in the summer?  You can find that post here.

Well I didn't post any of the pics except for the updated intro pics of my girls on the home page.  So without further ado here are a few shots:

Little House of the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder

 To say that our family is a Little House on the Prairie fan is an understatement.  So when I got an opportunity to review Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder DVD from Legacy Documentaries I jumped at the chance. We own several seasons of Little House on DVD and borrow others from family members who own the series as well.  We know the stories well as depicted by the TV show but to know the story behind the story is icing on the cake.
20130807_145307.jpgThere were many aha moments as we viewed the life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Understanding her upbringing, family relationships, hardships and victories makes you appreciate her books so much more.

As the DVD mentions, the stories written by Mrs. Wilder tell of a simpler time where family, courage, hope and love were important.  Little House stories are heartwarming and inspiring.  I dare say they offer many lessons we can use today in teaching our children.  Lessons based on truth and love and where church and community played a central role in people's lives.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the DVD:

"If you have no one raising the children you have no transfer of culture." - Tanya Hart, Asst. Professor of History, University of Kansas.  Professor Hart was speaking of the role pioneer women played on the American frontier alongside their husbands.  Mrs. Wilder brought this character to life in her books.

The DVD is approximately 75 minutes in length and takes you through:
  • the beginning of Mrs. Wilder's life with her husband, Almanzo Wilder, which was marked by struggle & hardship as they attempted to live as farmers
  • their eventual success at farming in Mansfield, Missouri 
  • her success as a newspaper columnist about agriculture and farm life in Mansfield
  • her up and down relationship with her daughter Rose who edited her writing
  • the motivation and influence of each book written in the Little House series
After writing the final book in the Little House series, Mrs. Wilder spent her latter years traveling with Almanzo and entertaining guests at Rocky Ridge farm.  Her books were translated for readers around the world and adapted for TV and stage.  What I find most remarkable is the US government used her final book to help foreigners understand American values.  What a testament to Mrs. Wilder's ability to capture the American spirit in her novels.

Although we enjoy the TV series, the DVD motivates me to read every book in the series.  It is highly recommended for fans of all ages.  It is $24.95 and can be purchased at Legacy Documentary.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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