Monday, August 31, 2015

2015-2016 School Year - Plan of Attack

Continuing with the school theme for another Monday, today I want to share with you the curriculum we have chosen to use this year.  Because I have been doing this homeschooling thing for over 17 years now and because I review homeschooling products on the side, we have come in contact with a lot of great, and a few no so great materials.  We have even come to realize that some things we have used have been great for one child, but not the best fit for another.  After all, I have four very different children with different strengths and weaknesses, not to mention different learning styles.

What does that mean for us?

It means that planning for every new school year takes some work on my part.  I pull out the specific grades' storage bins, remind myself of what I have and then decide what will or will not work for that particular child.  I make a list of the things I need to change and then get busy ordering if the need arises. Luckily for me, I often review new products that I set aside once our review period is over to use in a new school year cycle.

This year is a year of several changes for us but I am excited to officially get started in another week!  I will have to let you know what the boys think! ;)

3rd grade-

READING- Sonlight Literature
  Colby likes to read, so this "just" read a book and answer questions orally method works for us.

GRAMMAR- BJU English 3 and Evan-Moor Daily Language Review, Grade 3
     The reason we chose BJU this year was that I like how the chapters alternate between writing and grammar.  For my active child, it helps cut down on the monotony he is prone to experience.  We are using the daily review as part of his independent time.  Though it only takes him a few minutes to do, I am hoping it will help give him some confidence to begin doing some school independently.

SPELLING- All About Spelling, Level 4
  Admittedly, Colby is a good speller, but this program just calls his name!  It is active and hands on enough to keep him engaged.

MATH- Teaching Textbooks, Math 3
  In the past we have used Saxon until about 5th grade, but I do not think this child could stand another year of it- he just wasn't challenged enough!  I did get the hard copy of the text, but I am betting he will use and love the CD on the computer the most.

HISTORY- Veritas Press Self Paced History- New Testament Greece and Rome
  This we actually started at the beginning of the summer, taking a few weeks off here and there.  I NEVER thought when we reviewed this program last year that this would become one of our all time favorite curriculums.  We walked away from a history curriculum we had happily used for years because Colby just cannot get enough of it.  He has learned so much from Veritas and continues to be as excited about it today, a year later, as he was when we first tried it.  If you are not familiar with Veritas Self Paced History, I encourage you to read our review!

SCIENCE- Nancy Larson Science 2 and 3
  Yes, you read that correctly.  We are planning to use two levels this year.  Colby really enjoyed level one last year but tends to ask to do several lessons in one sitting, so I know we can cover two levels this year.  While this does not come from a Creationist point of view, I am comfortable with the information Nancy provides because we do it together.  I LOVE that it is an all-in-one boxed kit.  It makes planning ahead NOT necessary and the lessons fun!

BIBLE- Grapevine Studies
  This will be our first year using Grapevine, but so far I like what I see!  Another program we highly recommend is Bible Study Guide for All Ages, especially if you are schooling multiple ages at one time.

GEOGRAPHY-Evan-Moor Daily Geography Practice 3
  I know, I know, a third grader doesn't necessarily need geography, but this simple little workbook is again a chance for Colby to gain confidence in doing school independently. Plus, who doesn't like playing with maps?

SPANISH- Flip Flop Spanish
  Yes, we have done this before, but because of the timing of our review we never finished the complete program.  It is fun and active and a great fit for my hands-on kid, so we are excited about doing it again.  We have a ton of Spanish resources we will use to supplement if needed.

8th Grade-

READING- Lightning Literature-
  We reviewed this and loved it, so we put it aside to continue this year.

WRITING- Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) Student Writing Intensive
  There is just no better writing program out there than IEW!  I do like to save it for upper middle school and lower high school grades.

SPELLING- IEW's Phoentic Zoo, Level B
  We are getting ready to begin and review this product.  It is my prayer that because it has a large auditory based style it will be the answer to our poor spelling problems.  Stay tuned.

  Great, simple program.  Salem did the online version last year but chose to use the workbook this year.

GRAMMAR- Easy Grammar Plus, East Grammar Ultimate Series 8th grade and IEW's Fix It
  Yes, I know this may seem like overkill (please do not tell my son) but since this may be his last formal year of basic grammar, I want to make sure he has got it down to a science!  I was going to stop using Fix It for a while, but since we have seen some good progress with the program I decided it was just too good not to finish.

MATH- UnLock Math Pre Algebra
  We have used Teaching Textbooks at this level with much success, but after doing this review recently, Salem chose to stick with it.  Alecia is a great teacher and Salem really likes her teaching style.  When a child asks you to do a specific math, just go with it!

HISTORY- Sonlight
  After many years of using Sonlight for History, two years ago we changed to Notgrass after reviewing their America the Beautiful program.  We are returning to Sonlight just for the year because I love the books used in their American History- Core 100 program.  We are going to use this year as a "bonus" in History, and return to Notgrass for Salem's high school years. Yes, sometimes there are so many good programs out there that it is hard to decide which to use.  Unless you are me, and you choose to use them all! ;)

HEALTH- Total Health
  All kids needs some basic health lessons in my opinion.  Boys especially! ;)

BIBLE- Apologia's Who is My Neighbor?
We used this series as a review item twice now, and are going back to finish this book!  We love it!

GEOGRAPHY- Memoria Press Geography II
  We reviewed this geography several years ago and I just happened upon the new level again this year.  Salem liked that it was fairly simple and straight to the point, but also used maps and taught some neat facts about the different countries.  It is a nice solid program that doesn't take up too much time, but teaches good material.

SCIENCE- Apologia's Physical Science
  Why try to fix what is not broken, right?  Plus, we are blessed that a friend does labs with several kiddos twice a month.  She is my hero!

SPANISH- Classical Academic Press- Spanish for Children, Primer A
  There are a lot of good programs out there for Spanish, but we really like that this one has video teaching, listening CDs, and very strong grammar-based lessons.  You can begin it at a younger age, but we decided to use it for 8th and 9th grade then move on to three more years at a higher level.

Wow, are you tired?  I am!  But I am also very excited too.  Mark your calendars- September 7th starts our week one of Sabbath Week Schooling for 2015-1016!

Join us on September 7th as some friends join us to show you what different homeschoolers' days REALLY look like!  You just might be surprised!

Linking up with friends-

My Joy-Filled Life

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

I Choose Joy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Writing with Sharon Watson- Crew Review

We've had the pleasure of reviewing a Writing with Sharon Watson product called Writing Fiction in High School before and we truly loved it.   So when the opportunity arose to review a second product from her, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, I may just have jumped up and down yelling pick me, pick me!  My 17 daughter, who is a junior but technically done with high school, even eagerly agreed to go through it for me.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

When Worlds Collide is a literature program written for Christian High Schools and Homeschools.  It focuses on 8 books-

Pudd'nhead Wilson
The War of the Worlds
The Friendly Persuasion
Peter Pan
Warriors Don't Cry
A Tale of Two Cities
Fahrenheit 451
The Screwtape Letters.

We were provided with the Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teacher's GuideWhen Worlds Collide Student Book, free download of The Student Novel NotebookWhen Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manuel and the books Pudd'nhead Wilson and The War of the Worlds, neither of which my daughter had read!

The glory of homeschooling- reading anywhere!

In the When Worlds Collide Student Book, each Unit begins with a section called Before You Read the Book.  This section talks about the author as well as any historical context your student may need to know.  Following this section are several lessons to prepare your student for literary concepts they will encounter in each specific book.  After those initial lessons are completed, it is time to read.  Sharon gives a loose weekly lesson plan to help you schedule your chapter reading.  Once the reading is complete, your student then moves on to additional lessons.  These lessons include quizzes, review questions about the literary concepts as well as review questions about the book, and then ends with activities to choose from to complete the book study.  Examples of literary concepts discussed are alliteration, irony, satire, plot stages, hyperbole and more. Activities for each book vary, but include things like short story writing, book and movie comparisons and research and essay writing. Your student is encouraged to choose one.  Each book and its corresponding lessons are completed in four weeks.

The Novel Notebook, a free downloadable PDF file is a fun addition, though not required.  It is used during the reading portion of the study to help your child focus on the story in more detail.  In the notebook, or a composition book if you choose, they will record things like their favorite passages, quotes, examples of the literary devices they have learned, things they liked and parts they disliked.  Think of it as a personal journal of sorts where your child is free to think outside the box critique and even dream.

The Teachers Book has the answers and everything else you may want or need to know.  I have never seen a teacher's guide that is so thorough.  It guides you to lead an individual through the course as well as a group, whether in a class setting or as a reading group.  It has background information, fun facts to share, teaching hints and discussion starters,  and even quotes and links to share with your students.  Grading grids are provided to help you in grading as well as fun treat ideas to provide a little fun in between the work.

The When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manuel provides two quizzes and an opinion survey for each book.  The first quiz is a "Yes, I read it" quiz with multiple choice questions pertaining to the book.  The second quiz is a "Literary Terms" quiz, that tests the students comprehension of the literary terms that have been learned in the study of each particular book.  It too, is multiple choice.  The Opinion Survey for each book is an ungraded quiz that allows your child to express their opinions, but also in a multiple choice format.  Your child can take the quizzes online if you prefer and they will automatically be graded for you.  If you choose that option, an email will be sent to them with their grade and a full report of the questions they got right and wrong.

Doesn't every teen do homework in Disney Minnie ears?

How we used this program-
Because of the age of my daughter, she did do all of this program independently, with me just spot checking her work occasionally.  The program is written with the student in mind and is easy to follow, which is one of the reasons we like Writing With Sharon Watson products so much.  It is my opinion that once your children hit the high school level, they should be self motivated enough to work independently, as well as use products that teach them how to follow directions and learn on their own.  By all means, we should know what are kids are working on, but by the time they are teens, teaching independence is a skill that will behoove them.

Riley therefore followed the suggested schedule in the student book, filled out the Novel Notebook while she read and did all of the quizzes on her own.  She completed the first book, Pudd'nhead Wilson, and all the related quizzes and activities in four weeks.  She is now ready to begin War of the Worlds.

What we thought- In Riley's own words-
I like that Mrs. Watson picked a wide range of authors and genres and they are not all the typical novels that everyone reads.  I also like that she writes conversationally without dumbing things down!

As for me, well, YES, I love this program!  Like others that Sharon has written it is fun and engaging while being a good, solid, unapologetically Christian worldview program.  I love that it it asks deep, thought provoking questions, and yet encourages a little fun like themed based snack ideas if you are hosting a group of students.  I love that it encourages reading good literature and helps students think outside the box while analyzing that literature.  I also love that the activities offered at the end of each book are interesting and varied to fit many students' needs and learning style.  It it not just a one fits all approach.  Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide is well written, well organized, and a joy to use!
Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Now THAT is a good Literature curriculum, don't you think?  Plus now through August 31st, you can use the code HM3US4QH  to get 20% off this program!

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Numbers and Atoms- Homeschooling High School

Welcome back to another month of our Homeschool High School Blog Hop!  I hope by now you have found some inspiration in the months previous as well as lots of ideas.  This month's theme is
Math and Science, so hang on to your hats!

I wish I could tell you these are easy subjects for us, but that would not be true.  As a matter of fact, it seems they are difficult ones for many people.  The good news is there are plenty of good resources and curriculum out there to use.  Before I share with you the ones we use and recommend, let me start with some basic information for you.

The first place you want to start is with planning what your child will take throughout their high school career.  This is a time that planning ahead will help you greatly!  Even if you are not sure what specific curriculum you will use, go on and know what you will have your child take.

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015Most states require at least three maths and three sciences to graduate.  In addition, that is also what many colleges require for admittance as well.  If your child already knows where they would like to go to school, do some research and make sure you are on the right path.  I would also recommend that you think about what your child's strengths are.  If they are interested in a science or math field, things like nursing or engineering, then it would be a good idea to go on and plan for 4 years of each subject!

So here is what we use-

Math- Teaching Textbooks
We plan on Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  We have used Saxon in the past, but found our kids do better with the Teaching Textbooks for several reasons, including the video instruction.  If you have an auditory learner I would highly recommend this program.
We also add Math You See's Consumer Math in our schedule.  I love that it comes with a devotional and teaches some basic practical skills like check writing and car insurance. Simple to use but good information in it!

Science- Apologia
We always have the kids cover Physical Science, Biology (with lab) and Chemistry (with lab).  Again, if your child is science minded, you will also probably want to add in Physics.  Let me know and I will pray for you! ;)  I do allow our children to choose one other science of their choice.  So far one had chosen Human Anatomy and the other Marine Biology, both from Apologia. It will be interesting to see what my boys choose when the time comes.

Well, that pretty much covers science and math for us.  Pretty simple and I am sure there are many other amazing options out there, but this is what has worked for us.  Be sure to hop on over to the other blogs listed to see what others use!

Home School High School Hosts Share this Month:

See ya back next month as we discuss Language Arts!


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe

If you aren't familiar with Capsule Wardrobing, Ashton's previous post and another one I wrote about a two season wardrobe plus this post about it are good places to start.  While we know summer is almost over in some parts of the world, we still have a few months left here for mostly warmer weather so we wanted to share with you Ashton's summer capsule before we jump to her fall one in October, as well as my Fall/Winter one.  

So here is Ashton-

Hey! So...I know I've talked about capsule wardrobes before but I haven't alked about how I transition from one season's wardrobe to another. So here you go! I first took out all of the things I knew I wouldn't be keeping out for the next season and put them away.  I then got out all of the clothes for the season I was transitioning to along with what was left from the previous season and put it on the floor. 

Then I look at every piece and put what I really loved, what fit, and what was flattering back in the closet, and put away, donated, or gave away the rest. That left me with a closet of clothes that I love to wear.

This is what I had at the start of the summer:
13 Shirts
4 Button-downs
3 Light Jackets
3 Cardigans
5 Dresses
6 Skirts
2 Pairs of Jeans
1 Pair of Capris
For a total of 37 items. 

I do have a confession, I have added and gotten rid of a few pieces since then, but my count is about the same. For me, it isn't about an exact number and I don't include shoes or accessories in my count. My goal is to only be wearing what I love, what fits, and what is flattering on me.

Just for fun, here are some outfits mom and I styled, each set showing one piece used two different ways!
I hope this quick look into how I transition between seasons helps you and maybe the links will even inspire you to start your own capsule wardrobes! Please let us know if you do, we would love to hear about it! -Ashton 

Linking up with friends!-

Friday, August 21, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean! Week 34- The Finale!

When we started 34 Weeks of Clean 34 weeks ago, it was truly not a challenge just for you.  It was was for me as well.  I knew that the timing was perfect for cleaning and organizing while my husband was away for the year.  It would give me something to do to pass the time productively, it would allow us time to get prepared for our upcoming move in December, and it would give me a community to connect with.  I'm happy to say that it did accomplish all three of those things!  And while the clean and organized house makes me want to cheer, it is the community of friends I have made along the way that have blessed me the most!  You all have made this journey fun and have encouraged me in some pretty dark days and I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

In addition to the simple art of cleaning and organizing, I hope these are some takeaways you also got from this journey-

Our stuff does not make us who we are!
Memories are best held in our hearts, not in our things!
Everything has a home!  If not, get rid of it!
Before you buy something, ask yourself, is it useful and do I really need it?
If you love it, use it, and would buy it again, keep it.  If not, out it goes!
One person's trash is another person's treasure!  Be willing to share!
Five minutes of pick up a day will keep your house cleaner than you think!
The less you have, the easier it is to be organized.  Declutter!
Buying more containers does not amount to less stuff!

So where do we go from here?  Now that you should have a relatively clean and organized house, I am going to let you in on a little secret.

 It will not stay that way without a little effort!

So what's a girl to do?  Rinse and repeat!

Maybe you do not need to start again tomorrow, but you will probably need to start again at some point, sooner than later.  I already know several areas in my own home that need some attention!

To help you get ready to begin again, Kemi from Homemaking Organized has graciously put together a 34 Weeks of Clean ebook for you to follow.  This ebook is FREE to subscribers of Family, Faith, and Fridays Blog as well as anyone who actively participated in our 34 Weeks of Clean Series.  Just shoot me an email, and I will be happy to provide the link for you!

A BIG thank you to all who participated!  It has been so much fun to interact with you and to see your successes.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

From Kemi-
As we end the 34 Weeks of Clean Challenge with Michele I'm actually sad to see it go. Even though some weeks I didn't get to the challenge or I would get really behind on the current challenge what this project served to do in my home was to get me back on track to regular deep cleaning. Not just daily cleaning. 
In the past several years a couple of moves have upset my neatly orchestrated deep cleaning schedule and and left me floundering to keep up. I always meant to get it together and adjust but never seemed to. 
After tackling each room in our home these past 34 Weeks we have made several updates and completed quite a few home projects. Sure there is still much to be done but progress is made.
Another thing that came out of this challenge was the idea of a simple of ebook so that you (and I) can reboot our homes in 34 weeks. Now what about the other 18 weeks in the year? Well since this challenge ends right before the new school year happens my tip is to focus on back to school and the holiday season and then get ready to dive back in come next January. Hopefully we can talk Michele into hosting it again ;)
The winner of our 34 Weeks of Clean Prize Basket will be announced on the blog on Monday!
Until then, you have the weekend off of cleaning! ;)


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work - Book Review

The National Center for Biblical Parenting is all about encouraging and equipping parents to raise their children with sound biblical principles.  By shaping and training the heart rather than just changing behaviors, this group allows parents to mold their children and point them to the cross.

One of the latest projects for The National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) is the Parent Training Center Initiative. By teaming up with The National Center for Biblical Parenting, churches across the country can commit to becoming Parent Training Centers, coming alongside parents to support them and provide biblical resources for them. Once a church has committed to becoming a Training Center several things will happen.

First, the church must learn and agree with the theology behind the program.  Next, they will identify key leaders who will become parent resource people.  Those leaders will establish communication with and identify interested parents within their church and community. The NCBP will come alongside the church providing resources, email tips, mentoring, online support, and live seminars.  The cost to become a Parent Training Center is $200.00 for the first year and $100.00 each additional year, with many resources included!

One of the resources used by NCBP and Parent Training Centers is the book Parenting is Heart Work and their newest addition, Parenting is Heart Work Training Manual.  Just like the other books I have had the privilege of reading and using in our own family, Parenting is Heart Work is changing the way we parent.  Written by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, this book helps you see the need for reaching and changing the heart of your child, not just their behavior.

We have used rewards and consequences for years in our parenting and yes, it often works.  But what we have seen is that as kids get older, that type of discipline is just not as effective anymore.

 "If behavior modification is the focus...determined children learn to get what they want." p.57

It is easy for a child who is standing next to you choose the right behavior when you are there to monitor them or, even more so, when they think they will get something for their right choices. However, the trick is, will they make that same right choice without mom and dad standing by?  Do they have in their heart the right motives it will take to choose right from wrong?  Have they learned to follow the Holy Spirit's leading rather than just the voice of mom and dad?

That is where Parenting is Heart Work can help you!  In 4 parts and broken into 16 chapters, Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller will lay the foundations of their book and then teach you many techniques to help change the way you parent.  One of the things I love best about this book are the many examples given of real families who face the same challenges we do.  Oh, how nice to know you are not alone in the parenting trenches!  Paired with Scripture, stories from the Bible will give you confidence and equip you to become a better parent.  It will help you look at not just your child's behavior, but the heart behind those behaviors and allow you to speak truth into their lives.  Each of the four sections begins begins with a story from the Bible and each chapter ends with a prayer to help you focus on the work at hand!

Sections include-
Understanding the Heart
Connecting With Your Child's Heart
Working Out Heart Change
Touching Your Child's Heart

Personally, I have gathered a lot of new information from this book and am slowly incorporating it into how I deal with our children, especially our youngest.  One of my favorite concepts is that of a "break," rather than a time out.  It is a time of reflection rather than of punishment.  By telling my son "you need to take a break and change your heart and then come back to me when you are ready" we have had a positive change in the way we communicate. It also gives us both a time to cool off and regroup.  Once he chooses to return from his break we discuss what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and what he can do differently the next time.  I had some resistance as we began this new interaction, but he is slowly getting the message that I mean business and starting to better be able to process and take responsibility for his own actions.  We end with a "go ahead and try again" and a hug which I think makes him feel empowered, something that is important for his strong will personality.

I think Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller say it perfectly-

"There's much at stake in raising children.  When we take a heart approach to parenting, we partner with God in raising a future generation." p.15

I can't think of a better partner, can you?


Monday, August 17, 2015

Writing With Sharon Watson iPad mini and Literature Giveaway

Through our years of homeschooling, going on 17 now, we have used a lot of different Literature programs.  A lot!  And many of them have been good.  But recently I have discovered Sharon Watson and found that not only can literature programs be good, but they can also be fun!  Illuminating Literature:When Worlds Collide, meant for highschoolers, is one of those programs and the newest Sharon Watson product we are reviewing.  Be sure to check in later this week to read my full review, but for now- how about a chance to win an iPad mini and a great Sharon Watson resource bundle!?  I can't win, but maybe you will!

Writing with Sharon Watson Illuminating Literature iPad Mini GiveawayTo celebrate the release of Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, we are joining with Writing with Sharon Watson to bring you an incredible giveaway!  One of you may win ALL of the following prizes, a value of nearly $450:

Apple iPad Mini 16GB, WiFi Only ($329 value)

  • 7.9-inch LED-backlit Multi-Touch Display; 1024-by-768 Resolution
  • Apple iOS 6; Dual-Core A5 Chip 1GHZ
  • 5 MP iSight Camera; 1080p HD Video Recording
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n); 16 GB Capacity
  • Up to 10 Hours of Battery Life; 0.68 lbs

Illuminating Literature Curriculum Set ($64.47 value)

Literature in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere . . .

Your teens will appreciate the unstuffy way Sharon Watson teaches literature. They’ll read some great novels, encounter the hero’s journey, learn literary terms and elements, and gain an appreciation for fine literature. More important, eager and reluctant readers will become more discerning as they learn the secret craft of the writer. Prepare your teens for college literature courses and for the rest of their reading life.
  • Written for Christian high schools, homeschools, and co-ops.
  • Two-semester course earning one credit for language arts or English.
  • 70 lessons.
  • Student-directed, with clear lessons and reading schedules.

Illuminating Literature 8-Book Bundle ($52.84 value)

This book bundle includes the following books used in Illuminating Literature:
  • Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  Writing with Sharon Watson Illuminating Literature Facebook Party
   To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below, then  join us for a Facebook Release Party on Thursday, August 27 at 9pm ET when the winner will be announced. 

RSVP for the Facebook Party

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Writing with Sharon Watson email list.


Planning and Organizing Our Day (And book giveaway!)

For many of you, school has already started.  Backpacks are packed, lunches are made, and notebooks have been bought.  Usually, the same is true here.  Well, minus the backpacks and lunches!  For as long as I can remember we have started back to school with our new grades in August.  This year, well, let's just say we are a little distracted with Dad coming home for two weeks.

Sometimes distraction is good! ;)

But, as soon as he heads out again, the school bell is going to ring!  And we are ready.  Mostly!

On the 31st I am going to share what we will be using for curriculum this year, but today I want to talk to you a little about how we plan and organize our year.  Each year looks a little different, but here are some things that work for us.

A loose schedule.  For many years we ran a pretty tight ship around here.  As a matter of fact, by using the ideas found in the Titus 2 Ministries book,  Managers of Their Schools, we had our day very well planned.  I loved it!  Teri, a fellow homeschooling mom of 8, has a great chart method and color coding system to help you find the best schedule for your family.  Her book also includes other wonderful tips that helped keep me sane when I was schooling four kids and I think her book should be required reading for all homeschoolers, new and veterans alike!  Teri has graciously offered to give one of our readers a FREE copy of Managers of Their Schools.  You can enter to win with the rafflecopter at the end of this post!

Now that I am down to teaching one 3rd grader and supervising an 8th grader who is overall pretty self-sufficient, we are a little more relaxed.  The plan is to start school by 9 every morning, breaking for lunch at noon, and then resuming school until about 3 or 4.  Our Fridays are lighter work days with only a few subjects taught.

Sabbath Week Scheduling- This worked so well for us last year that we will do it again.  The premise is schooling for 6 weeks and then taking a week off to rest and regroup.  That week is a great time for field trips, vacations, and projects around the house. Things may get a little crazy around our move time, but we will do the best we can!

Assignment notebook- We have used a fancy planner in the past.  Several actually.  They never seem to fit our exact needs and become burdensome when everyone's assignments are in one place that is in my possession.  It makes for a lot of back and forth finding mom and the planner which just discourages everyone.  So this year, it is back to a simple spiral notebook.  Nothing fancy, just practical.  Each night I will write the child's assignments in the notebook under the correct date and they will check off the box when they complete each assignment.  Yep, that is it.  I have learned after 16 years of homeschooling that it is futile for us to plan more than one day at a time anyway,  Life happens and I get tired of erasing well laid plans in frustration and discouragement,  This way, each night I spend 10 minutes writing down the next day's assignments.  It also allows me the chance to check up after each child and monitor their progress.

Color Coding.  This may seems silly to you, but it was a God-send to us last year so we are doing it again.  Plus, it is fun!  Each child is assigned a color and their notebooks and such are all that particular color.  No confusion for them, easy for me to find their stuff at a glance, and no arguing over whose is whose (I have two boys remember?!).  On the first day of school I have all of their new stuff sitting on the table for them with a few surprises.  Word of warning- black is NOT the best color to choose!  Finding notebooks was easy- after that, I had to be creative.  Luckily, Salem does not care nearly as much as Colby!

Anything else?  Oh, I am sure I will think of something last minute- I always do!  Until then, we are trying to enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Happy schooling!

And don't forget to enter to win a copy of Managers of Their Schools!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up with friends-


My Joy-Filled Life

On September 8th, this post will be linked with the Carnival of Homeschooling!  Be sure to check out all of the posts to help motivate you in your homeschooling!  September's posts will be hosted by Nerd Family!


Friday, August 14, 2015

34 weeks of Clean! Week 33- The Cars

OK, OK, I know your cars are not technically a part of your house, but let's face it, many of us spend enough time there to count them as such, right?  Between groceries and appointments, children and friends, we spend a lot of time in our cars.

And like anything else, time and lots of kids takes its toll on our vehicles.  Honestly, it is not usually a big deal to me.  But, it is a big deal to my sweet husband, so I do try to keep a handle on the chaos. We keep a car organizer on the back of the seat for my youngest's books and such and we do tend to have a plastic bag hanging for trash.  But past that, well, life happens!

Once again, my amazing father-in-law came to the rescue this past month and rallied the troops to get the car cleaned up, inside and out.   Now the trick is to keep it clean 'til my hubby gets home! ;)

A quick checklist for you-
  • Empty all trash bags or just get rid of all the trash you have on the floor and everywhere else!
  • Take out all car mats and wash down.
  • Vacuum the floorboards.
  • Wipe down all surfaces.
  • Wipe down all windows inside.
  • Wash outside of car, including tires!

  • Check tire pressure while you are there! ;)
One of the things we always keep in our cars is an emergency car kit.  It hold simple things like a first aid kit, extra clothes, blankets, jumper cables, and such.  You just never know when you will be stranded and our motto is better safe than sorry!  To help you out, Kemi from Homemaking Organized has made a FREE printable Emergency Car Kit checklist.

That's it!  Pretty simple, huh?  And it will make the men in your life smile for some reason, go figure!
Well my friends, we have almost come to the end of the road with 34 Weeks of Clean!  I cannot even believe that the time is almost done.  Next week we are going to do a wrap up, talk to you about the e-book Kemi is working on for you, and announce the winner of our 34 Weeks of Clean Prize Basket.

Add your links of your garages for one last time for more entries!

Week 32- The Garage

Week 34- The Finale


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Parenting is Heart Work Canon Powershot Camera and More Giveaway!

As part of the Parenting is Heart Work Blogging team, I am excited to be able to offer you one more fun giveaway!  My review of Parenting is Heart Work will go up next week, but until then, take my word for it and know IT IS GOOD!  You need to buy it! ;)  And just recently added is the new companion resource, The Parenting is Heart Work Training Manuel.  I had the privilege of sitting in on a webinar and listening to Dr. Turansky speak of both these books and the Parent Training Centers they are currently establishing all over the United States and I can tell you, there is some wonderful work being done by The National Center for Biblical Training!

 But first, how about try to win it, in addition to an Amazon gift card, a Cannon camera and more!?  Quick, there are just a few more days left to enter!

Heart Parenting Giveaway We are back with another great giveaway from the folks at the National Center for Biblical Parenting. This one is for the parents and includes a great little camera, as well as a $50 Amazon gift card! Here's what your church could win: 

Parenting Is Heart Work ($15 value)

This foundational parenting book starts with a study of the 750 times the word “heart” is used in the Bible. That changes everything. God’s Word reveals new insight into strategies for change in a person’s life. Concordia University’s Family Ministry Program requires that every student read Parenting is Heart Work. Dr. Ben Freudenburg says, “This is our go-to book for parenting. It’s biblical practical approach is powerful.”

Parenting Is Heart Work Training Manual ($50 value)

The Heart Work Training Manual with Audio Sessions is designed to help you integrate key success principles into your family. Answer the questions in the lesson, look up the scriptures, reflect on the teaching, and watch yourself make significant changes in the ways you relate. When parents change, children change. You’ll love the difference.

Canon Powershot ELPH 170 IS ($150 value) 

High quality still images and video are practically effortless with the slim and stylish new PowerShot ELPH 170 IS camera. The ideal tool for capturing everything from daily fun to special occasions, it's equipped with a powerful 12x Optical Zoom for maximum versatility, plus Intelligent IS to make images clear and almost shake-free even at high zoom lengths. Sharp, high-resolution imaging is fast and easy thanks to the 20.0 Megapixel* sensor and DIGIC 4+ Image Processor. Beautiful 720p HD video is as simple as pressing a button, while Smart AUTO intelligently selects just the right camera settings based on predefined shooting situations, so all different types of shots come out perfectly. 

Amazon $50 Gift Card

A fun gift of $50 to spend at


To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to residents of the U. S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Home Art Studio- Review

I am going to be honest and just tell you up front I am not an Art person.  I am not good at it, therefore I do not enjoy teaching it.  I also may have a slight neat freak thing going on, so lots of random (and sparkly) art supplies make be break into a cold sweat.

For the sake of one of latest reviews, you will be happy to know that I put my fears aside and forged ahead.  Of course it helped that the art program was taught by someone else.  All I had to do was pop in the DVD and cheer from the sidelines.  Yay me!

Yay Home Art Studio!  Home Art Studio, taught by art teacher Mrs. Lindsey Volin, is all about teaching children to "problem solve, think creatively, and truly see the world around them."  Mrs. Volin, a certified art teacher and mom to 2 boys, offers DVD instruction for Grades K-5th, each one focusing on a specific theme. She recommends doing one project per week to allow your students time to complete the task at their own rates.  Lesson plans are included and can be printed out for easy reference.  Though each lesson builds upon previous knowledge, they can be used as a stand alone lesson if you so desire.  Art project instruction covers various mediums from paint, to chalk, to modeling clay.  Mrs. Volin has conveniently teamed up with an art supplier that lists each of the supplies needed according to the grade you use, making it easy to obtain any art supplies you do not currently have.

Because I wanted to allow not only my rising 3rd grader to use the program, but also encourage his older brother to participate, we decided to review the 5th grade video.  I knew the theme is A Journey Under the Sea would at least spark some interest in the boys, who miss the beach!  I am also involved in a co op, and wanted to see if I felt we could use these videos for a class that has a broad age span of children.  There are 13 lessons in A JOurney Under the Sea that cover over an hour and a half of instruction time.

Here's what we found and loved!

Mrs. Volin is fun!  Her easy going attitude and her endless encouragement just make the class non threatening, even to those of us who are afraid of art! I loved that she encourages creativity and individuality.  We have run into the problem in previous art instruction that if "our" project did not look exactly like the teachers, then "we" were frustrated. Mrs. Volin mentions this very early on, encouraging children that everyone's project will look different, and even encourages them to use different colors and such if they so desire.

The projects are fun and easy to follow!  Directions are well presented and the projects vary enough to capture any child at some point.  Even though we were working three grade levels above Colby, he was able to participate with very little help from me.

Lesson on shading from light to dark

The supplies needed are not obnoxious!  Yes, I want my kids to have fun with art, but I will have to tell you, I do not have time to search for hard to find items.  Many of the items needed we already have, and with the supply lists already out together by Jerry’s Artarama, it makes life so much easier.

This program can be used my multiple ages.  My personal recommendation would be to buy a year in the middle of your ages group.  So, if you buy 3rd grade and want to use it for multiple ages, use it for 2-4th.  You CAN have younger students do projects at higher levels with some supervision, I just believe this is the best fit.

There are FREE lessons on the Home Art Studio website!  Not sure you are ready to take my word for it?  Go on line, choose a grade and try a project out.

The lessons are not too long.  Each lesson is about 15 minutes long from start to finish.  We did pause the video frequently to try out a technique or follow an instruction, but the shorter length helped my son not lose focus or get bored.  This shorter length also lends itself well to co op classes where your class time is more limited.

Mrs. Volin takes you outside the Art Studio!  Tucked within the actual art instruction are also great teaching moments of art history and fun as well.  In A Journey Under the Sea, students get to visit an artist's studio as well as an aquarium!

While we have thoroughly enjoyed A Journey Under the Sea, we are now eager to go back and get the 3rd grade volume for our upcoming school year.  With the theme, Be Creative, I think it will be right up Colby's alley!

In addition to the K-5th grade DVDs, Home Art Studio also carries a Holiday Arts and Crafts DVD.  Now through September 15, if you purchase 2 videos, Mrs. Volin will give you the Holiday Arts and Crafts one for free!

*I received a free copy of A Journey Through the Sea in exchange for an honest review of the product.  All opinions are mine!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Apologetics Study Bible for Students- Review and Giveaway

B&H Publishing Group have partnered with Sean McDowell (son of Josh McDowell, assistant professor, author, co-author, editor, husband, and father of 3) and a host of talented contributors to create The Apologetics Study Bible for Students HCSB.  The Apologetics Study Bible for Students HCSB has an awesome goal- To encourage readers who have real questions by offering straight answers in hope that they will develop a stronger, more confident faith.

In this house, we believe that the Word of God is sufficient and can stand on its own.  But let's face it, the teens years are years of a lot of hard work and a lot of questions.  As Sean McDowell says in one of his videos, that is good!  I want our kids to ask questions and seek the truth on their own so they can make their faith a personal one, not just one handed down by their parents.  Study Bibles such as this can often be a good place to start with that seeking.  We have just begun to read a lot of these special features but I like them already!

- Book Introductions for each of the sixty-six books of the Bible.
- Study Notes which provide evidence of the reliability and truthfulness of Scripture.
- 120 Articles written by today's leading Christian thinkers dealing with life's ultimate questions.
- 60 Twisted Scriptures that address ways that various religious movements distort Scripture to support doctrine contrary to historic Christian teaching.
-20 Personal Stories that show how God has worked in a real way to someone.
-50 Bone and Dirt articles that feature archaeologists discoveries with an apologetic point of view.
-25 Tactics that help students withstand opposition to frequently heard arguments against Christianity.
-20 Top Five that list facts in bullets points about hot apologetic topics.

Our favorite feature?  Hard to pick just one really, but I would have to say the Bones and Dirt and the Tactics.  OK, I know that is two!  The boys especially like the Bones and Dirt topics because they deal with science from a Christian standpoint.  The Tactics sections are good for our teen as they equip him with facts rather than just opinions to be able to use in his conversations with non believers.  Knowing what we believe and why we believe are imperative to sharing the gospel at any age!  It is having the confident faith Sean McDowell talks about that enables us to spread the gospel in an effective way.

In addition to this amazing Bible, the gift of Confident Faith is being celebrated with 16 brief videos featuring Sean McDowell.  A new video is added each week, with 16 weeks planned in all.  5 weeks are currently up which you can access in the archives.  Videos include-

Week 1- Is It OK To Have Doubts
Week 2- Why Does God Allow Evil?
Week 3- Does The Bible Demean Women?
Week 4- Should Abortion Be Allowed for Rape or Insect?
Week 5- Can God Make a Rock SO Big He Can't Lift it?

I love these videos.  They are short in length (3-4 minutes each) but packed with information.  They are engaging for younger students and have a fresh, youth appeal to them.  Because they are short, we have been able to use them as conversation starters with our teens.

The big question now is who will claim the Bible in our family! ;)

 Confident Faith Sweepstakes is also being offered to give away Bibles, free mini libraries of B&H's best apologetics resources and even a trip for two to the National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA) being held October 16-17, 2015 in Charlotte, NC where some of the world's leading thinkers will offer insights and teaching. 

You can purchase the Apologetics Student Bible from Lifeway.  It is currently on sale!

Thanks to FlyBy Productions, readers of Family, Faith, and Fridays also have the opportunity to winApologetics Student Bible!  Just leave me a comment and tell me what version of the Bible your family normally uses.  You can earn a second entry by telling us your favorite Bible verse!  A random winner will be drawn next Tuesday, August 18th.


Official Website:

Social Media Shareables (for you!):

Resource Site (Access to Videos):

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”