Blogging Every Day in May

So here it is the day before Mayday.  Tomorrow is May 1st.  Already?  Really? Almost half way through 2013. WOW.

I set a personal goal for 2013 that I would blog an average of every other day.  It doesn’t always work out to be every other day.  Some weeks I blog 3 or 4 days in a row followed by 3 or 4 days of no posts so that the numbers average every other day. Basically, I’m striving for roughly 15 blog posts a month. That’s the measurable part of the goal.  The underlying goal is to be more consistent and intentional with blogging.

What does this have to do with May? Well, my friend Miranda (yes the one who hosts the 5 on Fridays!) introduced me to the idea of a “Blogging Every Day in May” challenge.  Sitting here on April 30th and knowing that this is holy week, I’m thinking “nope.  I really shouldn’t start this right now.”  But the idea keeps tickling my brain.  Miranda suggested checking out the May Challenge over at Story of My Life.

I like some of the theme suggestions.  Well, not really the ones for Friday and I really like 5 on Friday so I think I’ll just stick to doing 5 on Friday. I don’t like posting more than once a day (maybe I’ll get to a place where I do that but if I can’t manage to blog every day, I don’t need to be posting 2 to 3 times a day for two days in a row and then NOTHING for days on end.**) So here’s my plan.  I’m going to strive for blogging every day in May but not every post will be one of the May challenge themes.

**It’s my blog so I reserve the right to post more than once a day <grin>

Do you have a blogging goal for May?


E and F are for Expecting Feasting

I completely missed the letter E last week.  I wanted to combine e and f so that I could “catch up” but I kept thinking of things like “Evergreen Forests” (um, yes, I can see one in my backyard but that doesn’t mean I have anything to say about it!) or “Everlasting Father” (a great sounding topic that I am sure I could find something to say about our heavenly Father!) but then Supergirl said this:

“Is Lent almost over yet? I want to have biscuits and gravy. With Bacon. And sausage too!”

Lent officially ended Friday but the fasting won’t end for another week. This weekend is Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday.  They are not part of Lent and not part of Holy Week and we still keep the fast until after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. (We’ll break the fast together as a Church with a potluck of finger foods around 3am!)

So there is an air of expectation that the fasting will end soon and the feasting will begin! We’ll be making special bread made with milk, butter and eggs and a special cheese spread made with cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese and eggs. Yes, you spread it on the special bread.  And Supergirl is expecting to feast on biscuits and gravy with bacon and sausage. If you were at Pre-Sanctified with us on Friday night, yes that was her clapping when, at the end of the service, Father announced that Lent had concluded. She again reiterated her desire for biscuits and gravy. I had to remind her that though the season of Lent had ended, the fast continues.

Though it seems that we’re really focused on food (we are) it’s MORE than that. As we enter into Holy Week we experience the last few days of Christ’s earthly ministry and we are reminded of His sacrifice. When Pascha comes and we celebrate His resurrection we experience the joy and hope that His victory over death secures for us and it is only natural that we feast!

So with a week to go we are expecting feasting!

Blogging Through the Alphabet


Five on Friday {April 26th Edition}

The one problem with doing these weekly is that it causes me to realize just how fast time is moving.  And I completely missed the April 19th Edition so I’m combining a couple of things I would have posted last week. I know today is Saturday but better late than never right? (I hope?!)

1.  Last Wednesday, the 17th, would have been my parents 48th Wedding Anniversary. Dad and mom were married 37 1/2 years when dad passed away. Sometimes I am very selfish and I forget that I didn’t just lose a father, but that my mother lost a husband. Memory Eternal, Daddy, we all miss you very much!

2.  Tailorbear and Honeybear worked on the garden over the last two weeks.  Tailorbear would check daily to see if grass or weeds were trying to sprout and she prettied up the sides of the garden with some rocks so there is a definite edge or border around the small space.  Honeybear and Tailorbear got the rows planted earlier this week.  They planted two rows of peas, two rows or green beans and one row of carrots.  He told me he was going to give me two rows of carrots but he said that he didn’t think we had enough seeds. (The space “behind” the stakes will be where we plant our zucchini plants!)

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3. Lent is officially over! Holy Week begins Monday (well, Sunday night!) and so we have these two very special days after Great Lent and before Holy Week: Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Yes, that was my daughter clapping last night when Fr. said that it was the last day of Lent.

4. I have no pictures to prove it but the weather earlier this week was just perfect. It’s not quite May but it felt like May.  May is my favorite month because the rain stops and the sun comes out and we get beautiful sunshiny days with temps in the mid 70’s.  Not too hot to be outside but warm enough inside to open windows wide!

5. I don’t remember if it was in the last two weeks or if it was within the last 3 weeks but I finally finished Jane Eyre.  I did blog about it with my reading challenge update. I have also since then finished False Witness. I’m nearly 1/2 way through the last Percy Jackson series book.  I am waiting for Fortress of Mist book 2 in the Immortal Series to arrive. According to GoodReads I am about 4 books behind my 2013 reading goal. Guess I better spend more time reading!

Come visit Miranda and join in the fun!


Writing Fiction [In High School] {Crew Review}

For quite some time now Tailorbear has been begging to be allowed to write short stories or a novel.  She complains about having to write essays and other academic style papers for school. She thinks writing is boring, hard, and she dislikes it. Both Tailorbear and Turtlegirl have active imaginations and create stories ~sometimes written, sometimes oral ~ for fun on rainy and sometimes not so rainy afternoons.

When I saw Writing Fiction [in High School] by Sharon Watson on the Schoolhouse Review Upcoming Vendors list I knew that Tailorbear would be all over the idea of a writing class teaching how to write fiction. Turtlegirl, my avid book loving, book devouring daughter, fills notebooks full of story ideas and poetry, was equally as excited as Tailorbear to try this curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson.

Logo for Writing with Sharon Watson

What is it? 

Writing Fiction [in High School] is a two semester high school level English curriculum written directly to the student. This course will teach students how to write a hook, to “ramp up the conflict”, create engaging dialogue, select a point of view, critique themselves and more.

Thoughts from Tailorbear:

I Personally love this product! I especially like the fact that she didn’t give me a chance to procrastinate on my writing work! I love how I’m already writing fiction. Even if it’s just bits and pieces here and there. I also love how she taught us to find story ideas everywhere. I was reading my history book about India’s Revolution, and how one soldier survived an attack. I thought “Hmm, This might make an excellent story!”. I have never EVER done this before I started! I also like the writing group. My sisters, OK maybe not them, but I love critiquing my work, and having others help out! This, is a five star writing program.

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

I really liked this product. I liked that their was a reading section, and then a ‘hands-on’ sort of thing were you practiced what was taught in the reading section. I also love that while I am working through the product, I can also be writing a story. I can use what I am learning in the book to what I am currently writing. (Yep, I write a lot of different things at the same time, LOL) I love how you don’t have to be writing a short story/novella/novel to use the book. I love how clear the explanations are. I also like how there are examples from actual books/stories to help further demonstrate the concepts.


The Details

  • The Vendor: Writing with Sharon Watson
  • The Product: Writing Fiction [in High School]
  • Sold separately: Student book ($25.05) and Teacher’s Guide ($9.95)
  • Grade Range: 9th-12 Grade
  • strongly recommend creating a writer’s group
  • strongly recommend purchasing the book The Last Book in the Universe because it is used in multiple chapters.



My Thoughts:

I have not had to pull teeth, bribe or threaten my daughters to complete these assignments. I’m not even sure I’ve had to remind them to complete the assignments. I have had to tell them, “that’s enough writing for today, you do have other subjects to complete.” Though Ms. Watson is hesitant to recommend this program for students younger than 9th grade, it is working well for my nearly-finished-with-8th-grade daughter. She is highly motivated, has a strong foundation in language arts and, perhaps most importantly, has an older sister who is also using the program. If any of those key things were missing, I’m not sure she’d be as successful.

I agree with Ms. Watson when she states:

It works best when done with a group. You will write on your own, of course, but discussing ideas, submitting your work to the group for critiques, and critiquing others are important when learning to write fiction. If you don’t have a group (classmates, home school group, friends, etc.), find or create one. Meet once a week. The benefits will be worth the work.

Because we had two daughters using this it was natural for them to form a group but we also asked my oldest daughter to be part of the discussion.  Though she wasn’t writing material herself, her contribution was invaluable to the success of the “writer’s group”. Boobear was able to help both Turtlegirl and Tailorbear by making suggestions and offering constructive criticism. We really enjoyed our “Writer’s Group Meetings”.

I think this is an excellent program for high school students who want to learn how to write fiction. I think this curriculum would be a very fun class to teach or participate in with a home school co-op. I know both my daughters are loving this book. I’m looking forward to reading the fairytales at our next discussion group.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about either of the writing programs from Sharon Watson.

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You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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{Giveaway!} A Cry from Egypt ~ Signed Copy!

This past fall the girls and I had the opportunity to read and review A Cry from Egypt by Hope Auer.
From my review:
“Thought provoking and moving, A Cry from Egypt brings history to life.”  ~ me
“The story was gripping, and it brought the 7 plagues to life, especially for the Egyptians. It really showed that the Egyptians were real people, with hopes, thoughts, and fears.” ~ Turtlegirl
“It was a very compelling story, and not a difficult read, though thought provoking. It was also very moving at moments.” ~ BooBear
Hope, a home school graduate, is celebrating the release of A Cry from Egypt by offering my readers a signed copy of her new book!

This book is an excellent read aloud for ages 10 and up or a great read alone for ages 12 and up and would make an excellent literature selection to accompany a study of ancient Egypt.

* I received no compensation for this post. I really like the book and I wanted to participate in the giveaway! *
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Easy Tomato Florentine Soup {Try a New Recipe}

It’s been several weeks now since I’ve posted a recipe to link up to Lisa’s Try a New Recipe Tuesday meme.

On Monday I made a tomato soup that I’ve been making for years.  It’s super easy, doesn’t take long and is a great way to get my daughters to eat spinach. It’s one of my “go to” lunch recipes for lunch when I have spinach on hand!

Tomato Florentine Soup



  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (I used petite diced for smaller pieces) (you can use 6-8 large fresh, peeled and chopped tomatoes but I never have)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chopped onion (or 1/2 cup fresh onion, coarsely chopped)
  • 3 Cups water
  • 3/4 cup tomato juice (I use V8 juice)
  • 2 tsp “chicken” flavored broth powder (or 1 chicken bouillon or vegetable bouillon cube or omit)
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil (or to taste)
  • Salt and/or pepper to taste
  • 10 (or more) ounces fresh spinach ( I use the leaf whole, but you could coarsely chop it and I use closer to 14-16 oz of spinach)


  1. Combine tomatoes, onions, water, juice and bouillon (if using) in large soup pot.
  2. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, if using, fresh tomatoes break them into pieces.
  3. Add spinach and seasonings and simmer for another 5 minutes or so (until the spinach is nicely wilted)

You can serve this topped with parmesan cheese or finely shredded mozzarella cheese.

For a heartier soup you can add 1/2 cup UNcooked macaroni with the tomatoes and onions.  You can also add white kidney beans, small white beans or garbanzo beans (1 15oz can). I usually make this for lunch so I leave out the macaroni and beans.  Even my pickiest eater likes this soup (especially if I have cheese to top it!)


The Hobbit Study Guide from Progeny Press {Crew Review}

Several years ago the girls listened to The Hobbit on audiobook. It was a read-aloud for our literature based curriculum. They were hooked. They each over the years have re-read the book on their own. When the movie came out in December it was a “no-brainer” gift idea to purchase tickets for all of us as a family gift. Everyone loved the movie. It inspired the girls to read the book again. So when the opportunity to arrived to review The Hobbit Study Guide from Progeny press, it was another “no-brainer” to express “jumping up and down with excitement” interest in being allowed to review the guide.

Not only were were excited because we could do a literature study on a much loved book but we were excited because it was a Progeny Press guide. We fell in love with Progeny Press when we reviewed The Bronze Bow Study Guide and the Screwtape Letters Study Guide during a previous crew run. 


The Hobbit Study Guide: Cover image Progeny Press The Hobbit Study Guide

We received the instant download version of the product. The download is a compressed (zipped) file that contains a file folder for MAC users as well as a PDF READ ME tutorial file, the study guide, and an answer key.  Permission is granted to reproduce the study guide for multiple students in a single family or for a single teacher in a classroom setting. Progeny Press suggests saving a copy of the study guide for each student so I created files for each of the three girls and one for myself.

The study guide contains:

  • a note to the instructor with suggestions on how to use the guide
  • a synopsis of the story
  • a section about the author
  • Ideas for Pre-Reading Activities
  • Questions for chapters (Chapters are in groups of 2 –3 for e.g. chapters 1-3)
    • Vocabulary
    • Exploring a literary element such as setting or character
    • Questions (these are comprehension questions about the story)
    • Thinking about the Story: These questions are more analytical
    • Dig Deeper: I think of these like a mini-bible study. These questions explore themes, concepts or ideas from the story from a biblical perspective. 
  • Overview: Which contains essay questions and other post-reading activity suggestions

Using Progeny Press:

I have three students in the recommended age range (grades 8-12) for this particular study. BooBear is a senior and does not need another literature study for graduation but she loves the Hobbit. She read the book in the past and is rereading the book to keep pace with our group discussions. She’s reading over the study guide questions so that she can participate in the lively talks.

Turtlegirl (10th grade) and Tailorbear (8th grade) are using this in a more traditional manner. Both heard the book a few years ago as a read aloud. Turtlegirl read the book independently after that and read it again for this study, Tailorbear is reading the book independently now at a pace that matches the study guide chapter sections.

I chose to use the Dig Deeper Questions for group discussion. I love how my girls were able to work independently though the other questions. I could have assigned the Dig Deeper sections as independent work as well, but, for our family, those questions worked great as a catalyst for group discussions.

So what did using it actually look like? Some days were spent reading:

Turtlegir reading the Hobbit

Some days were spent working through the questions:

Tailorbear working on Progeny Press Study Guide

And at least once per “section” we spent time in group discussion:

The girls having a dicussion about The Hobbit

Thoughts from Tailorbear: 

I love The Hobbit and studying the book and the deeper meanings helps me understand what the story is saying. I really do like this program!

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

I really enjoyed the Progeny Press Guide for the Screwtape Letters; and the Hobbit Guide completely met my expectations as being just as good. I really enjoy the ‘thinking about the story’ questions, because they truly help you analyze the story. It makes you think about the characters. Plus, I love vocabulary so I like that every session starts with a vocabulary section. I love the Progeny Press Guides, and this one was no exception.

The Details:

Image of Progeny Press LOGO

  • The Vendor:  Progeny Press
  • The Product:  The Hobbit Study Guide
  • Recommended Age Range: Grades 8-12
  • The Price: $18.99 for Download Version
  • The Format: We received the PDF download. Print and CD Versions are also available.
  • You do need the novel, The Hobbit. You do not need a specific edition since the questions are set up by chapter not page number.
  • The Study guide is Interactive which means you can type your answers directly into the PDF!

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about The Hobbit Study Guide or other study guides from Progeny Press.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.


Reading Goals update for April 2013

Graphic for Reading Goals 2013

I really intended for my reading goal update posts to be posted sometime during the first week of the month.  Here were are half way through the month and I’m just now getting around to talking about what I have haven’t read.  Yes.  That’s correct.  This is more of post of what I haven’t finished reading.  Except that I do have one very large announcement:

I finished Jane Eyre!

Yes, I finally finished reading this classic novel.  I read the e-book version from Barnes and Noble.  It had 1147 pages.  That didn’t compute with me until I realized they meant 1147 NOOK book pages.  Those are tiny.  But I read them. I don’t think I loved the story.  I know my daughters enjoyed it far more than I did.  I just had such a difficult time getting past the accusations that Jane was a liar.  She was so horribly mistreated by her family that I had to stop reading the book for quite some time.  I understand that what the character experienced was not atypical for that era but I still didn’t like it. I did however enjoy the story well enough that I intend to watch the Timothy Dalton mini-series version of the book.

Oh one more note about Jane Eyre.  I didn’t finish it in March.  I finished it in April.  I don’t think I finished any books in March.  That sounds so discouraging.  It’s not that I didn’t read though.  I did.  I just haven’t finished anything except Jane Eyre.

In my March Reading Goals update I posted:

So my goals for the rest of March:

  • Finish False Witness

  • Finish Morbid Taste for Bones

  • Read A Corpse Too Many

  • Start Mere Christianity

I still haven’t finished False Witness. I will. I love Randy Singer.  In fact I just last week I requested another Randy Singer book to review for Tyndale.  I’ll be participating in the Blog Tour in June!

I had set aside False Witness so that I could read the two Cadfael books but I ended up moving both of those books to my “didn’t finish” shelf of GoodReads.  I wanted to read them but it just didn’t happen and then I couldn’t renew them because someone else had them on hold. I did start Mere Christianity.  I’d still like to finish it before Pascha.

I haven’t done as much reading because in the evenings we’ve been listening to some pod casts from Ancient Faith Radio *and* we’ve been doing some Reading Aloud.  Some of my reading aloud is happening in the afternoon.  I posted last week about starting back to reading aloud and I’ve made it a Daily Task to Read Aloud. When it is back to being a habit, I can remove it from my daily reminders but for now it is good to see it staring me in the face every time I check my calendar or emails!

So I am currently reading these three books aloud:

  • Lady Ch’iao Kuo: Warrior of the South  by Laurence Yep.  I am reading this one aloud to Supergirl as part of her Great Empires: Ancient China study.
  • Life with Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.  This is book 1 in the The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  I’m reading this one aloud to Supergirl and it’s just for fun.  It’s a nice treat to read after we’ve done any of our science or history reading.
  • Speaking of Science, I read the first half of The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor to Supergirl for science, we’ll read the other half tomorrow.
  • The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope.  Yes I know that’s the fourth book but I hadn’t planned on including the Magic School Bus book.  This one Supergirl hangs out with us, sometimes, but I am reading it aloud to Tailorbear. BooBear has asked me to read it “where I can hear, too.” So I guess I am still reading aloud to my 17 year old high school senior.  (Happy Sigh!)

I’m going to include the books I read aloud (well not the Magic School Bus one) towards my book reading goal.  If I’m reading it aloud, I’m reading it, right?  Especially if I’m enjoying the story!

If Debra over at Footprints in the Butter does her Read Aloud Challenge Link-Up this week, I’ll be linking this post!


D is for Disney World {Through the Alphabet}

I think it was April.  It was 2008.  Supergirl had had her regular cardiac check-up.  I got a phone call a couple of days later.  Would it be ok if Dr. S nominated Supergirl for Make-A-Wish?  The nurse made sure that we knew that all the tests were fine.  Supergirl was not facing more problems. Her condition is life-threatening (and continues to be so), but she was doing great and very stable. I learned then that Make-A-Wish is not just for children with terminal illnesses but those who are fighting life-threatening diseases as well.

So we were contacted by Make-A-Wish and the process began.  Supergirl didn’t even hesitate about what she wanted.  She was adamant.  Disney World.  NOT Disneyland.  According to her Cruella lived there and she didn’t want to meet her.  She wanted to meet Buzz Lightyear.  When the volunteer tried to suggest Disneyland, Supergirl said no.  And just to prove that she knew the difference, she said “the one in Florida.”  (I didn’t know she knew the difference!  I still don’t know how she knew the difference!)

So Make-A-Wish foundation granted Supergirl her wish of going to Florida so that she could go to Disney World. They arranged everything from airline tickets, accommodations at Give Kids the World Village to a rental car, and even gave us a Bon Voyage Pizza Party!  You’ll have to take my word for the party though because I can’t find those pictures. 

It wasn’t long before it was time to leave!  We timed our trip for early November. We even bought new luggage for the trip. Make-A-Wish arranged for a private shuttle to take to take us to the airport.

Supergirl with the luggage waiting for the shuttle.


When we arrived at the airport, a volunteer guided us through security and check in.   Can you see how excited the girls were!  And can you see how tired and exhausted they were by the time we got to the rental car!  It was a very long day of travelling.  I think we left our house around 11am (give or take) (Pacific Time) and arrived in Florida around 10:30pm (Eastern time). 

At the airport full of energy and in the van, very tired.

On our  first full day, one parent had to attend an orientation.  The other parent got to take the girls for a horse back ride!  After that we headed to Sea World.

The girls showing off their certificates and posing on horses.


Seaworld Collage 2

In addition to FREE tickets to Sea World, we were also blessed with enough 3-Day Park Hopper passes for our whole family to the Disney World Parks.  We divided up the days and nights and spent a little time at each of the four parks.  We rode rides and of course we met lots of fun characters!

Meeting Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger

The girls meeting different Disney Princesses

Meeting Buzz Lightyear and Woody!

Even Give Kids the World Village arranged for the guests to meet Disney characters! And once a week Santa makes a trip.  Through GKTW, we were able to get discount tickets for a Medieval Dinner. GKTW also had fun activities on site including swimming pools, model trains and a merry-go-round. It was an amazing vacation and it gave the “big girls” and mom and dad a chance to interact with other families with special young people. We knew we were NOT alone!

Yes I have pictures of that stuff.  No I’m not including them.  I have far more pictures than I could possibly post but I will close this with one last picture collage of some of the other Disney Characters we met.

Meeting MORE Disney Characters

Blogging Through the Alphabet


Random Five on Friday {April 12 Edition}

Another week already!  Here’s my 5 on Friday:

1. I have definitely created a lapbook monster!  Supergirl has declared that we *will* do a lapbook for Marco Polo (he’s part of our China/Mongolia study) and then when we finish Marco Polo she has demanded that we create a lapbook for Galileo.  We’re still working on a lapbook for science so I’m trying to convince her that we can study Galileo for science after we finish the current science lapbook.  Good thing I found that file of blank templates for the mini-books!

2. I rarely listen to the news.  This morning I was reminded why. They were discussing pot tourism. They had interviewed a bar owner who sells legalized marijuana. Then there was the “live at the scene” story of a home invasion. And surprise surprise it’s going to rain. This was a Seattle news station.  It’s news when it ISN’T going to rain people, it’s not really news to tell me what I can already tell: it’s going to rain today.

3. 8th Ave E is not the same as 8th Ave S.  Those should be perpendicular streets but they are not.  They are parallel. I knew this.  I still turned on 8th Ave S.  Took me 45 minutes to get home because it was the boonies and there was no safe place to turn around.  At least I wasn’t lost.  I knew where I was.  Can I blame it on being up too early?

4. Though we are NOT in Seattle, we still get rain all the time (it *is* Western WA after all!) so that means it’s highly unlikely the garden will get planted this weekend. Maybe we’ll get the pepper plants and the tomato plants and get those set up in their containers.

5. Boobear is off to college later this afternoon. It’s a “Passport Weekend” and she’ll be meeting with advisors, visiting with current students, taking tours and getting wooed so that she’ll complete her enrollment.  Supergirl is excited because that means she gets the bedroom to herself tonight.

So that’s my very random 5 on Friday!  Sorry I am pictureless this week. I will try to do better next week and have some pictures. I’d love to hear a random thought from you.  Leave me a comment with your random thought or write your on 5 on Friday.  Leave me a comment with your blog post link and be sure and visit Miranda and link up to:


Supercharged Science ~ E-science {Crew Review}

 Supercharged science header

I think science can be the most fun and yet the most challenging subject to teach. It’s the most fun because it can be so hands on but it’s challenging to teach because, let’s face it the average home school mom doesn’t have a degree in science and there are all kinds of technical terms and complicated concepts. Aurora Lipper founded Supercharged Science because she wants “to get kids crazy-wild about science.”  She is a scientist who has taught science at all levels, Kindergarten to College! With her e-Science lessons, she makes science fun and understandable!

Using Supercharged Science in our house:

There are two levels to the e-Science subscription program.  Level 1 targets grades K-8 and is $37 per month.  Level 2 is the high school material.  For $57 a month you gain access to the material for grades 9-12 in addition to the content for grades k-8.  The grade 9-12 content would also be good for advanced grades 5-8.

For this review period, I did not use Supercharged Science with Supergirl. She did “hang out” with us for some group sessions but I focused on using this with my 8th grader, my 10th grader, and my 12th grader.

This is a very thorough program. There is so much available in each study unit that it can be overwhelming. It really helped to go over the getting started portion and to have the girls each explore the units and make a list of units they’d like to cover.

At first I planned to use the curriculum conversion chart and I choose units and lessons based on the topics from our regular science curriculum. We started with the topics that overlapped Physical Science and Chemistry and we watched science experiments and chose a few activities to do as a group.

My husband had a couple of weeks of Friday’s off so I made him the science activity coordinator. We *all* were excited to try the Electrolysis Activity. This is one of the grades 9-12 activities and required some wire (we had left over from a science kit), test tubes (from a science kit we already owned), a glass jar (I have lots of those!), some tape, a 9 volt battery (needed to buy that) and a few other things.  Our experiment failed to produce the gas (the prevailing theory is that we did not get enough conductivity from the battery to the wires and we might buy a clip thing to attach the wire to the battery instead of tape) but because of the great science video, the girls (with Daddy!) were able to see what *should have happened*.

Two girls and daddy working on experiment

I realized after a couple of weeks that it would be *better* for *my* family if I had the girls working more independently. By working independently, they could:

  • Choose topics that most interested them
  • could choose to coordinate study units with their science textbook
  • read the lessons themselves
  • take responsibility for choosing activities and gathering supplies
  • allows them to read through the lesson material and complete written questions at their own pace.

Doing the experiments as group is quite fun so I plan to continue to have occasional “group science days,” but switching to more of an independent study approach has been a great method, especially for Turtlegirl.

Turtlegirl measuring speed of objects rolling down a ramp.

Why this program has such great appeal for me:

  • Can be used as a supplement or along side a more traditional textbook curriculum
  • One monthly subscription can be used by the whole family
  • Can be used independently by older students
  • Can be used to teach multiple levels at the same time
  • Videos that clearly explain the concept
  • Shopping lists for all the activities
  • Most experiments and demonstrations use items found around the home or that are easily obtained
  • If an item is not common to have around the house there is a link for purchasing the item from an online electronics or science supply store
  • I don’t have to teach the science but I can participate in the fun!

Thoughts from Turtlegirl: (Age 15, 10th grade, lover of science)

I love science, and I have always wanted to do more experiments. I really love this program because it contains a variety of topics that I am interested in. I like how there is a video overview at the start of each lesson, and that I can either do the reading first or the experiments first. I love the way she teaches, with bits of humor and clear explanations that make it obvious that she loves science. It’s actually rather infectious. I also like how easy the experiments are to do. I like the science journaling methods they use. I like that there are exercises at the end of each lesson for both the lower levels and the 9-12. I love everything about this program, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to do science. Period.

Thoughts from Boobear: (age 17 grade 12):

I enjoy her enthusiasm for science. It is not a subject that I particularly care for, but it makes it easier to learn when you have a teacher who really enjoys what they are doing. I liked how the website was laid out, it made it easy to find what I was looking for. I enjoyed watching and doing the experiments that I could and learning why they work. Some of ours didn’t work well, but at least we knew how it was suppose to turn out.

Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 14 grade 8):

I loved her multi-sensory approach. I loved that when we were talking about something complex, she would throw in something funny, for example, “mercury is a dangerous liquid. So if I tell you that there’s mercury in that cup, RUN!” These comments make me feel that I don’t have to be a genius in order to understand what she’s talking about. Oh, and the experiments? *evil smile* The instructions are precise and clear whether they are written, or viewed.

My Thoughts

I love Aurora’s enthusiasm.  I love how she takes complicated concepts and vocabulary and explains them in “plain English.”  I love that I could use this one program with ALL four of my girls and know that all of them would be getting a solid science education. Turtlegirl is considering pursuing a college degree in a STEM related field. I think e-science from Supercharged science is giving her a way to explore more science topics than she could from just a standard textbook approach. I admit I’ve not been very excited about high school science until now. Aurora has re-ignited a love of science for Turtlegirl and in turn that has sparked my desire to learn alongside her! Please take the time to visit these links and try out the free lessons and samples.

    Supercharged Science Log

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about e-science from Supercharged Science.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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Thank you Aurora and Supercharged Science for the one year of access to all units!


Breakfast Casserole: Strata {Recipe}

I have been meaning to post this recipe for several weeks. This is a family favorite weekend brunch favorite.  Years ago, before we were Orthodox, I had a rotating breakfast menu for Sunday that included make ahead casseroles.  Put it together Saturday evening, and pop it in the oven while everyone is getting ready for church.

Now we don’t eat breakfast on Sunday mornings, so I don’t make these as often. This is my favorite strata to take to our Bible Study potlucks (back when I could attend, you know when we had two vehicles!).  It’s also perfect for holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Pascha (Easter).

I love that this recipe is so versatile. I can use different types of breads or meats.  I could add peppers and onions (I never have, but I could!), I could even play around with different cheeses.  I usually just stick with French bread, sausage or bacon and cheddar cheese!

Our Family Favorite Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Note: I prepare this the night before and let it sit overnight. For *best* results let sit in fridge for at least 4 hours.  I just find it easier to prepare the afternoon/evening before because we tend to want to it eat it early enough in the day that I don’t have hours to let it sit in the fridge!

You’ll need:

  • 6-8 “regular” slices of your favorite bread or about 3/4 of a loaf of crusty French bread.  (I usually use French bread)
  • 1 pound of breakfast meat (choose one or mix and match) 
    • sausage cooked and crumbled (this is our favorite!)
    • bacon cooked and diced (made into bacon bits or just use 1/2 cup real bacon bits/crumbles)
    • cooked ham, diced
  • 6-8 eggs (we’ve found that 6 eggs works well, but sometimes we’ll use 7 to keep the number left in the fridge even LOL)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (ground mustard powder)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups of grated/shredded cheese (amount depends on how cheesy you want it! I don’t measure, I just add enough until it looks right which would be somewhere between 1 and 2 cups :D )

Putting it together!

  1. Tear bread into bite size pieces and layer in a greased 9x13 pan (or use the whole loaf of French bread and use an 11x15 pan)
  2. spread the meat over the bread.  I like to kind of toss the meat with the bread as I like the meat more evenly distributed but traditionally it would be just a layer on top of the bread.
  3. “Sprinkle” the cheese over the bread and meat
  4. beat eggs with milk and add mustard, salt and pepper
  5. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread/meat/cheese layers.
  6. Cover and place in fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours

Baking the Casserole

Do NOT preheat the oven.  You can bake covered or uncovered.  My original recipe only has a note about “you can bake covered in foil but place parchment paper between food and foil” I use a plastic lid that comes with my 9x13.  I just remove the cover and bake the strata uncovered. I think if I didn’t mix the meat with the bread I’d want to cover the casserole for at least part of the baking time to keep the meat from getting cooked too much.  Turn oven to 350 degrees, place casserole in oven and bake for about 45 minutes.

Casserole is done when it is browned, puffy and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve with fresh fruit for a lovely brunch.  Grapes, Strawberries, or Melon are my favorite side dish fruits.


Come see what other recipes are linked up over at Try a New Recipe Tuesday!


Getting Back to Reading Aloud

This month, April, marks the 15th anniversary of the first Home School Fair I ever attended.  It was simply a group of home school moms having a show and tell of their favorite curriculums. It was 1998 and my oldest wasn’t quite 3 years old.  The twins were 8 months old.  I knew were were going to home school and I had been encouraged to start researching curriculum, methods, etc. now because it wouldn’t be long before that not quite 3 year old would be school age (and to think that in two months, she’ll be graduating!!).

This was my first glimpse of curriculum. I fell in love with the idea of Learning Language Arts through Literature and I was introduced to a company named Sonlight.  There were some who did not like Sonlight because of their use of Usborne books.  I was slightly overwhelmed and put the whole concept of curriculum on hold.  I mean she was only 2 3/4!

As the months went by I realized I really did need *something* for this now active 3 year old.  She loved numbers.  Everything was all about counting and she was figuring out number patterns. In January of 1999, I got my hands on a Sonlight catalog and a Teacher’s Guide. Basic K, 1997.  I had spent months looking at this company and that company and just not happy with the silly little workbooks that I kept seeing. 

I took that TG and catalog home and I devoured them!  I shared the catalog with my husband.  We requested a catalog of our own.  We knew.  We just knew.  We had to approach the education of our children through books. 

I placed my very first Sonlight order in June of 1999.  I was very ambitious and purchased the Basic K program with K LA and K Math for my *just turned 4 year old*.  What was I thinking??!!!  She did ok with the math.  Remember I said she loved numbers? Letters? Oh my NO.  She wanted NOTHING to do with learning her letters.  The books?  I think we would have been just fine to stick to the Bible, History and Read Alouds but we decided to put Basic K on the shelf and gather up the books from the then Preschool Complete Package.

So why did we choose Sonlight all those years ago?  Because the parent reads the history and the read-alouds to the children. Because the parent would be involved in the discussions created by the topics. We read aloud to the children daily . . . pretty close to daily.  We did the read-alouds, great literature for the whole family, in the evenings as a family. I did the history readings during the school day.

Suddenly I had older children and we were no longer using Sonlight Cores with Read-Aloud titles.  And for a year we did not even use Sonlight! Supergirl had always just tagged along and I found it incredibly difficult to follow through with doing a Sonlight Core for her.

Tailorbear used Core 6 (now called some letter) last year and read 99% of the books independently. I wasn’t needed for history and we stopped doing Read-Alouds as a family. Now she is finishing up Core 7 (yup, that name changed too). Neither Turtlegirl, nor, BooBear are using Sonlight at this time. (Long story, I’ll save it for another blog post!)

I miss reading aloud. There are many good, solid reasons for reading aloud even when they are older! But mostly, I feel I am cheating Supergirl. So I’ve decided to start participating in Debra’s Read Aloud Challenge link-up. I need some type of accountability.

There are many reasons why using Sonlight isn’t a good fit for Supergirl right now but there are some wonderful books that Sonlight uses that I already own. I plan on incorporating them into some type of plan for Supergirl.

Right now, with it being Great Lent we’re keeping evening read alouds to just Monday and Thursday evenings.  Honey bear has been reading The Dark Frigate aloud. The target child is Tailorbear but this was a book we skipped earlier so the other two “big girls” are usually around and listening as well.

I started reading aloud The Sherwood Ring. We’re not very far into but so far I think I like it. This was another title we skipped the first time we went through the World History In-Depth part 2 program. Again we’re reading it as a family.

Today I started Lady Ch’iao Kuo: Warrior of the South.  I think this would be an excellent read aloud for the whole family with Supergirl tagging along but she is my target so we’re going to take it in small chunks and read it just her and I.

I have not started them yet but I am planning to read Little Pear, a Sonlight Core 1 title and Li Lun, Lad of Courage, a Sonlight Core 5 book, aloud to Supergirl.  These titles fit our study of Ancient China.

Supergirl wants me to read The Hobbit aloud to her and I started but it’s going to take us a LONG time to get through it! She has a great attention span, but I would rather read it in shorter bits to make sure I don’t lose her.

Do you read aloud?  What books are you reading aloud?

I’ll be linking this post up to Footprints in the Butter.


April Cleaning Challenge Week 1

One of my fellow home school bloggy friends, Jennifer, shared about an April Cleaning challenge that she plans to participate in.  She blogs over at Conversaving.  MoneySaving Mom is hosting the 30 Day House Cleaning Challenge and it is based on the 31 Day House Cleaning Routine from Fresh and Organized.

I am hoping/planning/striving to post weekly updates about our progress.  I’m looking at this house cleaning challenge as a “getting ready for Pascha” since Pascha is May 5th. Each day at 9am Eastern Moneysaving Mom is posting the daily challenge.  She takes what the 32 Day House Cleaning Routine lists and breaks it down into tasks.  (Check out the above link to see what I mean.)

I actually didn’t jump into this until April 3rd but it fairly easy to pick some things from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.   Generally speaking those days were “Surface clean Kitchen and Living Room”   Washing the dishes was one of the tasks.  This made me giggle because the dishes need to be done daily.  I giggled because that means we were going to get at least one thing done for sure!

Another task was “surface clean the bedrooms”.  One of the tasks was “make the bed.”  I do make my bed everyday.  It’s my “shiny sink” if you are a flylady person you’ll know what I mean.  But it also said “change/wash bedding if needed.”  The sheets were already fresh (thanks Honeybear!) but I did wash the quilt and change the pillow shams.

One of those first few days included “surface clean the bathroom.”  For me that doesn’t include scrubbing toilets or scrubbing anything.  It means picking up all the towels and clothes off the floor, emptying the trash, putting stuff away from the counter and maybe wiping down the counter and sink.  But suggested task said something about cleaning toilets with cleaner.  I did that.  Or rather Turtlegirl and I did that.  I started it; she finished it.

I decided that today would be “clean the house according to the challenge day.”  And I have to say that I am pretty pleased with the results!  Didn’t get quite get to what I wanted to add to the list.  (The stove needs a good scrubbing, especially since we’re having someone take a look at it on Monday to hopefully fix the non-working burner!)

We did not do the Bonus Project (Find 7 things to get rid of) unless you count all the empty or expired medicine bottles and empty medicine boxes I got rid of today. That counts right? Here’s what we did (and I do mean we; this was a family effort!):

  • Master Bedroom:
    • Bed made
    • floor cleared and vacuumed (it’s amazing how clean the room feels with the junk from the floor put away, the bed made and the room vacuumed.)
    • Things put away from dresser
  • Master Bathroom:
    • counter cleared and wiped
    • trash emptied
    • floor swept
    • shower scrubbed
  • Girls’ Room #1
    • poster hung (The Hobbit!)
    • beds made
    • floor cleared
    • desk tidied
  • Girls’ Room #2
    • at least one bed had the sheets changed and the bed made all pretty!
    • floor cleared
  • Living Room
    • clean laundry folded
    • floor vacuumed
    • (This room did not need much.  The dollhouse stuff got put away and Toy Kitchen stuff got brought in)
  • Kitchen
    • Breakfast (waffles!) got cleaned up
    • dishwasher loaded, run, unloaded and re-loaded!
    • floor swept
    • cabinet that holds all the medication and other misc. stuff cleaned out and re-organized
  • Laundry Room ~ floor cleared and swept! Trash emptied
  • Main Bathroom
    • disgusting vent cleaned! (Thanks Honeybear!)
    • floor swept
    • counter scrubbed
    • tub scrubbed
  • Dining Room ~ Vacuumed

So some “surface” cleaning, some “deeper cleaning” and some “project cleaning”.  Of course the dining room table and the whole family room didn’t get touched but there’s always next time right?

Next time I’ll remember to take before and after pictures especially of deep or project cleaning.


Random 5 on Friday! {April 5th Edition}

It’s Friday already?  Again?  Wow this week disappeared so quickly! Here’s this week’s installment of Random 5 on Friday!

1. Last weekend Honeybear cleared the old overgrown, once might have been a garden, space in the side/back yard. This weekend he’s hoping to do some planting.  We’re going to do a combo of “in the ground” and “container” gardening or at least we’re going to try.

Cleared out space for a garden!

2.  I think I’ve created a lapbooking monster!  Supergirl has really been enjoying lapbooking. I told her we could create mini-books for our Great Empires study.  She says we have to do one for Marco Polo! And when we’re done with Great Empires, she wants to do a lapbook for Galileo.

3. My oldest daughter doesn’t like bean sprouts. The kind you get in the can that is commonly used for Chow Mein.  All these years we thought she just didn’t like Chow Mein but really it might just be the canned bean sprouts. After Lent, I think I’ll make some Chow Mein and omit the bean sprouts *or* try fresh instead of canned.

4. I started a 30 day cleaning challenge for April. I feel like such a failure because here it is Friday and um, I didn’t even look at the challenge for yesterday or today.  I am hoping that tomorrow I can rope the whole family in and we can get “caught” up. I’m compiling my list of projects. No way I’ll get them all done in April but maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to make some significant progress.

5. Tonight I will finally make it to a Friday Pre-Sanctified and soup supper with talk!  It’s the third Friday of Great Lent and I have only been to ONE Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and that was the first Wednesday.  We were ALL sick the first Friday and then some of us were sick still sick or sick again last Friday.  But the plan is for ALL of us to go tonight.  We’ll attend the beautiful service which is very much like a Vespers service and then we’ll enjoy some food and fellowship and here some teaching.  I really enjoy the soup supper and talks that I’ve been able to attend in the past.

I wish I had more pictures but I’m feeling a bit lazy about hunting down some more pictures.  I’ll post this link to my review which has pictures of Supergirl and her lapbook.

You can participate in Random 5 on Friday, too! You can leave me a common with 5 random facts (or thoughts) or you can write a blog post and link up with all of us! Thank you, Miranda for this fun link up!


C is for Curriculum

Maybe it’s because it is spring, the time of year when home school conventions begin, or maybe it’s because I just finished a review of A Journey Through Learning and I’ve started a study of Ancient China using the Great Empires study from Home School in the Woods. Maybe it is because I need to start thinking about the next school year, though I don’t want to think too hard about the fact that I’ll only be planning for 3.  Whatever the reason, my mind has been on curriculum and curriculum planning.

Over the years, I’ve collected lots of curriculum. I like new stuff but over the years I’ve learned that I don’t need to buy and try every new trendy curriculum.  It’s ok to stick to what is working, especially if it is working well. Sometimes change is good and sometimes curriculum changes are necessary to preserve the sanity of student and teacher!

I’m not making too many changes to the line-up for Supergirl but here’s an outline of my plans for her:


  • Math ~ TouchMath ~ This has been working so well for her that I see no need to change.  I don’t know how long it will take us to complete the 1st grade program so we’ll just keep going and worry about grade 2 when we finish grade 1.
  • Language Arts ~
    • Reading ~ I have tried so many programs but I think my favorite is All About Reading.  We still have plenty of Level 1 to use.
    • Handwriting ~ No changes here either!  We’ll be sticking with Handwriting Without Tears grade 1.  I plan on buying grade 2 when she’s ready which will not be soon.  Because of her fine motor skills we’re taking it slow and adding in lots of practice!
    • Writing ~  I have loved everything I have used from Excellence in Writing so I’m going to stick with Primary Arts of Language Writing. I do own the Reading portion as well but I really like AAR better so we’ll use PAL writing except using HWT. We could move on to Section two but I want to do more printing practice with HWT.  We’re using the class journal and story summary sections.  Soon we’ll be adding in All About Spelling.
  • Science ~
    • Zoology 3 from Apologia ~ We are both enjoying this so we’re going to continue but we’ll take breaks every now and again to cover other topics. 
    • Hands of A Child Lapbooks ~ I have several of these.  I think the idea of doing lapbooks is part of why curriculum is on my mind.  I found my CD-ROM that has all my PDF lapbooks.  There are several science related topics.  We’ll use these on our breaks from Zoo 3
    • Supercharged Science e-science ~ I haven’t completely decided about this curriculum choice for Supergirl.  I think I might try to match up some science videos with some lapbook topics
  • Social Studies ~ This is the area that I have most struggled with and am most excited about right now.  This is where my heart is starting to go pitter patter as I contemplate curriculum!
    • Great Empires ~ I have just started a review of this activity study by Amy Pak.  We’re starting with Ancient China. We’ll slide in Mongolia from China and then I’ll have to decide which empire after that. This excites me because I am getting back to what I love, reading books.  We’ll be reading some library books and reading some books I already own and using the Great Empires Activities to provide some hands-on projects. 
    • Hands of a Child Lapbooks ~ I know I mentioned these for science but I have some that are history/social studies related as well.  When we finish Great Empires, we’ll pick Project Pak from HOAC and continue with adding in lots of reading aloud!
  • Electives ~
    • Spanish ~  We’ll continue with Song School Spanish, after that I don’t know but we might go back to Song School Latin
    • Art and/or Music ~ I am thinking we’ll read some of the Art books we have around here and maybe we’ll do a lapbook (Do you see a theme here? Read a book, create a lapbook?  LOL)
  • Anything that we happen to have the privilege of reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I know there are some great things coming in the future!

I would talk about the curriculum ideas for Tailorbear and Turtlegirl but right now I’m still in the pondering and thinking.  I suspect that I’ll be more excited to plan out high school choices and choose curriculum after I’ve read High School Prep Genius from College Prep Genius. (Yup another crew review item!)

Have you started choosing curriculum yet? What programs are you contemplating?

Blogging Through the Alphabet


A Journey Through Learning: The Earth Lapbook {Crew Review}

Logo for A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks I do not consider myself to be an artsy craftsy type of home school mom, but I love the idea of notebooking. I discovered the idea of lap booking years ago and we realized that lap booking was a great way to be “hands-on” and create a project without having to get too messy or complicated. We used some lapbooks as supplements to our literature based studies.

Supergirl is very different from her sisters. She requires more of a Cover image of The Earth Learning Lapbook with Study Guidehands on type of learning in order to “own” a concept. For her, lapbooks are the spine to which I add books rather than the supplement that I add to books. I had heard about A Journey Through Learning but had never tried one of their lapbooks before.  The Earth Lapbook is a great introduction to geology, meteorology, and oceanography! I confess I was thrilled with the opportunity to introduce Supergirl to the study of rocks and she already has a love affair with the ocean! 

Using the Lapbook with Supergirl:

Before actually starting the lapbook with Supergirl, I printed out the study guide pages and the mini-books. Usually, when I use a lapbook, I only print out the mini-books as I need them but for this review I wanted them for a picture <grin>.  I asked Supergirl if she wanted to do a traditional lapbook, made out of file folders, or if she would prefer to do it “notebook style” where we glue the mini-books to cardstock, three hole punch it and create a notebook.  She said she wanted to do a notebook because her sisters have notebooks.  She picked out two shades of green, her favorite color, for the notebook pages.

Displays the supplies needed for lapbooking

I checked over the list of suggested additional reading and was thrilled to see The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth. I own that one! So we officially started our Earth study by reading the book over two days. A Journey Through Learning suggests a pace of one mini-book a day.  I found this to be a great pace for us.  I found a library book that was the perfect level for Supergirl’s development.  And I read that to her while she colored her lapbook/notebook cover page. 

After having some general exposure to the topics, it was time to actually start working on the mini-books! It is not necessary to add additional information to this complete lap book, but it is easy to go deeper if your child is interested, wants to learn more, or is on the older side of the suggested age range (grades 1-4). I choose to add some additional information as we completed each mini-book.  We would read a section from an Usborne book, look at the picture, and then I would read the included study guide page.

We used a combination of dictating to mom and copy work to complete each mini book.  For example with the How Mountains are Formed mini-book, she and I discussed the concepts and we came up with some sentences for mom to record.  Then I wrote four words on the whiteboard and she copied them into the mini-book. We’re still working on fine motor skills so she did some of the easier cutting and I did the more difficult cutting.

Mountains formed mini books

Photo shows 1 page of The Earth note book










What I am loving about The Earth Lapbook:

Supergirl proudly displays her Earth notebook

  • The Organization: I love how this lapbook is organized. There is a study guide for each topic and the mini-books for that study guide appear immediately after the guide page. This is so convenient. I don’t have to try scrolling through the whole PDF to find the mini-books, or be forced to print everything all at once. I took a peek at the other products we were given and I am thrilled that they are organized the same way!
  • Topics are Clear: I also love that the topics are very clear. The title of the study guide is the topic! This makes it easy to find books to read aloud to Supergirl that line up with each mini-book. For example, the guide suggests a specific Usborne book but I don’t have that one. I can use the topics to check the index or table of contents of the Usborne books I do have to find more information.
  • Clear Directions: The directions for each mini-book are clear and printed right on the page with mini-book! The directions even include a graphic of where to put the mini-book inside the file folder lapbook!

Details Summary:

  • Vendor: A Journey Through Learning
  • Product: The Earth Lapbook
  • Price: $13 for the download version
  • Recommend Age Range: grades 1-4

Each Crew member assigned to this review received 4 download only products, though we only had to review one. Be sure to check out the Crew reviews to see reviews about Knights and Castles (lapbook), Astronomy and Space (unit study), Letters, Numbers and Shapes (learning lapbook), or The Earth (lapbook). 

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about A Journey Through Learning.

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.


Computer Science for Kids {Crew Review}

A long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the world and computers were still a novelty, I was one of the few privileged students to be allowed to use the school computer. This was in the days of DOS when dial up meant actually plugging the phone receiver into a modem.  I remember playing Oregon Trail. I also have this vague memory of a short course in computer language.  I do not remember which language. It was fun.  I enjoyed it but never pursued it.

Now we live in an “age of technology” and some foundational or fundamental knowledge of a computer is required for almost everything!  Of course computer programming has come a long way but still learning a programing language and running a program you wrote yourself can be exciting and fun.  Recently, Turtlegirl began to express more interest in all things techno science related. Colleges are recommending Computer Science as an elective, so when Schoolhouse Review Crew offered Computer Science for Kids as a vendor, I knew I would want to try it. We could choose either Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic or Beginning Microsoft Small Basic.

We choose the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. This tutorial is:

  • Interactive
  • Self-paced
  • Written for the absolute beginner!
  • Can be used with kids ages 10+ and even adults
  • Consists of 11 Chapters
  • Includes separate file with the programing codes (Think of it as an answer key!)

The download version is not an e-book per se but rather a collection of files. The Beginning Microsoft Small Basic version contains both Microsoft Word Documents and PDF versions of each chapter. Each of the 11 chapters is one “class.” Students work at their own pace but Computer Science for Kids suggests a pace of one chapter per week.  Each chapter will take between one and six hours to complete depending on the age of the student and previous programming experience.

Using Computer Science for Kids:

I assigned Beginning Microsoft Small Basic to my three “big” girls. They were told to work for 45 minutes to 60 minutes daily.  I expected that they would complete a lesson (chapter) a week.  Because each of them worked independently, setting their own pace, they were each able to spend as much time as needed on each Tailorbear, the youngest of the three, moved at a slower pace, needing more time for each concept but was still able to move at the suggested pace of at least one lesson per week.

I originally thought that I might move the PDF files to the NOOK so that the girls could work from the NOOK with just the Small Basic Application open but the girls had no problems whatsoever with switching between windows so we did not use the NOOK nor did we need to print out any of the pages. I love that we could use this as a paperless resource!

Thoughts from Tailorbear (14, 8th grade):

I have... wondered about computer programing for a long time, but I never found the materials needed for doing it. I liked this curriculum.  It taught me how to do cool programs that make it like you’re actually “talking to” something! Put your name into a paragraph, or sentence, (input) and the computer responds! Over all this program teaches me the basic computer programming language!

Screen shot of Tailorbear's program running

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (15, 10th Grade):

I have really wanted to try computer programming, so I was thrilled when we got this. The Classes were easy to understand (except for some typos) and I really enjoyed doing this. I like how they encourage you to play around with the programs and experiment. I enjoyed typing the code and seeing what it would do as a program. I had a lot of fun using this program. For the most part, it’s simple and easy. They start you off with the most basic of the basics and then start introducing more difficult concepts. I highly recommend this for those who wish to begin their study of computer programming.

Screen Shot of Turtlegirl's program running.

Thoughts from Boobear (17, 12th Grade):

I enjoy giving the computer commands and seeing them followed. It is very satisfying to see that I made that. This curriculum makes it very easy to understand how this particular computer language works. It is also interesting to know the history behind it as well. I like creating things and seeing that they are successful, and work. It is fascinating to create programs and this curriculum makes it easy to do.

BooBear's Program

My Thoughts:

I don’t know that I would have grasped the programming language as easily as my daughters have but I think I would still be able to use this program myself to learn this programming language. It is easy to use and takes you step by step through writing a code for different applications.

I loved how much fun my girls were having and I loved how much they were enjoying learning. They enjoyed this program so much that during non-school hours they would be in the Small Basic application trying to write new programs based on the coding they had previously learned.  Sometimes they would go back to an older lesson and expand the program to include coding ideas from their current lesson.  They are all a tad bit obsessed with Doctor Who and each of them just had to create a program for which the computer would respond with Doctor who?

I was afraid this program would have been too simplistic or young for my teenagers; however, it has been an excellent fit. Challenging enough because it’s new material but simple enough that they are having fun and building their confidence.  Each of them has stated that they want to learn more about computer programming and learn more computer programming languages!

Details Summary:

  • Vendor:  Computer Science for Kids
  • Product: Beginning Microsoft Small Basic
  • Requirements:
    • XP-SP2, Vista, or Windows 7
    • Microsoft Small Basic development environment (Version 0.9 or higher)(This is FREE and link is included in the Start Here file)
    • no programming experience is necessary but student should be familiar with “common computer operation systems” such as file maintenance.
  • Recommended Ages:  Ages 10 and up
  • Price: Single User License:
    • Regular Price: $59.95
    • Sale Price: $34.95 (Sale price available until July 4th, 2013)

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