Biblical Worldview: What on Earth Can I Do? {Crew Review}

Apologia Educational Ministries is a popular publisher of home school curriculum. We’ve used several of their science texts and Supergirl and I reviewed Volume 3 of the What We Believe Series, Who Is my Neighbor?  Apologia even has a Junior Notebooking Journal to accompany this new volume and having enjoyed the 3rd book, we were delighted to review volume 4 What on Earth Can I Do?  In addition to the hard cover textbook we received a copy of the What on Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, Junior Notebooking Journal and Coloring Book. 

Worldview Curriclum Review from Circling Through This Life

What We Believe Series ~

Designed to help children learn to discern the truth, this curriculum uses God’s word as the lens to view the world. Children learn to see the world the way God sees it. There are 4 books in the series. Each book is can be used as a stand alone program, but the FAQ states that they are more effective if completed in order. I found that there is an increase in difficulty from Volume 3 to Volume 4.

About Volume 4 What on Earth Can I Do? 

Although there are only 8 lessons in this book, do not be fooled in to thinking it is a small or short study. This student-paced book has a suggested schedule of two to three weeks per lesson. These lessons or chapters are lengthy and packed full of information. All 8 lessons have the same basic structure:

  • The Big Idea ~ this is the introduction to the main topic of the lesson
  • What You Will Do ~ An boxed outline of the lesson objectives
  • Short Story ~ These stories put into action what a worldview looks like in action.
  • Think About It ~ These are thought provoking questions designed to probe deeper into the short story.  These are included with room to write out answers in the Regular Notebooking Journal.
  • Words You Need To Know and Hide It In Your Heart ~  These two sections discuss the vocabulary for the lesson and the Bible verses.  There are sections for both of these in both journals.

Junior Notebooking Hide in My Heart Page

  • Integrated Learning ~ I think these are my favorites. These are short articles with topics related to the main text. There are several of these in each chapter/lesson.  Some are very short and are about people such as Winston Churchill or Teddy Roosevelt where as others cover topics such as Beethoven’s 5th, the Victory Gardens, or Recycling.  Some articles are little longer but the topics are “designed to help students to pursue the book’s ideas and concepts across the fields of art, math, science, history, and more.” (pg xi)
  • What Should I Do? ~ This is the practical application section that highlights a specific character traits.  Some traits include “Surrender (as in surrender to God), “trustworthy,” and “initiative”.   The character trait is also included as part of the vocabulary in the “words you need to know” section.
  • Prayer ~ This is the last section of the main body of the lesson. It is a written prayer for the child to pray but “you can choose to adapt these prayers for use as a family.” (pg xi) I’ve been skipping these particular prayers and substituting from our prayer book.
  • Parables of Jesus ~ This is the final story of the lesson and is adapted from a teaching story of Jesus from the Bible. The stories are fleshed out with culturally appropriate names and details. The stories are engaging but stay true to the parable.
  • Going Deeper ~ These are discussion questions about the parable stories.
  • House of Truth ~ This is a feature that begins with book 1 and continues through the series. House of Truth comes at the end of 4 lessons.  I have skipped these but for those who want a concrete and visual way model as a hands-on memory aid, this would be perfect.

How We Used The Program ~

In the “How to Use This Book” section of the textbook is a sample lesson plan which breaks each lesson into 6 sessions. Completing two sessions per week, you should get through a lesson in about three weeks.

Supergirl Colors while I read

Both of the notebooking journals include detail lesson plans that give specific textbook reading assignments and the pages from the journal to complete. These are also divided into 6 sessions per lesson. I found though that the assignments for each session/day were too much for Supergirl and I. It is working much better for us to break each day into two or three days worth of work. Smaller amounts of information spread out over more time means we better grasp the concepts. Typically we would spend one day reading from the textbook and the next day working in the junior notebooking journal. She would color either from the coloring book or one of the coloring pages in her journal while I read aloud.

I love that the junior notebooking journal has some of the same elements as the regular one.  For example both journals have the Making Connections crossword puzzles but the junior one has larger boxes and fewer words.

What on Earth Can I Do Journal Comparisonn

I wasn’t sure if Supergirl would really be up to using the junior notebooking journal and I thought I would be playing scribe. Though I had to assist her with reading text she wrote the letters for the words in the crossword puzzle, copied bible verses, and did the word searches without needing me to do the writing! We enjoy this program and I think it’s because of the coloring pages and junior notebooking journal. Those help her process the material in the textbook readings.

One of my favorite aspects of the notebooking journal is the last page of the lesson: “Find Out More.” This is a list of resources and/or activities to do. Some lessons only have books and songs.  Some also include videos and I found an activity suggestion in Lesson 4! Supergirl really loves this aspect as she got to watch Prince of Egypt for lesson 1.  Lesson 2 suggested a book about Beethoven but as I already had a video, I substituted the DVD for the book. Peeking ahead I know she’s going to love watching King George and the Ducky! Both the Regular Journal and the Junior Journal have the resource suggestions but the lists are different and are more age appropriate for each level.

Notebooking Journal Resources Pages

But I’m not Protestant ~ Using this as an Orthodox Christian

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may recall that my family is Eastern Orthodox. So why was I excited about using a worldview curriculum from a mainly protestant point of view? First, and most importantly, because as EO Christians, we also share the calling to be good stewards. This is a Christian concept, not a denominational one. Second, this program is written to be non-denominational. Though definitely slanted with a protestant bent, it does not promote a specific denominational interpretation.

What does that mean? It means that I could use the Orthodox Study Bible to bring an an EO perspective to any of the verses used in the lessons. It means that I slightly re-worded phrases to a more Orthodox understanding. I rarely had to re-word sentences and I think I only did that in one section of lesson one. It’s important to remember this is a worldview curriculum and not a bible study. I want Supergirl to have a Christian Worldview and to understand her role as a Christian and this series, with a little modification on my part, teaches her what I want her to know. 

The Details:

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about What on Earth Can I Do? from Apologia Educational Ministries.  

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D is for Dating When Married

Dating is different when you are married.  When you are single, you date to get to know each other, to have fun, or maybe just because it’s something to do on a Friday night. Dating shouldn’t stop when you are married, but it isn’t the same at all as when you are single.

Dating when married (and let’s just lay this out here,  I’m not talking about dating *other* people, I’m talking about dating your spouse!) has a different purpose and it might even look different.  I guess I shouldn’t speak for all couples so I’ll just stick to sharing about my experience with my husband.

Before we were married we spent a lot of time together. We were in college and we would have lunch together and we spent nearly every Friday and Saturday night together.  Usually dinner and a movie.  Sometimes it was dinner at home with a movie at the cinema.  Other times it would be dinner out and renting a movie to watch at his house. There were a few college hockey games and several times we went to the theater. (I was a theater major and I got comp tickets to every performance.  The man was stuck going to plays even if I couldn’t sit with him.)

When we were married, things were  different. We had bills to pay, he had a career to develop.  Children arrived sooner than we planned. Spending time together just for the sake of spending time together ceased.  We discovered though that we still enjoyed dinners and movies and as long as there was only the one kiddo we managed to do take out and movie rentals. 

As the children grew into preschoolers and toddlers spending time as just the two of us became nearly non-existent.  We did not have anyone to leave with the girls and we would not have been able to afford a babysitter plus dinner and a movie. Taking the children with us to dinner and to a movie was not an option and certainly not a date!

We finally hit on something that worked well for us.  Friday night became date night. It just didn’t look the same.  When the girls were really really little we put them to bed just smidgen earlier than “normal” and we’d stay up later than we usually do. 

As the girls got older they would stay up later as well *but* they were allowed to watch a movie in another room or to play quietly and mom and dad would have a special snack and watch a movie or a couple of episodes of a TV show on disc.

That plan doesn’t work anymore.  If we try to  watch something, we usually have some daughter or another go “oh you’re watching Big Bang Theory/Bones/House” can we watch too.  And they’re old enough so we can’t use the “no, you’re too young” excuse.  But now that they are older it also means we can go out.  And we do.  Sometimes we go to dinner.  No not dinner and movie.  Just dinner.  It gives us a chance to talk.  Someday it might just be the two of us again and we have enough entertainment that now we just want to make sure that we’re not drifting apart. Sometimes we have boring talks as we figure out  some solution to some problem and sometimes we talk about books we’re reading or articles we’ve read.  We discuss those taboo subjects of politics and religion.  Sometimes though we go out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner.  And the girls?  They encourage us.  “Hey mom and dad, you haven’t had a date for awhile, why don’t you go out?”  I think it’s because they want to play wii or watch netflix without mom and dad around but I’ll tell myself it’s because they care about their parents relationship and want to help sustain it.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Check out this week’s letter!


Protect Your Devices ~ Trident Case {Crew Review}

When you invest money in a device such as a Kindle Fire HDX or iPad mini, you want to protect that investment, right? Trident Case has covers for many different tablets and smart phones. I received a KRAKEN A.M.S. case for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7.

So what exactly is this protective cover from Trident? It’s a study 3 piece case with two pieces forming the solid exterior made of hardened polycarbonate and a silicone interior piece.  The interior piece feels soft and rubbery. It is non-slippery. It grips your device so that it doesn’t slide around at all.

The case is form fitting. This means that each KRAKEN case is made for a specific device type. The case I have for my Kindle will not work for the other types of Kindles and it will not work for iPads or NOOKs either (though if you have those types of tablets, Trident Case has covers for those as well). The cases are clearly designed for the specific device labeled; the openings for headphones, charger and speakers are right where they are supposed to be on my Kindle. The silicone interior is designed so that you can still use the power and volume control buttons.

The KRAKEN A.M.S case for Kindle is available in 7 colors: black, gray, blue, pink, red  green or white. I choose the gray cover and I like how it looks on the black Kindle.  The exterior pieces are gray but the interior piece is black which gives a pleasing accent to the case.

Getting the case onto the device though was not nearly as easy as picking a color.  I did feel very foolish when trying to open the case. I could not figure it out. I am a new Kindle owner and this is the first time I’ve had a case like this. I was afraid I was going to break the case just getting it open! There are no instructions on the box or in the box to help me figure out how to get the case apart. Putting my device in the case was easier but the first time I tried I could not get it snap shut properly.  I had inserted the case into the back and then tried to snap on the front piece.  This is backwards.  After putting the interior piece on the device put the front piece on and then you can snap the back into place. This video is not for the Kindle device (and my case does not open that easily at all and I’ve been practicing!) but it does demonstrate the order of steps.


These are very strong, sturdy cases with a built in screen protector. The polycarbonate exterior is very light but the silicone interior is heavy.  Together the case makes the Kindle very heavy. I love the strength of the case but not so much the heaviness. Turtlegirl said her hand got tired from holding it but that it was ok if she was laying on her stomach and had the device on her bed.  Or I could just invest in the stand accessory which I think looks really cool and doubles as a handle.

I think my favorite feature is the screen protector. I have a few cookbooks on Kindle and a few PDF recipes and I always run back to the computer to check a recipe because I don’t want to risk the Kindle in the kitchen.  With the KRAKEN case from Trident though I have been keeping the Kindle Fire right on the counter when cooking.

My daughter, Tailorbear, can be very rough on things. She said she liked the case because it felt strong and she wasn’t so afraid she would break the Kindle.  If you knew her, you would understand what a big deal that statement is: the Trident case is strong enough and sturdy enough to help her feel comfortable using the Kindle Fire. And I feel more comfortable letting both Tailorbear and Supergirl use, handle, and carry the tablet.

Trident Case Logo for review at Circling Through This Life

The Details:

  • The Vender:  Trident Case
  • The Product: KRAKEN A.M.S. case for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7  
  • Age Range: These covers are for all ages.  Some device covers have more kid friendly designs and some covers will appeal more to adults but the covers can be used by all ages.
  • Price: $59.95
  • Also Available: Cases are available for different e-readers, tablets, and smartphones!
  • NOTE:  This device is specifically designed for the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and will not properly fit any of the other Kindle or Kindle Fire devices.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Trident Case.


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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.


Micro Business for Teens {Crew Review}

I have some pretty excited teens right now.  It can be difficult for a teen to get a job and yet most teens would like to have an income. My teens are no exceptions. They want their iTunes and they want this, that, and the other thing. So why are my girls excited? We received a package from Micro Business for TeensCarol Topp, author and CPA, sent us Starting a Micro Business, Running a Micro Business and Micro Business for Teens Workbook.

I expressed high interest in reviewing this product because Turtlegirl has been especially interested in finding ways to earn some money. She was the primary focus for this review but I was super excited because Boobear has a dream to own and run her own piano studio some day. In essence she has started a micro business.  I encouraged her to thumb through the books.

Tailorbear has needed more prompting and encouragement from mom, but even she is starting to think in terms of “what kind of micro business can I have? What talents or services can I offer?”

I’m not a teen but the books have inspired me to think about what *I* could do for a micro business. Wait!  I haven’t told you anything about the books. I need to share why we are so excited about these books.

Both of these small paperbacks are laid out similarly. Chapters are short but full of information.  Ms. Topp makes generous use of bullet points. Examples from real teen micro business owners appear in the side bars in boxes and in the text. Ms. Topp includes examples of things like a Financial Plan in Starting a Micro Business or Marketing Plan in Running a Micro Business.  Each chapter ends with a summary of key points.

Starting a Micro Business

In the homeschooling world there seems to be high emphasis (at least in some circles) on entrepreneurship.  I see lots of materials on the market geared at home schooling teens to help them become entrepreneurs.  Being an entrepreneur just doesn’t appeal to me but I couldn’t have told you why.  Now I can.

In Starting a Micro Business, Ms. Topp explains the difference between a micro business and entrepreneurship. The primary difference is risk. Entrepreneurs are risk takers. That distinction is important for me.

Starting a Micro Business has seven chapters plus an introduction. In these seven chapters, Ms. Topp walks you through starting a micro business.  She explains what a micro business is and then goes on in the next chapter to offer suggestions of ideas best suited for teenagers. She’ll help teens write a business plan, write a financial plan and gives helpful information on how to finance your business.

In Chapter six, teens will find additional information such as who to contact for vendor licensing.  The final chapter offers encouragement.  I particularly like chapter 3 which lists potential pitfalls and problems of some traditional teen micro businesses. 

Running a Micro Business

Cover image Micro Business for Teens  Running bookOnce you’ve started a business, there are certain things you need to know such as how to market your business, how to provide customer service, what records to keep and some basic bookkeeping. In nine chapters, Carol Topp gives us those as well as explaining legal names, whether or not to get a taxpayer number for your business and even covers such topics as “Reducing Risk” and “Time Management.”

I can’t decide if my favorite chapter of Running a Micro Business is the customer service chapter or the last chapter, “Time Management.”  As a customer, I know how important customer service is and I am pleased that Ms. Topp emphasizes how important good customer service is to the success of any business.

Micro Business for Teens Workbook

This workbook is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to fully implement the suggestions in the books.  There are 14 chapters that cover information from both of Starting and Running books.  The workbook also draws from her website.  For example in chapter seven, “Encouragement” she refers students to her blog and has them read at least three stories and then share in the workbook how they encouraged the student.

In addition, in the How to Use This book section, there is a link to a 60 minute video. It is not necessary to watch the video to complete the workbook as the workbook is “designed to be used in conjunction with the Micro Business for Teens books.” (pg. 5)

I love that Micro Business for Teens Workbook gives the teen (or young adult or stay at home mom!) step by step fill in the blank templates for creating a marketing plan or designing business cards. I appreciate that Ms. Topp gets the teens to really think through their ideas and explore 3-5 ideas before selecting one to focus on.

The Workbook states to read the corresponding chapter in the book and then complete the pages in the workbook. It also states that if you complete one chapter a week you should complete the workbook in about 3 months.  Students are encouraged to have a mentor while working through the program.

Turtlegirl read both books first and then started working through the workbook. This has worked well for her because she was able to get a full overview of setting up and running a microbusiness and gave her time to let the suggestions, tips and ideas percolate.  As she works through each chapter of the workbook, she keeps the book handy to refresh her memory.

Thoughts From TurtleGirl:

Ms. Topp was very informative. She clearly laid out the advice, suggestions, and basic information. She also included little inspirational quotes sprinkled through the chapters which I enjoyed. She really helped me understand how to plan the business. I like how she included examples of what not to do. She also gave examples of what a business plan looks like, what a marketing plan looks like, and what a financial plan looks like. Those are extremely helpful to have when trying to plan a business. Another thing I liked was that she included ideas for microbusinesses in Starting a Micro business. That helped me decide what I wanted to do. My microbusiness is still in the planning stage, but I wouldn’t have been able to get that far without the help I got from the books. So, thank you Ms. Topp!

My Thoughts:

I have loved hearing my girls discuss their business ideas with each other. Boobear has been teaching piano to two students for some time now.  These books, especially  Running a Micro Business, have helped her making decisions. She has a marketing plan, a logo idea, and she’s talked with others about pricing. Turtlegirl hasn’t started her business yet but it’s exciting to hear her discuss her tagline and to hear her initial marketing plans.

I am impressed enough with both books and the workbook that I will be purchasing Money and Taxes in a Micro Business. Boobear is particularly interested and specifically requested it.  If you or your teen want to start a micro business I strongly recommend these books!

The Details:

  • The Vender:  Micro Business for Teens
  • The Product: Starting a Micro Business ($9.95), Running a Micro Business ($9.95), and Starting a Micro Business Workbook ($14.95).
  • The Author: Carol Topp
  • Format: I received paperback versions.  An eBook Version is also available
  • Age Range: These books are aimed at teens but I think mature 11 and 12 year olds as well as college students would benefit from these books.  Stay at home moms, like myself might also find these books useful for setting up and running micro businesses from home.
  • Also Available:  Carol Topp also offers, Money and Taxes in a Micro Business
  • NOTE:  I suggest reading both Starting a Micro Business and Running a Micro Business before actually starting your business. The two books really do go hand in hand.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Micro Business for Teens. 

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 to find more great products.


Random 5 {May 16th Edition}

I think I’ve skipped a couple of weeks.  Oops.

1.  Today is May 16th. Thinking of my grandfather, my father’s father today.  Yesterday was the anniversary of the passing of my grandmother (my father’s mother.)  I remember telling my mom that I think Grandma chose to go when she did so that she could celebrate Poppy’s birthday with him.  No my theology doesn’t really support that idea but I find it comforting anyway.

2.  Boobear is finishing up her first year of college.  She has finals next week.  Though she’s still “living at home” she really hasn’t been around much so having her home all day during the summer will be an adjustment.

3.  I’ve said this about a million times (ok maybe not that many times) but May is my favorite month of the year here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  The weather this week has been “hot” as in we’ve hit upper 70’s (the house hit almost 80 degrees yesterday).  The sun shines, it’s not really too hot but plenty warm.  Just gorgeous!

4.  I did not get pictures this year so I’ll just substitute an old picture but the rhododendron bushes are in bloom.  Well the first one with the more pink flowers is on the dying side. The flowers part not the bush.  The red one is still in full bloom.  This means lots of bumble bees and other bees.


5.  We keep talking about a garden but I’m not certain we’ll actually get one done this year.  I do hope so.  I enjoyed it last year.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


C is for Christian Charity

Over the past several days I’ve been pondering my own behavior in light of some behavior that I would classify as not being Christian at all.  I have to wonder; I have to ask myself, as I am judging another, how far do I fall from the standard? When I am disgusted, angered, or hurt by mockery (whether directed at me or directed at people I care about), I must ask, am I without sin?  Can I really cast the first stone?

I’ve been asking myself how often have I failed to act with Christian Charity or Christian love towards my “neighbor.”  How many times have I laughed at a joke that was really mocking someone? How many times I have been the one to make or share a joke that really could have hurt someone? 

C is for Christian Charity circling through this life

Facebook can be a great way to connect with people. I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with loved ones, both family and friends, who live so far away. I can stay connected to friends I care about but our lives move in different circles. I also love how I can make new friends.  I have some amazing friends through FB that I hope to meet In-Real-Life someday.  They share my faith and I love them like brothers and sisters.

But (you knew there was a but coming right?) Facebook has some serious drawbacks. It is easy to forget that the person we are arguing with is really a human being with real feelings. This person may very well have background issues that have gone unspoken but affect their perspective. It’s easy on FB to get all theoretical and hypothetical.  It’s easy to make generalizations. I am guilty of this. I get so caught up in being right or wanting to fix some injustice I perceive on the world wide web and instead I end up not seeing the human. It doesn’t matter if I disagree.  It doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong. Humans are made in the image of God and I need to see those words on the screen as coming from a real live human being.  Even when I don’t think they act like much of a human. or maybe, just maybe *because* I don’t think they are acting like much of a human.

It’s also easy to slip into meanness, mockery, and the tearing down of human beings and call it “satire” or “parody”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bit of satire.  I’ve enjoyed many parodies, but after this past week, I’ve had to stop and ask myself, is this mocking a human being?  Is this really innocent fun?  Am I hurting somebody if I click like on that meme? 

What is Christian charity? Well I’d like to define it in very simple terms.  Love.  Love God and love your neighbor. We are told that they (the world?) will know us by our love.  Love in English is a difficult word because it has many layers of meaning.  I’m not going to do a word study on love (at least not this week) but love doesn’t just mean mushy gushy feel good.  Sure affection can be a part of it but I can love someone and not like them.  I can demonstrate  Christian charity by showing respect. I can demonstrate Christian charity when I have compassion for my fellow human beings. So am I being a Christian if my behavior does not line up with love? Am I loving my neighbor when I make fun of [insert whatever my “neighbor” does that I don’t like]

I know that I am a hypocrite. I don’t think I realized just how big of a hypocrite I really am. May God have mercy on me a sinner and may I strive to remember that real humans are behind the screen of words.

I came across this quote and I think I need to apply it to my own life, daily:

Has a brother been the occasion of some trial for you and has your resentment led you to hatred? Do not let yourself be overcome by this hatred, but conquer it with love. You will succeed in this by praying to God sincerely for your brother and by accepting his apology; or else by conciliating him with an apology yourself, by regarding yourself as responsible for the trial and by patiently waiting until the cloud has passed.
( St Maximos the Confessor)

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Check out this week’s letter!

You can read more of Tess’s Alphabet Blogging Posts by clicking HERE.


Heroes and Heroines ~ American History {Crew Review}

If you are familiar at all with my blog, then you might already know that I favor a literature approach to studying history. A literature approach doesn’t mean only reading books. History is easier to understand, and easier to retain when it comes alive for you.  Living books, along with the opportunity for exploration, can bring history to life.

Golden Prairie Press has a complete history program for elementary aged students.  Digital Heroes and Heroines of the past: American History is a living book with additional book suggestions, map work, timelines, and crafts to help students explore, understand and learn about American History from the very first discoveries through the present.

But Heroes and Heroines isn’t just History ~

Author/editor, Amy Puetz, has included music and art! Some of the lessons even explore the food related to history. When discussing foods from the New World, we read a short history of the Cocoa Bean and Amy had included a recipe for drinking chocolate. Other sections are called Cooking Up Some History and might include a recipe from that time era like Peas Porridge from the late 18th century.

But wait there’s more! Here let me list the different activities you’ll find through the program.  Not all the assignments/activities are included for every lesson, but I like that because it creates variety.


Sections in Almost Every Lesson ~

  • Questions ~ these are at the end of every lesson.  This section has 3-5 comprehension style questions based on the lesson reading.
  • Writing Topics ~  One or two ideas such as “imagine you are a person at the Spanish Court. Write what you think Columbus says to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
  • Geography ~ Many of the lessons include maps. Questions are similar to “find and trace the path Magellan took”
  • Memory Verse ~ This is an activity I’ve been skipping since we’ve been working on memorization from Sunday School, but the program does include suggestions for a Bible Memory Verses for most lessons.

Other Activities and Assignment Suggestions ~

  • Crafts ~ Such as making a canoe or a pueblo house out of play dough (recipe included!).
  • Timeline ~ The additional resources CD has several different timelines for the different eras.  Each era offers different options such as one that has the dates but the other columns are empty or has the dates and the event filled in but the person is blank.
  • Listen to Some History ~ MP3 files of things like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”,  “The Constitution”,  “The Gettysburg Address”
  • Sing Some History ~ MP3 files of songs from different time periods like “Sweet Betsy from Pike” or “Yankee Doodle”
  • Cooking up Some History ~ We’ve only encountered the Hot Chocolate so far but I’m looking forward to Part 2 where I’ve found recipes for Skillet Bread and Fricassee Chicken!
  • Act it Out ~ Skits for acting out history are in the included Historical Skits e-book.  With only one 1st grade student, we’re not using these but as a theater major, I would be all over these if I were using it with a co-op or had multiple children in my family using this program.
  • Games ~ Some of the lessons even have an historical game to play such as “I have a Basket.”
  • Literature Suggestions for 5th and 6th Graders ~ These make great read aloud suggestions for the younger grades as well.  These books are listed as optional on the website but a great way to “beef up” the program for an older student or students that read well or want to explore the lesson content a bit more.

Supergirl works on her timeline with her homeschool history

How the Program is Organized ~

The heart of the program is the actual book Heroes and Heroines of the Past ~ American History.  This ginormous curriculum is divided into two parts.  Part 1 covers from 1000 AD to 1837 AD.  Part 2 picks up where Part 1 ends in 1837 and continues to the present.  Heroes is then subdivided into “Periods” such as the Period of Discovery,  The Formation of the Union, The Civil War, The Period of National Expansion and more! Each time period is broken down further into sections and each section is subdivided into individual lessons.

Each lesson has a reading for 1st-2nd grade or 3rd-6th grade.  Sometimes the reading is listed as 1st-6th grade.  These can be read aloud by the parent or read alone by strong readers.  The 3rd-6th grade reading immediately follows the 1st-2nd grade part. The activities follow the reading.

At the end of each time period, there a list of recommended resources that you can include for a deeper exploration.  We were able to find many of these for the Period of Discovery at our library.

How We’ve Been Using It ~

On the website, Amy states that the program contains 30 weeks of instruction and that each lesson can take anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 hour.  That is a large chunk of time for Supergirl.  We kept our history explorations to about 1/2 hour or less depending on what we choose to do.

Are you overwhelmed by reading my description?  I was overwhelmed when I read through the website but implementing the program has been much easier than I thought. We’ve been doing “history” an average of 3 days per week.  What that looks like each day varies greatly.

Some days we would just read the lesson and answer questions and the next day we might look at a book from the recommend resources and do the geography activity. We paused during the the 3 lessons related to Columbus (Columbus part 1, Columbus part 2, and Columbus and Son).  We did most, if not all, of the activities including creatingA hammock for a baby doll Elementary American History Reivew a hammock and read through the recommended Jean Fritz book about Columbus. I even added in a DVD that we own about Columbus. Since our history week is only 3 days long it took us nearly 3 weeks to get through three lessons! But we had so much fun and Supergirl is just fascinated with Columbus and the explorers. 

In looking ahead both Supergirl and I are looking forward to reading about Pocahontas and learning about the early colonies.  I’m thinking that it would be fun to pull out some of the pieces we made with Amy’s Costumes with Character book we reviewed a few years ago and play dress up as a modified variation of using the Historical Skits eBook.

My Thoughts:

Overall Supergirl and I are enjoying this program. There’s just a couple of things I’d love to see changed.  The PDF is very difficult to navigate.  It would be so much easier to use if the page numbers of the program matched the page numbers of the PDF file so that I could type in a page and go straight to where I left off.  It would also be helpful if the PDF formatting would include bookmarks or thumbnails.  I do highly recommend using the Kindle Fire or another tablet as that made it much easier to use the PDF book.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would like having the whole program in digital format but it has worked well for us especially since I received a Kindle Fire from my family.  I can have the historical art picture on my laptop from the Additional Resources CD and I can have the eBook with the questions open on my Kindle.

Golden Prarie Press elementary American History

The Details:

  • The Vender:  Golden Prairie Press
  • The Product: Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History
  • The Author: Amy Puetz
  • Format: Digital (a physical version is also available)
  • Age Range: Designed for students in 1st to 6th grade
  • Price:  $98.99
  • Includes: 3 eBook (the two main parts in PDF format, and the Historical Skits eBook in PDF format), and additional resources “CD” and two Audio Zip Files (Sing Some History and Listen to Some History).
  • NOTE:  Samples are available on the product page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and find the links within the descriptions. There’s even an optional coloring book you can purchase!

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History from Golden Prairie Press.  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 to find more great products.


B is for Berries

I’m nuts for berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and even the non-berry strawberries. Right now as I type I’m drinking a yogurt mixed berry smoothie that my daughter, Boobear, made in the Vitamix.

Berry season is starting.  Farmer’s market season is upon us.  For me that’s a bit like heaven on earth. During berry season, I bring home at least 1 flat (usually 2 or 3) every time I go to the Farmer’s market.  And you know what? That doesn’t seem to be enough.  We go to the market on pay day weekends.  So that means only every other weekend.  I always have the intention of freezing some of the berries or making jam but usually we end up just eating them.

B is for Berries at Circling Through This Life

Oh I don’t mean just eating them by the handful.  We do plenty of that as well. But home made muffins with fresh raspberries or blueberries along with some yogurt is a wonderful breakfast. Blackberry cobbler or blackberry crisp? yes please.  And then of course there are things like raspberries in heavy cream or strawberry shortcake.  Or fresh berries on top of pancakes or waffles or even in the pancakes or waffles.

I do buy a giant bags of frozen mixed berries and  giant bags of frozen strawberries from Costco during the winter but as tasty as though are it just isn’t the same as sweet berries that were picked fresh that morning and brought to the farmer’s market.

I look out my window and I see wild blackberry bushes.  One year we had quite a picking from our own yard.  I wonder if we’ll get any this year.  That would be lovely.

I can’t decide which berry is my favorite.  Do you have a favorite berry? Do you have a favorite berry recipe?

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Classical Music for Children: Maestro Classics {Crew Review}

My oldest daughter has a love of classical music. She’s a piano performance major with a passion for sharing music with children. Having a bit of familiarity with Maestro Classics from a CD we received as a gift a few years ago, Boobear, Supergirl and I were both super excited when the Schoolhouse Review Crew provided an opportunity to review two CD’s: My Name is Handel The Story of Water Music and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.Maestro Classics Review Collage

Both of these CD’s are part of the Stories in Music series and feature the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Stephen Simon a conductor. The stories are narrated by Yadu.

My Name is Handel ~ The Story of Handel’s ‘Water Music’

This one was destined to be my favorite. I have had a soft spot in my heart for Handel for over 30 years.  I love The Messiah. I wasn’t sure if I was familiar with “Water Music” but once I heard it on this CD, I realized I did know this famous piece and love it. Cover image of My Name is Handel Maestro Classics Review

The CD has 6 tracks for a total playing time of just under 49 minutes! The first track is the longest and is 38 minutes long.  This is “The Story of Water Music”  Interspersed with music we learn a bit about Handel such as his love for Italian opera, how he became the court composer for the Elector of Hanover.  We learn that he was away from the court of Hanover for 4 years.  We are introduced to Handel’s most successful Italian opera.  Water Music was first performed on a barge! The first track also includes The Halleluiah Chorus from the Messiah. I do wish that they would have included a separate track just for the movements of Water Music. I also wish that the first track would have been divided some how as it was quite difficult to listen to all at once.

Track 2 gives more information about Handel and The Story.  It is only 3 1/2 minutes long.  Track 4 at 5 1/2 minutes is a more formal educational talk about the music of Handel. Tracks 3, 5, and 6 are related to the song “My Name is Handel” a fun song for children to sing set to Water Music theme.

And speaking of listening, one time, while listening to “The Story of Water Music”  (Track 1), Supergirl started moving her hands as if she was conducting and stated “I just love this music!”  It has also become quite usual and normal to hear her sing “My name is Handel. George Frederick Handel.” I love that in the activity book they include some sheet music so she and Boobear could “perform”.

Sisters bond with classical music for children

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was originally a story told almost 2000 years ago. The story became a poem and the poem became basis of Dukas’ composition. The original composition by Dukas did not contain any narration at all! This CD has a play time 41:24.  The story, music and narration, is just over 11 1/2 minutes long and is the first Cover image, The Socerer's Apprentice Maestro Classics Reviewtrack.  You can hear the March of the Brooms theme on track 3 and hear the original instrumental version with track 5.   Educational informational is presented in tracks 2 and 4.  Tracks 6 & 7 are fun “prepare to play” and “play-along”.  Supergirl loved using an empty plastic milk jug and a “wooden” spoon for a percussion instrument to tap out a steady beat.

I had no idea of the story behind the story. I did not know it was so old or that the moral of the story had changed over time!  I loved that the CD includes the history o the original story. Supergirl shared with me: “I love the music but not the story.  I like the story but not the dreaming part.”

The Activity Books:

Each of the CD’s does come with a 24 page activity boo.  The types of activities varied greatly between the two titles we received, but both were full color, beautiful, and enhanced our studies.

The Water Music activity book had more informational pages than pencil activities. There is a section on the important churches in London during that time and a biographical section.  In addition there is a two page spread explaining the orchestra in Handel’s time.  My music major daughter loved that there were sections on both the piano and the harpsichord.   She’s excited because she is required to take a harpsichord class.

Tailorbear explores Marches with Brooms

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice activity book had more “paper and pen” type activities such as a crossword puzzle, dot to dots and a de-coding exercise. Our favorite, or rather Supergirl’s favorite was the play-along.  Like the other activity book, this one had a section on the orchestra but unlike Water Music, focused on pitched percussion or mallet instruments.  There’s even a page for “Kitchen Percussion” with different rhythms to try.

Using these CD’s in our Homeschool:

These are intended to be educational as well as entertaining and Maestro Classics makes it easy to incorporate these music appreciation CD’s into home schooling. They even offer home school curriculum guides!  Using their guides or purchasing something from their education resources, you could do unit studies covering history, science, language arts, and more.

Sometimes we listened to a CD during lunch.  It’s easier for all of us to pay attention if we have something to do.  Once we even listened to a CD in the van. Often Supergirl would listen with Boobear in their bedroom just laying on their beds and absorbing the music.

Supergirl colors while listening to My Name is Handel

Supergirl really enjoyed the play-along bits included with both CD’s.  I also checked out the free guides I linked above. I decided to just stick with listening to the CD’s, working on the sing/play-alongs, coloring pictures while listening to the CD and reading the activity booklet.   

My Family’s Thoughts:

It  is not quite unanimous that we all preferred The Story of Water Music over The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  I am not sure but I think  it is because we prefer Handel’s composition style over Dukas’s. Handel is baroque whereas Dukas was an impressionist. Boobear was hard pressed though to pick a preference because “they’re music.  I love music.  I loved them both.”  I made her pick and she did say Handel.

Turtlegirl reads to Supergirl classical music for children

Tailorbear really did not care for the story, “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” because she felt bad for the boy.  I think she would rewrite the story to include a chance for redemption for the apprentice. She thinks the sorcerer was a “touch harsh”.   She did think the music was “amazing and helped set the atmosphere for the story.”  She confided in me that even though she didn’t like the story, she did prefer this CD over the other other one because “it was a real story and not a history lesson.” 

In short?  We love them. These are going on the Christmas wish list as I would like to own all of them. classical music for children Maestro Classics review

The Details:

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog what others have to say about Maestro Classics. Each reviewer chose two titles from 4 choices.

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 to find more great products.


My Favorite Holiday of the Year: Pascha!!! {Favorite Anything}

Two weeks ago both East and West celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Eastern Orthodox Christians use the term Pascha which means Passover. But whatever it is called it is my favorite holiday of the year!

4 1/2 years ago someone said to me that Pascha was his children’s favorite holiday.  The children even liked it more than Christmas. Yes, I was skeptical. Children who like Easter more than Christmas?  Really?  I could not, at that time, even imagine that I would like Easter better than Christmas and I’m an adult. Ha! Guess what?  My whole family declares Pascha to be the best and most favorite holiday of the year.

I think that part of the reason we love the Pascha celebration so much is directly related to the fact that we spend so much time during Great Lent and Holy Week preparing, remembering and focusing (at least in theory) on our spiritual walk.  Though we celebrate with an awesome Easter Treat Hunt and a huge Agape Feast, it’s not about the candy.  It’s not about the food.  It’s not even about lent being over.  (Ok maybe a little bit about lent being over and surviving lent.)  It’s about celebrating the victory over Death.  It’s about realizing that Jesus Christ accomplished and finished what He came to do when took on human flesh at His incarnation. 

Christ is Risen from the dead
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Here are some pictures from Pascha 2010 through 2014!

Pascha Basket Collage

 Pascha Variety Pack Collage

Family Portrait Collage

Pascha 2013 Family

Favorties Graphic

Do you have a favorite holiday? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment to share your favorite holiday.  Have a blog post about your favorite book, actor, hymn, Bible verse or anything that is your  favorite? Then come link up. Be sure and visit the other blogs linked up to see what their favorite anything is this week.

Rules for linking up:

  1. Post must talk about something that is your favorite.  It doesn’t have to be the same topic as my favorite post this week but it must be about something that is your favorite.
  2. Please include a link back to my blog.  You are welcome to grab the button from the sidebar to include in your post.


A is for Anything but … for dinner.

Pascha was nearly two weeks ago and with Pascha it meant the long fast was over. Tailorbear suggested I blog about “anything but tofu for dinner” but we really didn’t eat tofu this time.  Though in years past I would agree.  By this time it would be “Anything but tofu.”

Anything but shrimp

I’m not a huge fan of shrimp but I have discovered ways to make it tolerable. We ate shrimp frequently during Lent.  I’m thinking “anything but shrimp.”  We also ate a lot of fish and chicken.  When I suggested we have chicken stir fry for dinner two nights ago I was met with eye rolls, heavy sighs and “no please. Anything but chicken.”

I hadn’t planned on serving fish, chicken or shrimp at all during Bright Week.  We’d have beef and pork.  Um, note to self.  There really is such a thing as too much ground beef. Lasagna Hot Dish followed by Cheeseburger Pie with Hamburger Gravy served on the third day? Guess what I started to say?  “Please, can we have anything but ground beef for dinner.”  We interrupted the streak of ground beef meals with bbq pork sandwiches and a lovely more traditional holiday ham meal but then it was Friday and I had to have spaghetti and meatballs.  It’s Tradition!  (Join me in singing “It’s Tradition!” from Fiddler on the Roof).  Yup during Bright Week, usually on Friday but sometimes on Wednesday, I must make my father’s sausage and meatballs with stuffed peppers sauce.  It must be served over both spaghetti and penne.

Tonight I’ll be having roast beef sandwiches a la Arby’s (date night with the husband!) and the girls will be eating home made potato soup with LOTS of ham and cheese.  And this weekend?  Fish and chicken will be back on the rotation. We had two weeks of no fish and no chicken.  Shrimp?  Nope.  I’m still thinking “anything but shrimp for dinner.”

What about you?  Do you have seasons where you eat more of one kind of food than another?  Are there meals that you love but get tired off and must swap them out for something else?  I’d love it if you share a menu plan item with me in the comments!

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