Teaching High School Language Arts: Resources

Perhaps it would be better to list it as English Resources or Resources for Teaching Literature and Composition.  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I’ve had the opportunity to use several different programs including those focused more on literature, those focused more on writing skills, and those that strive to teach one through the other.

Homeschooling High School at Circling Through This Life

These are my most favorite resources for teaching Language Arts or English at the high school level.  They are listed in no particular order.

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

I fell in love with IEW’s approach to teaching writing about 5 years ago when I first reviewed Teaching Writing Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive C. This is a high school level writing program that teaches parents and teachers how to teach writing. The program can be adapted to add grammar and literature for a full English course. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to review the revised brand new updated Teaching Writing Structure and Style.

TWSS and SWI together form a solid foundation to teach writing skils to all students but is easily adapted for special need learners.

I also love and use their High School Essay Intensive.  Both Turtlegirl and Boobear have used this as part of their prep for learning how to write high school level essays and for prepping for the essay portion of the SAT.  The essay portion of the SAT will become optional but Boobear tells me that HS Essay Intensive helped prep her for all the little essays and short papers she has had to write in college.

Learning Language Arts Through Literature

I was first introduced to LLATL at  small homeschool group meeting where moms were doing a kind of show and tell of the curriculum they were using. My oldest wasn’t quite 3 years old at the time and my youngest hadn’t even been conceived yet! I loved that it was a complete language arts program that taught writing through great literature. We even used LLATL for a few years when the girls were, you know, old enough to do school.

Learning Language Arts has at least TWO High School level programs available: The Gold Book which covers British Literature and includes novels such as Emma by Jane Austen and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and the Silver book which covers American literature.

Writing with Sharon Watson

We’ve had the privilege of using and reviewing two programs from Writing with Sharon Watson. The first is a writing curriculum Writing Fiction [in High School].  I recommend this program for students who want to right fiction especially a full novel. I think it pairs nicely with NaNoWriMo.

Tailorbear works on her Novel Notebook, thinking about the book she is reading for When Worlds Collide literature program.

The other is my current favorite high school Literature program. This is what we are using right now with Tailorbear: Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. I do have to point out that I love how thoroughly this program teaches literary analysis. This doesn’t use the typical selections found in so many other programs but I found it a refreshing change.

Please go visit these blogging friends of mine from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Find out what they have to say about Homeschooling Language Art in the High School!

Carol from Home Sweet life shares Homeschooling High School- Language Arts (&History!)

Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares Teaching Language Arts in High School: Curriculum and Activity Choices

Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays shares Language Arts

Wendy from Life at Rossmont shares Highschool Language Arts

Erica from Be the One shares Language Arts Resources

Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break shares History in the Form of Stories

Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Teaching High School English

Gena from I Choose Joy shares Homeschool High School: Using Socratic Discussion for Literature Studies

Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares How to Teach High School Language Arts Without Tears

Come back next month for another installment of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop!


Middlebury Interactive Languages {Crew Review}

Turtlegirl loves languages. She fell in love with French a year ago when we had the opportunity to review the first semester of High School French I, one of the French Courses from Middlebury Interactive Languages. She is thrilled that she gets to complete the course by using the second semester this year!

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers courses from Kindergarten through High School. They offer these world languages: French, German, Spanish, and Chinese. Courses are classified as Elementary K-2, Elementary 3-5, Middle School, High School, Fluency, and Advanced Placement (AP).

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ world languages curriculum for homeschoolers

The homeschool world languages curriculum can be taken as a self-paced independent study or families can choose to opt for the guidance of a certified virtual teacher. Some features of the curriculum, such as grading of speaking and writing lessons, are only available with the teacher option. The Schoolhouse Review Crew received six months of access to the self-paced independent study course. Six months is plenty of time to finish one semester if the student completes one unit per week. With 18 weeks of lessons, the student should still be able to take breaks for holidays.

High School French 1 (Second Semester)

High School French 1 has no prerequisites for beginning the first semester but the student should have completed semester 1 or the equivalent before beginning the second semester. The second semester picks up right after the Semester One Final. There is no review of semester one materials before beginning the second semester. This makes sense logically as a traditional school year would begin with semester one in the fall and continue with semester two in the spring. Turtlegirl did things a little differently, having completed the semester one course a year ago and did not immediately come back to French for the second semester.

Because the second semester immediately follows the first, unit numbers begin at 19. There are a total of 18 units. Each unit has 5 lessons. The course pace requires students to complete one lesson each school day in order to finish in 18 weeks for one semester or 36 weeks for the full course.

Each lesson has several different parts. Not every lesson contains all the activities but throughout each week’s unit you’ll find activities covering:

  • Vocabulary ~ Lesson one of every unit begins with unit objects and then gives an overview of all the new vocabulary for that unit. Lessons 2 and 3 continue to explore that new vocabulary in specific activity sets such as warm up and matching.
  • Speaking ~ Speaking skills are practiced throughout the unit including vocabulary activities. There are also specific pronunciation practices.
  • Listening ~ Listening activities target listening comprehension. In one activity, students listen to a conversation and then fill in the blanks. In another activity, students listen for particular vocabulary words and select which ones they heard. Turtlegirl tells me she usually misses at least one but she can repeat the activity if she needs more practice.
  • Writing ~ There are grammar activities as well as dictation activities. Some writing activities involve real life type situations such as responding to an email from a pen pal.

Online Language Learning with Middlebury Interactive Langauges includes grammar!

  • Reading ~ The primary activity for reading is to read a passage and take a quiz about it.
  • French Speaking Culture ~ There is a video about some aspect of the culture and then a quiz. The culture explorations are not limited to just France. Students are introduced to the foods, sports, holidays, geography, history, and climate of other French speaking locales.
  • Life Long Learner Goals ~ The student sets her own goals for these types of activities. Some of the suggestions include incorporating French into your speaking day, listening to music in French, and finding a native speaker and talking with them. Turtlegirl mostly listens to music in French.

Each unit builds on the previous units, so units do need to be completed in order. Students can repeat activities if they need more practice. Simply click the reset button and try again. Turtlegirl finds that very helpful when she is working with a difficult concept.

Although the speaking exercises are not automatically graded, the activities are still important and Turtlegirl uses headphones and a microphone to practice speaking. She is able to compare her recording to the program. The exception is the “Conversation Station” exercise. She must understand what is being said to her and respond verbally. These responses are recorded and credit is given for participation but with the self-paced option there is no teacher feedback.

Some things to know about the Self-Paced Independent Study Option

1. The calendar feature is for the  Virtual Teacher option. It comes prepopulated with lessons assigned to dates. It is not necessary to follow these dates at all. We choose to bypass the calendar and access the lessons through the Table of Contents.

The Table of Contents helps you keep track of where you are in the program!

2. Most of the activities are graded automatically by the program, however, there are some writing and speaking assignments that require teacher grading.

Turtlegirl's Thoughts:

I really love Middlebury. I especially love the built-in reviews. During the 2nd and 3rd lessons of a unit, before learning a new grammar concept or a new word, you review the ones you've already learned. I really appreciated that. I also appreciate that in lesson 1 of each unit, there is a list of all the vocabulary that will be learned in the unit. I like that in each quarter, one before the mid-term and one after the mid-term, there is a French-speaking culture that we explore. I really enjoy learning French with this program.

For more on Turtlegirl’s thoughts and a description of the program from her point of view you can read my review of the first semester of HS French I. 

 Middlebury Interactive Langauges ~ homeschool langauge curriculum


The Details:

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review ~ Language Learning for Homschoolers

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

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Random Five September 25 Edition (on September 26)

I know.  Last week I posted on Saturday.  That was not planned.  This week however it is planned because I wanted to post my USAopoly Review on Friday.  Did you see it? Fun games for the whole family.  This has been a busy week!

1.  Sunday was the post feast of the Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross.  I love this service. Maybe I love it because it’s the very first Orthodox Service that I ever attended.  This is from the vespers service:

As the Cross is lifted up, it urges all of creation to praise the immaculate Passion of the One Who was lifted up thereon. For by means of the Cross, He slew him that slew us; and He made the dead to live again, making them beautiful, granting them the Heavens as dwelling-place, because He is compassionate, in the unsurpassed and unspeakable excess of His goodness. With joy, then, let us all exalt His Name, while magnifying His infinite condescension toward our race.

2.  Boobear dyed her hair with henna. We called it Weasley hair as she definitely would have fit into the Weasley family with this carrot top look. Over the course of several days the orange color deepened to a beautiful shade of red. She explained that the color deepens and changes because the henna was still oxidizing. She also dyed my hair with henna. The gray in my hair was a carrot orange and the rest was a lovely auburn. I wasn’t too happy with the streaks of orange but decided they were better than gray.  After a few days those have turned more red and look like highlights.  I love it now! Red and not gray!

3.  I took Turtlegirl to her first concert. Well she came with me to a concert I wanted to go to:  Duran Duran. We went with some friends of mine. (sigh, just typing that puts Friends of Mine running through my head.) This is the second time that I have seen them in concert the day before my birthday. Seeing Duran Duran in concert with my newly henna’d hair made me almost forgot that I was an old married woman with adult children. I screamed just as much, if not more than, I did at the concert I saw when I was 21. I had so much fun singing, dancing, and yes, screaming with my friends and Turtlegirl!


4.  My birthday was this week. (um you couldn’t tell right?) Instead of a traditional birthday cake we had Birthday Cheesecake!

Birthday Cheesecake

5.  I am entering a new chapter or season in my life. I want to talk about that separately later.  Just say things are changing around here and life is getting more crazy!


Family Fun with USAopoly Games {Crew Review}

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you might already know that my family loves board games. We often schedule days just for playing games and our family plans holidays around game playing. It isn’t Thanksgiving if we don’t play a game. The girls know that there is going to be at least one new game to open and play at Christmas. Knowing that we love games, I was excited to see USAopoly on the list for Crew Reviews. They generously provided two games for us to enjoy: Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game.

Two great games for family game night~ read Tess's reviw at Circling Through This Life


I thought that I had never heard of USAopoly before seeing them listed as an upcoming vendor for the crew. Then I started poking around the website. I may not have recognized the name but my family actually had at least one game created by them! USAopoly has been publishing board games since 1994. Some of their games are themed games licensed from other companies. Really like Harry Potter? Firefly? Maybe you’re a family of Whovians like us. They publish themed versions of popular games. But, they also publish original games such as Wonky and Tapple.

Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone

Tapple is a fast paced family friendly word game that requires no spelling! This would be a great game to play at parties as I think the more people playing it the more fun it would be. It is listed for 2-8 players and I think 6-8 would be ideal! And you can play as teams.

The Tapple wheel is made of sturdy plastic. The timer is a large red button at the center and the category cards are conveniently stored in the bottom. There are 36 cards with a combined total of 144 categories.  Categories are divided into easier cards on side and more challenging topics on the other.

Family Fun!

I thought we would be able to adapt this game so that all 6 of us could play but Supergirl’s disabilities made it more complicated that I first thought. We started by allowing her to have twice the amount of time. If the buzzer went off, which it did frequently for her, she got to tap it again for another 10 seconds.  We also found that we had to be more fuzzy with the words because she didn’t quite grasp the concept of listing items in the same category but with different things. I think the more we play it, the more she’ll grasp the concept and then we will be able to just use the time adaptation and be able to play the game as a whole family.

Tapple isn’t just fun entertainment. The Tapple wheel can be used for school time too! I decided that since Supergirl wasn’t really able to enjoy playing the game with us we would use it make school a little more fun. USAopoly lists some suggestions for learning time with Tapple. I used it primarily to help her with thinking and processing. We turned the timer off and I would pick a category and encourage her to think of as many things as could with different letters. This helped her solidify the first letter/first sound connection. USAopoly also suggests using Tapple for spelling practice.  That is on my list to try!

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game

This is a card game, but with a twist. The object of the game, like many card games, is to get rid of all your cards. Unlike other card games, this one requires you to build a tower. The tower is going to be wobbly because you are using odd shaped blocks. The object then is to get rid of your cards without toppling the tower. If the tower falls over, you must take three cards and play continues with building a new tower.

This game is very portable. The deck of cards, instructions and all nine blocks fit perfectly into the purple drawstring bag making this a great option to take on the go. I can see my family bringing this along to play while on a picnic. It would be great to bring along camping for those rainy days. 

Dad takes his turn! Wonky  from USAopoly

This is the game that I wasn’t too sure that Supergirl would be able to play. I was afraid her fine motor skills would not be up to the challenge of trying to balance the odd shaped cubes to create a tower.  But she surprised me.   We did have to adapt it by making sure we started the tower close to her but she was able to play the game independently.

Our Thoughts

As a family we are divided as to who prefers which game over the other. Supergirl loves Wonky while Tailorbear surprised herself and said Tapple was her favorite of the two. She said it was fun and she liked how she could take time to think of other words. Turtlegirl is divided and can’t make up her mind. I love the educational aspect of Tapple and found that I really loved Wonky. I do believe that these games will become a regular part of our holiday game marathons at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 USAopoloy ~ Review of Tapple and Wonky

The Details:

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read the USAoploy reviews!

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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.


Just in time for Fall: A collection of Soup Recipes

The weather has turned colder. Fall is here.  That means it’s time to think about soups, stews, and chili!

I do love posting recipes and I have maybe close to a zillion, ok not quite, but many, recipes that I’ve collected photos for and started a few blog posts but just haven’t finished up. In the meantime Fall has snuck up on us and Soup Season is here.  I’ve decided to collect some of my soup recipe blog posts and share them here with you!

I’m going to do this Random Five Four Style!

1. Tomato Florentine ~  Seriously easy. Very adaptable. Honeybear is not much of a soup eater and this one is broth based so not that filling for a hungry man but perfect for a light supper or for a hungry home schooling mama and students for lunch.

Tomato Florentine Soup

2. Our hands down all around family favorite chicken soup nicknamed Pirate Killing Soup, is our variation of Chloe’s Virus Killing Soup.  This is the *best* Chicken and Vegetable soup you will ever eat!  And we do not only eat it when we are sick. It’s great when you are coming down with something and it helps to build the immune system but it’s so good it should be eaten anytime you just want a hot, filling soup!

3. This was a throw together that turned out so well. Chunky Beef Veggie Soupstew. It’s more of a thinner broth than what I think of with a stew but heartier and more filling than just a Beef and Vegetable Soup.

Chunky Beef and Veggie Soupstew

4. I created this recipe when I had some leeks and fennel that I needed to use up. It was a huge hit and now sometimes I actually buy leeks and fennel just to make this recipe:  Yummy Leek, Potato, and Fennel soup.  Maybe I’ll have to sign up for Soup Supper in Lent and do this one again.


Fascinating Physics ~ Online Science {Crew Review}

My Turtlegirl loves science. She completed a physics course early in high school but neither of us have been confident that it provided enough of the math part of physics. Since her high school career is winding down and we’re in the college app and h.s. transcript stage I began to panic wondering what to do about her Physics credit.

Last year, Tailorbear had the opportunity to try the biology course from Fascinating Education. When the crew offered the chance to review Fascinating Physics, Turtlegirl and I decided that we needed to check it out.

Fascinating Education ~ Review by Tess at Circling Through This Life

Fascinating Education

Dr. Marguiles, a neurologist, developed Fascinating Science. He sees learning as a neurological issue and uses his education, training, and experience to help kids understand how our world works.

Fascinating Education uses an audiovisual technique. Students hear science explained in a step by step manner that breaks down complicated science into easy to understand “plain English.” While hearing the lecture, the student sees visual images in the form of slides. Many of these slides are animated.  Images help students to process information better than just reading the text alone or hearing a lecture.

Each lesson is comprised of three parts:

  • The Lesson Player ~ The Lesson Player has two tabs: Menu, which is the audio-visual lecture with slides, and Glossary which contains the terms and definitions for that lesson.
  • Text Copy of the Script ~  This is in PDF form and can be downloaded.  The student can use this to review the material from the test.  The script contains the written lecture and copies of the slides.
  • An Online Test ~ The online test also includes explanations to the questions. There are pdf copies of the tests available under a special teacher only password area for those who prefer to use a physical test.

Fascinating Physics Course

A thorough physics course ~ Fascinating Physics from Fascinating Education

Dr. Margulies divided the Fascinating Physics course into 15 lessons. That doesn’t seem like a very long course but each lesson lecture is brimming with information. For example, Lesson 2 includes 27 slides or 27 sections of information on the topic of Vectors. (Note: Slides are not numbered in the Lesson Player, but they are numbered in the Script. I think it would be helpful to include the slide numbers with the topics in the menu of the Lesson Player)

Fascinating Education courses are designed to cover what you would expect to find covered in a typical high school course. Students contemplating the physics course should be proficient in basic algebra and geometry.

Fascinating Physics Lesson Player

Fascinating Physics Online Test

Using Fascinating Physics

Turtlegirl spends about 45 minutes a day working through physics. She does not cover one lesson in one day.  “That would cause my brain to explode.”  She sets the timer for 30 minutes and uses the Lesson Player to watch as many slides as she can during that time. She takes notes as this helps her to process the information.  She then spends about 15 minutes reviewing her notes and the script for the slides she watched. She had a slow start as she was overwhelmed with the sheer volume contained in the lesson. Once we came up with a structured approach, things have gone much better. I think having more “catch your breath” slides throughout all the lessons would help students like Turtlegirl who need to take time to digest all the information.

Our Thoughts

Both Turtlegirl and I thought that she would move quickly through Fascinating Physics course because she had already worked through physics with another program. We were a little concerned about the math but the math was the main reason we wanted her to take this course.

Read Tess's review of Fascinating Physics at Circling Through This Life

Turtlegirl says that the concepts are very well explained and she is having no trouble understanding the science. Here’s her words:

The teacher explains the concepts really well, and it's easy to understand the concepts. However, I wish there was more explanation of the equations, and more on how to create and solve those equations. It’s not that I don’t understand the math concepts, it’s that I don’t understand how to apply them. I don’t know which equations I am supposed to use when. I wish he would include a list of equations at the end of every lesson.

Both of us think this is a thorough program that explains physics well. 

The Details:

Read the crew reviews of Fascinating Education

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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.


Random Five ~ September 19th Edition

I know. I know.  I did it again.  The meme is called Random Five on Friday and today is Saturday. So let’s just jump to the five random thoughts.

Random Five on Friday at Circling Through This Life

1. I kept meaning to write a blog post because this really is worthy of a it’s own special post but . . . drumroll . . .  A couple of weeks ago,  Supergirl picked up a Bob Book from the pile on the table and began to read it.  She was so thrilled that she could read a book. Yes it was one of the early ones from the first set but it was the first time she had ever willingly picked up a book and could actually, truly read it with no help from mom. 

2. Supergirl has also started helping more and more in the kitchen.  At first it was just measuring the oats and the water to help mom make oatmeal. Then it was realizing she could butter toast.  She is very short and struggles with fine motor skills. It sounds easy to butter toast but it isn’t so easy when you have so much going on or not going on for you. I am sure she could have buttered toast awhile ago but it just isn’t something we’ve allowed her to do because usually we’re making a lot of toast for 6 people and having someone with faster, more coordinated abilities buttering the toast means the toast will still be hot enough for the butter to melt.  And it means that we won’t need 2 pounds of butter for one meal.  Supergirl uses a lot of butter on toast because she isn’t as practiced yet at the skill of grabbing just what you need with the knife and spreading it quickly and evenly.  She’ll get there though.  In the meantime I’m glad she’s giving toast for breakfast a break. She had to have toast with her breakfast every day for several days just so she could butter it.

3. Supergirl is not the only one doing new things. Tailorbear is really blossoming with her kitchen skills.  Unfortunately for her parents, Tailorbear has mastered chocolate chip cookies.  Granka would be proud! The other day she even let Supergirl help.  Supergirl got to crack the eggs and measure out the chips.

4.Tailorbear has become my right hand in the kitchen and has started making most of our dinners.  We work together on planning meals or least brainstorming together. One of her first meals was a “cheater Salisbury steak”.   (Grill or fry hamburgers until done, sauté mushrooms in butter, make a brown gravy from a packet. It’s not from scratch, it’s not really healthy but it is quick, easy, and tasty.  Time was at a premium.)

 Tailorbear Makes Dinner!  Cheater Salisbury Steak ~ Circling Through This Life

5. Tailorbear may have made a cheater Salisbury Steak but last night she made a very real, from scratch, homemade pizza.  Well four of them actually.  She followed her father’s instructions and recipe for the pizza crust and she invented a pizza sauce using organic home canned tomatoes and organic store bought (Costco) tomato paste. She planned the whole thing and did the whole thing.


Be a Super Teacher with Super Teacher Worksheets {Crew Review}

We prefer a literature approach to home school and use real or living books for history and English but a couple of my girls really like worksheets. I’d been contemplating what to do for my 16 year old; our history program has study questions but the format is very difficult to use. How do I get her to answer questions so that I have something to grade? Supergirl often needs extra practice with little skills. She loves worksheets and our math programs do not provide enough for her. I needed something easy to use that would work for Tailorbear and at the same time fill gaps and offer practice for Supergirl. The crew provided a solution! With the Individual Membership from Super Teacher Worksheets.

Super Teacher Worksheets ~ Review by Tess at Circling Through This LIfe

Tim Weibel, who taught 3rd and 4th grades for over 10 years, founded Super Teacher Worksheets in 2007. This website offers activities, games, and printable worksheets for teachers and homeschoolers.  There are over 10,000 PDFs covering Math, Reading & Writing, Phonics, Grammar, Social Studies, Science, and Spelling.

In addition to traditional worksheets, you’ll find spelling lists, dice games, math mystery pictures, flash cards, memory card games, and more. The content is geared primarily for students in Kindergarten to 5th or 6th grade though I’ve been making use of the Quiz Generator to use with Tailorbear. I’ve been using the Matching, Multiple Choice, and Fill-in-Blank generators to take those study questions and vocabulary from her history program to create little tests. I take the very difficult to use study guide and take the information and input it into the generator and bam, I have a quiz she can take.

You can use Super Teacher Worksheets for free but there are limits. The benefits of having the Individual Membership include unlimited access to all of the files. Currently there are over 10,000 files! Without a membership, a teacher or parent can only access a fraction of the available materials. I noticed that only two of the 13 PDFs for Integers are FREE.  To access all of them I needed to log in to my Individual Membership.

One of the biggest advantages of the Membership is being able to save the worksheets in a File Cabinet. I can work ahead creating multiple worksheets and save each of them in the file cabinet. I can then print them out as needed or even use them again and I don’t have to worry about printing them and losing the printed pages or having to save them to my computer. In addition to saving the worksheets I create using the Generator tools, I can click the file button and save all my favorites so that I can find them quickly and easily. This saves me time when I am planning my lessons.  I can take an afternoon, browse through the topics I need and save them to the file cabinet to print when I need them.

Super Teacher Worksheets ~ a solution to my dilema! Review by Tess at Circling Through This Life

Supergirl loves worksheets. She has enjoyed using worksheets to supplement her regular math program. I was thrilled to find worksheets that covered place value and ordinal numbers in addition to addition and subtraction. I also used the Worksheet Generator to create a set of Matching Worksheets to practice matching upper and lower case letters. Each time I visit the site I find more and more things I can use to help.

Super Teacher Worksheets' Individual Membership has provided the solution I need to find supplemental worksheets for re-teaching and extra practicing of a variety of concepts for Supergirl. With the different Quiz Generator tools, I have a solution to the not well laid out study guide problem I had with Tailorbear’s history program. Do check out the website.  Give it a try.  There is much that is free so that you can get an idea of how it works. You can try it out before purchasing the Individual Membership.

The Details:

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

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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.


Random Five on Friday ~ September 11th

This is not the first Friday of September but it is the first Random Five post for this month! 

Random Five on Friday Sept 11th  We Remember ~ Circling Through This Life

1. I don’t remember the day of the week. I won’t forget where I was when heard the news nor will I ever forgot how I heard the news. The phone rang.  I was still in bed as it was just around 6:30 am here on the West Coast. Honeybear was active duty military at the time and he was away doing field training exercises. It was my dad on the phone wanting to know if “it” would affect John.  Would they deploy him?  Would he get to come home first? I didn’t know what “it” was.  Then my dad told me. The towers were gone. Life was forever changed. But, life goes on. Different.  Never the same but it goes on and 14 years later I still remember. My life wasn’t affected the way so very many lives were but I remember. I remember the terror.  I remember the anguish. I remember those whose lives were lost.

2.  BooBear has been scarce around the house for most of the month of August and the early days of September. I’m so amazed at the beautiful young woman she has become. She volunteered as a New Student Orientation Guide and she has a new job working as a community advocate. She’ll continue to be busy but this CA position just seems to suit her so well.

3. One advantage to BooBear being scarce is how much more I appreciated having dinner together this week as a family. ALL six of us eating dinner *at the same time* in the same room!  It hadn’t happened since sometime in July, I think.  Maybe early August.

4. I adjusted my Goodreads Reading Challenge from 40 books to 35 as I wanted to tackle some longer books. I’ve been reading quite a bit over the summer but over the last 10 days I have not read as much.  Oh I’ve started reading but I don’t think I’ve finished anything for awhile. Wait. I did finish Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson.  Currently I am reading these fiction novels:

  •  War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells ~ reading this so that Tailorbear and I can talk about it with our When Worlds Collide Literature course.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. ~I am reading it very very slowly. Mostly that is the book I am reading on my Kindle App on my phone when I am waiting for whatever and haven’t brought my Kindle with me.
  • The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello ~ I picked this up as one of my Kindle First books.
  • Immortal Plague (The Judas Chronicles) by Aiden James ~ This is my reading selection for September from the Kindle Owner’s Library.  This one intrigue me but I haven’t read enough yet to know if I like it or if I think it offends my sensibilities. It’s based on the idea that Judas didn’t die but was cursed to walk the earth.  He is searching for the 30 silver coins that he received for his betrayal of Christ.
  • The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rawling ~ Ok this is a *re-read*.  I’ve only read the series once but I’ve seen the movies several times. I loved the book series and have been wanting to re-read it for awhile. This one I am reading as a paperback.

5.  We’re firmly into our school year though we’re still ironing out scheduling details. We’ve had a few off days and we still have to work out the best way to get daily chores done but over all I am happy.  I’m continuing to use My Student Logbook for Turtlegirl and Homeschool Planet for the other two. 


What a Fun and Busy Weekend!

We’ve had a fun but busy weekend to celebrate a four day Labor Day Holiday break.  Honeybear took Friday off so that we had Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Friday was game day and we got to try out some new games we recently received from USAopoly: Tapple, and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game. You’ll have to wait until the end of the month for my full review but I’m telling you we laughed and we laughed and we had fun.


Over the weekend we also played some games we’ve had for awhile.  We always give the girls at least one game every Christmas.  Supergirl loves playing Yahtzee! but she especially loves the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who edition which btw, I discovered is also from USAopoly! Supergirl loves any dice game though but Yahtzee! and Farkle are her favorites.  She and I played Yahtzee! just the two of us and she won!

While Supergirl and I tried to collect full houses made of 3 Weeping Angels and 2 Daleks, Daddy and Tailorbear tackled Sauron.  We have this Lord of the Rings board game which encourages co-operative play.  It encourages co-operative play so players work together to get to Mordor. This means that everybody wins or everybody loses.

On Sunday night we attended the Labor Day BBQ and Camp Fire Sing Along at church. Due to questionable weather the event was moved indoors. We still had a fire; it was just in the fireplace in the parish house instead of a in fire pit in the yard.  Of course we had s’mores.  What’s a camp fire sing along with roasted marshmallows squished between graham crackers with chocolate?  This is an annual event that Supergirl looks forward to every year.  She was not disappointed.

Today, Monday, Tailorbear and I canned tomatoes with friends. This is also an annual even that I very much look forward to.  Many hands make light work.  I get to spend time chatting with friends and I bring home canned tomatoes. 

How was your Labor Day weekend?  Did you enjoy a long holiday weekend?  Did you do anything special?


Learning while Playing ~ Mayan Mysteries Online Game {Review}

A few years ago we had the opportunity to review Mayan Mysteries, an online from Dig-It! Games and the girls had a blast. There was just one problem.  The girls completed the game but at that time there was no resolution. The mystery was not solved. When I told them that Mayan Mysteries had been updated and that it is now complete, they were eager to play it again.

Myan Mysteries and online game that is both fun and educational! Read the review at Circlng Through This Life!

Because it had been a long time since she played it, Turtlegirl decided to start over from the beginning to “refresh [her] memory.”  She had the option of picking up with the updated point or starting over. Because Turtlegirl played the game I’m going to hand this over to her so she can describe the game and tell you what she thinks!


I really enjoyed playing the game. I loved the "mini-games" that helped you learn about household Mayan objects or the Mayan math system. I really wish they had included more of the story during the sites you work with, instead of having it all in end-of-level and beginning-of-level comics. The story is fun, but it would be more engaging if it were sprinkled in throughout the level.

Working On A Site In The Present ~ Mayan Mysteries game review at Circling Through This Life

While I'm terrible at collecting artifacts (whenever I click on a person with that "mini-game" they give a spiel about the importance of carefully collecting artifacts, and then ask "will you help me excavate this site?", and I always wonder why they're asking me, and why my reputation as 'breaker of artifacts' hasn't reached them :D ) I love that mini-game the most. I think it's my love of archaeology, combined with the fact that in this case, you don't have to read all of the text about the artifacts if you don't want to. If there is something that I truly dislike about the game, it's all of the reading I have to do to move forward in the game. If you click on a person, and it's not a "mini-game", it's a "read this carefully, click on the challenge, and then answer 4 questions about what you just read". While I love reading and learning, this is just a little too much for me. At one point, when TailorBear and I were playing together, she actually walked off because she got bored with all of the reading. I think, if this information were sprinkled into conversations between characters (again, sprinkle in more of the story!), it would be more likely to stick in the mind. And it would be more entertaining.

I did like that we had two ways of doing the sites, the one in the present, and one where we traveled back in time. (On a humorous note, I really wonder why -in the past part- no one questions two kids in modern clothes walking around in an ancient Maya city and offering to help people. I mean, really stone-inscriber-guy? You need MY help? Somebody who just basically fell out of the sky??? :D )

Working a Site in the Past (this is the ancient Palenque ~ Mayan Mysteries game reivew at Cicling Through This Life

Overall, this was a fun game! I just wish they didn't drag out the story so much.

(P.S: I actually had tons of fun helping inscribe dates on stones with the stone-inscriber-guy. That’s another of my favorite “mini-games”.)


Dig-It! Games also produces Roman Town. This game is now only available as an app but during my first on the crew it was a downloadable game. I do not have a device to play the game on the app but many of my crew members had the chance to play and review Roman Town.  If you are looking for a fun, educational game that explores ancient Rome as an archeological site, do check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read the reviews.

The Details:

Dig-It! Games Review

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