Monday, October 31, 2011

Goal Planning Monday - October 31

Goal Planning Monday

It's time again to set some goals for this coming week with Katrina of Mama Manuscripts!

It's been awhile since I linked up!  October's been a long month filled with business and illness!  

This weeks' goals:

1.  Get signed up with my personal fitness coach!

2.  Take care of misc. paperwork. 


4.  Finish reviews for The Person I Marry

5.  Cut out all simple carbs!

6.  Visit the other GPM participants.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally Review!

Shopping & Cooking Frugally
Shopping & Cooking Frugally

A Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping and Cooking Frugally is a collection of tips and tricks gathered over the years by author Kimberly Eddy.

I especially wanted to review this book because it was recently revised to include tips on budgeting meals for families with teens.

"Though the amounts spent on groceries has changed - the principles on how to save money stay the same."

Also included in this 2nd edition are printables such as:  a menu planner, printable checklist for creating your own menu plan and master shopping list,  and a handy printable chart for using seasonings and spices while cooking.

Kimberly's suggestions turned the light bulb on for me in several areas that greatly helped the overall picture of our household.

"I learned from an older lady that I am in a unique position two make my husband feel like the poorest man on the planet even if he earns a good wage, simply by desiring more and more.  On the other hand, I can also make my husband feel like a rich man when I check my attitude.  I can be blessed and thankful for the plenty he does provide.....Let me give you an example.  When I purchase frugal groceries I can either slop a pile of flavorless rice and beans onto a plate, or I can prepare an elegant meal out of properly seasoned and prepared staple foods such as rice and beans, and present it at the table in such a way that those sitting at the table can't wait to eat."

Walking you through making a basic menu plan alongside your calendar, Kimberly explains this helps you to not schedule "heavy prep-time" meals on days when you have out of the home activities.  Which means you'll need an easy meal for those days and can plan accordingly.

This brings me to the section on convenience foods where instead of driving the reader completely away from them comments that there are times to utilizes these foods.

"Knowing how to do things "the old fashioned way" gives us huge freedom to decide how and where to save a few pennies to a few dollars when preparing a meal". 
"Being free from the tyranny of processed foods is about more than forgoing boxed mixes, canned soups and the like.  It's about being able to chose where to pinch a penny and where to spend a little bit more to buy some extra time on something more important."

The author also shares from her heart and is very frank about her health and finances.

To keep from overspending, she encourages you to buy your groceries with cash AND then to save any leftover amount in a separate bank account for debt reduction, Christmas fund, etc.

She also encourages the reader to "just remember to keep portions to the size of your fist and make the best food choices you are able to afford."

So - being a frugal minded Mom myself whose family lives on one income, I frequently get defeated by the lack of flavor of my frugal bean dishes.  Bland and boring, who can blame my family for asking for meat?!

I had one of those 'lighbulb' moments reading how to correctly season foods with various herbs, spices and non-MSG based seasonings.  (I didn't know non-MSG based chicken seasonings even existed!)

She also explains how to make a "mirepox" to improve flavor.  I gave this one a whirl and it made a tremendous difference!  While the family doesn't beg for these bean dishes, at least now they are eaten without complaining!

Other topics include:
Buying in Bulk
Buying Meat (Store vs. Market)
Make Your Own Convenience Foods
Food Allergies, Health and Weight Management on a Tight Budget
Couponing Simplified (start with ONE thing)

Plus 40 pages of recipes utilizing the 10 most frugal foods!

One last tip from the book....what to do with those expired coupons?  Did you know they can be donated to the troops?  See

Please visit for this and more great homemaking resources AND free printable coupons.

Enter coupon code KEVA2011 for 15% off the price of Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally at !!!

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Being An American Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute’s Being an American Essay Contest,

Check out the Bill of Rights Institute’s Being an American Essay Contestwhich asks students how the Constitution protects a culture of liberty in a way that challenges them to dig into the Constitution and Founding principles. 

Students will respond to the essay prompt: How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty in 1,000 words or less.  
This Contest is open to students in grades 9-12. HOMESCHOOLERS INCLUDED! 

The Contest has an accompanying lesson plan that can be used in two 45-minute class periods or one 90-minute period and meets Common Core Standards.

Five top prizes of $1,000 will be awarded as well as over $5,000 in other cash prizes. 

The essay submission deadline is December 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM (PST). 

Check out the Contest website for more information –

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jonathan Park Goes to the Amazon GIVEAWAY!

Vision Forum

Jonathan Park Goes to the Amazon
Jonathan Park Goes to the Amazon

 If you missed my review of this incredible CD-set,  check it out here.

Explore a lost world and uncover seven mysteries to the glory of God in Jonathan Park Goes to the Amazon! Follow along as Jonathan and his father join Vision Forum—a Christian family ministry—and a team of explorers on an exciting adventure to the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes Mountains. Together they investigate some of the most amazing examples of God’s creation, discovering the true meaning of Christian stewardship from jungle paths to mountain peaks. When Jonathan’s laptop gets mixed up with a stranger’s at the Lima Airport, the adventure begins as two thrill-seekers become convinced the team is trying to find the Lost City of Gold. Join the excitement as Jonathan, Kendall, and the Vision Forum team explore the mysteries of Amazonia, while Ajay and Quentin stalk them in their pursuit of ancient treasure

To enter to win this cd-set,  please leave me a separate comment for EACH of the following that you do...

For AN EASY ENTRY - leave me a comment. (= 1 entry)

For MORE entries:
*Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs (=1 entry)
*Like Homeschool Circus on Facebook (=1 entry)
*Follow me on Twitter (=1 entry)
* Like Vision Forum on Facebook   (=2 entries),
* Follow Vision Forum on Twitter (=2 entries)
*Visit Doug Phillips' Blog and read an article of your choice (=2 entries)
*Post about this contest on your Blog, Facebook or Twitter linking back to this post (=3 entries)


Contest ends on November 4th and is open to US and CANADIAN CITIZENS ONLY.  Winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator.

This giveaway is also linked up at Hip Homeschool Mom's Giveaway Day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TOS Crew Excellence in Literature Review!

Excellence in Literature - English 1:  Introduction to Literature
Excellence in Literature - English 1:
Introduction to Literature

Excellence in Literature - Reading and Writing Through the Classics
English I: Introduction to Literature
Grades 8-12
$29 plus shipping for the 132 paged print book
$27 for the ebook

Walking through the Vendors' Hall at our statewide Homeschool Convention, I have oggled Excellence in Literature products.  I have wanted to have the opportunity to sit down and really look at this program.  I got my wish!

Excellence in Literature (EIL) is a college-preparatory course of study.  Its' goal is to:

*Introduce students to great literature from the western literary tradition.
* Teach students to read with discernment.
* Train independent, self-motivated learners.
*Provide tools that students can use to strengthen their writing skills.
*Introduce students to sources for high-quality online and offline research.
*Prepare students for college classes by expecting carefully-researched, well-thought-out material to be presented in standard format, with preliminary proofreading completed.

EIL's learning philosophy from Author Janice Campbell:

The foundation of the Excellence in Literature philosophy is the verb "learn."  I believe the acquisition of knowledge and skills is an active endeavor.  The process of learning is focused within one person - the learner.  Just as an infant makes the transition from being fed to feeding himself, a student who wants to be successful will begin to take an active role in absorbing and understanding information that will help him interpret his world.  Although many students wait until college to make this transition, high school is actually an ideal time to learn how to learn.

Introduction to Literature is:

a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Our Experience:

I liked that clear expectations were giving in the schedule for each of the 9 units.  The author does stress the flexibility of this program and gives some suggestions on whether to follow a year-round schedule or a more traditional one.   An honors track is also included.

Unit One's Focus is on short stories and begins with defining the focus texts and asks you to read "A White Heron" (Focus Text Part 1) and also the author's biography (Context Reading).
Focus Texts Part 2:  "The Diamond Necklace", "Ransom of Red Chief", "Purloined Letter", "A Worn Path", "Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

Unit Focus - Learn to write an approach paper and discover or review the five elements of fiction: Plot, Theme, Characterization, Setting & Style, in five great short stories.
Write a basic compare/contract essay.

Assignment Schedule: (which we did follow)
Week 1 - Preliminary Reading - certain sections of the guide.

Read "A White Heron" and write an Approach paper (the "how to" is included in the guide).

Weeks 2-3
Read 1 assignment per day

Literary Summary for each story (the "how to" is included in the guide)

Week 4
Choose two of the stories and write a 300 world essay comparing and contrasting ways in which the selected works are similar/different in 1 or 2 of the following areas:  Plot, Theme, Characterization, setting an style.

Use the appropriate section in Writer's Inc. handbook (their recommended writer's resource) or other writer's handbook for assistance (we used Check the Deck).

Edit and evaluate with rubric included in the guide.

From Unit 2 on, the focus is on books.  Unit 2 is based on Around the World in 80 days and is basically the same, but adds elements of Poetry, Audio, Video and Visual Arts, Music and Online Resources as well.

I knew this program would be a challenge for my 8th grader - and I was right!  I was concerned that the "analyzing" and "paper writing" would take the enjoyment out of reading these classics, but I believed he could rise to a whole new level and was ready for the challenge.

When I saw the writing involved, I held my breath.  My son is not a strong creative writer and I did envision him being closed off to these methods.  We both discovered that since this was analytical writing, it wasn't going to be an impossible feat!  (Though he did need guidance here and there to complete the writing assignments).

After completing Unit 1, I asked my son what he honestly thought of the program.  He told me that while he enjoyed being challenged it is not something he wanted to do month after month, but spread out over the year or at least at a slower pace.

Will we continue to use this program?  I am pleased with the selections and the results I've seen in my son's growth and ability.  However, since he already belongs to a wonderful Classics Book Club that analyzes the Five Elements of Fiction, engages the kids in spirited discussions and requires a project for 7 months out of the year, I think we will keep this curriculum for the months book club does not meet or as a "Summer Intensive".

The other programs in this series are:

Literature and Composition
American Literature
British Literature
World Literature

Excellence in Literature - English 1:  Introduction to Literature

A very helpful downloadable sheet listing all 5 programs and books used can be found here.

Everyday Education also offers grammar and spelling courses.  You can check them out at:

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer: I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TOS Crew George Washington Carver DVD Review

George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver: His Life and His Works DVD
4th grade +
29 minutes
Regular price $24.95
Sale price $19.95
Enter TOSC1 at checkout to purchase this item for $16.95

More than just a biography, this is a true story of inspiration on how a poor, uneducated person can become one of the most productive and inspirational forces in society.  For anyone looking for an inspirational story, for historians, teachers and students, and for young and old alike this DVD featuring stunning photography and a superb original music score is certain to be watched again and again.

We enjoyed this well done DVD and marveled along with Carver at the wonders of Creation.  What an inspiration to be born into slavery and blossom into leading scientific study in reviving the southern soil that was raveged by cotton with the alternative crop of peanuts.  AND then to be lead by God to discover so many uses for peanuts!

My 8th and 5th graders took note of the blending of the Bible and science and how Carver made the two work together.  Sadly though, Carver did not believe in a literal 6 day Creation.

Included on Marshall Publishing's website is a free study guide with discussion questions to accompany this DVD.

Check out more Marshall Publishing DVD's from animals to vehicles to historical figures at

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer: I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

TOS Crew Lots and Lots of Fire Trucks & Firefighters Book/DVD Review

Fire Trucks and Firefighters!
Fire Trucks and Firefighters!

LOTS and LOTS of Fire Trucks and Firefighters Book and Safety Songs DVD

All ages (best for toddlers up to early elementary)
30 minute DVD plus 128 page book

If you love fire trucks, get ready for the most exciting collection of non-stop fire truck songs, safety tips and fire fighting action you will ever see!

This DVD makes learning about Fire Safety fun and appeals to all ages. It's perfect for libraries and community outreach safety programs, classroom use, or homeschooling. Everyone should view this video to learn about fire safety in the home.

This unique DVD is divided into two sections: FIRST, the menu allows instructors to easily use a CLASSROOM SECTION suitable for use by Fire Safety Personnel or Teachers in School and Fire Department Open House situations as well as Community Presentations where a short, 12 minute information packed program is needed and: SECOND, users can play all or select any of the exciting individual segments for a non-stop attention grabbing half-hour of learning fun!

Various segments include:

Our experience:

The book is 128 pages of full color, glossy photos.  Meet Firefighter Joe as he takes you through getting ready for an emergency call, showing you the equipment and vehicles used in firefighting.  Also included are fire facts, science basics, prevention & safety tips, historic fires, timeline, list of museums and the lyrics to the songs on the DVD.

My rambunctious 2 year old enjoyed the DVD which is 30 action packed minutes filled with safety tips, fire and flashing lights.  I foresee that this DVD and accompanying book will be a favorite of his for years to come!

I could see using this book and DVD in a co-op setting for toddlers up to early elementary aged children.

Check out more Marshall Publishing DVD's from animals to vehicles to historical figures at

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer:  I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Book of History Book Review

Big book of History 15 ft of historical information folded up into one book that can easily be kept on a bookshelf.
Big Book of History

I love time-lines!  Unfortunately due to limited space, we cannot put one up on our wall.  That's why this 15 paged, fold-out time-line contained in The Big Book of History is so wonderful!!!

15 ft of historical information folded up into one book that can easily be kept on a bookshelf.
15 ft of historical information folded up into one book that can easily be kept on a bookshelf.  (Fully used and operational homeschool atmosphere not included!)

It's eye-catching, informative and 100% portable.  It can be enjoyed anywhere!

Covering Creation to the present,  The Big Book of History is broken down into four categories:
*  Biblical/Christianity
* World Events
* Inventions/Technology
* Civilizations/Empires

We really enjoyed:

Details on the Great Flood
7 wonders of the World
First Olympics
Apostles and their fates
Persecution of Christians by Roman Emperors
Great Awakening
Space Exploration

My ONLY problem with this timeline is the 2010 statement that had President Obama declaring "The United States was not a Christian Nation."  I thought that was pretty shocking and regardless of my personal opinion of the President, I checked it out for myself.  The President was taken out of context and the statement  SHOULD read:   "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish Nation or a Muslim Nation."  

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Pirate Daughter's Promise Book Review!

Pirate Daughter's Promise written by a Homeschool Graduate!
Pirate Daughter's Promise written by a Homeschool Graduate!

In this season of life, it isn't often that I get to sit and read a book for my own enjoyment.

When I was approached to review The Pirate Daughter's Promise by Molly Evangeline my first response was to say "No thank you."  BUT upon learning that Molly is a homeschool graduate, my curiosity got the best of me.

Set in the early 1700's in the Caribbean, The Pirate Daughter's Promise is not only a story of adventure, but of faith, chivalry, love and A LOT of grace!

The author spins a tale around Skye  Mc Henry, an orphaned daughter of a reformed pirate.  During the 11 years she's without close family she comes to depend on William, a fellow orphan and a blacksmith/carpenter known as Matthew.

Through a series of events, she and her closest friends find themselves on a high-seas adventure woven around a common thread - treasure Skye's father had left for her before his death and the grace of God which she depends upon for survival.

There are many twists, turns and surprises in this story.  A few swashbuckling sword fights, wholesome romance/friendship that leads to courting but more importantly many times where the characters pray for the Lord to intercede and times where their faith is shared with those in need.

All in all I was pleased with the plot of this book.  It moved at a good pace and was filled with time period appropriate adventure and mystique.  It was encouraging to read the characters walking out their faith in a real, down to earth fashion.  I can  recommend this book for high school+ readers.

Also in this series are:   Every Tear, A Captain's Heart, and Finding Faith.  THIS particular series I will continue to read.

You can read more about Molly at her Blog.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (Blitzkrieg! Winston Churchill & The Battle of Britain)

USS Arizona
USS Arizona

It's been a rough 2 weeks here at The Circus!  We've been battling colds that hit 2 out of 4 kids and then hit the other 2 the following week.

Depending on the week and the child, we did get some school completed.

These past two weeks we've been studying Britain and Churchill during World War II.

Some of this weeks' readings:

Select readings about WWII

Select readings about WWII
Select readings about WWII

It was a great week to do some video schooling as well.  We watched Battle of Britain, Bonhoeffer, The Hiding Place and Citizen Kane.

When they were feeling up to it, the boys started work on the Battleship USS Arizona and on wooden 'Bomber' kits from Consumer Crafts.  

USS Arizona model
USS Arizona!

USS Arizona model
Close up of the Arizona.  It's put together, but needs paint!

Assembling the wooden bombers.
Assembling the wooden bombers.  We find that using a glue gun works better than nails!

Assembling the wooden bombers.
Assembled and camouflage outlines drawn.  Next, we need to paint!

American Girl Molly
American Girl Molly
As for my daughter, I did a lot of reading aloud to her from the Molly American Girl book.  We did spend some time on the matching aprons for her and her doll.  For something that is not supposed to take long, this 'easy' project is taking forever.   It took hours to do these straps for the aprons.  She loves to sew and that makes this project worth it. 

Green Tree Frog
Green Tree Frog
 And, this is Mr. Green.  He's a Green Tree Frog that was rescued from the near clutches of the neighbors' dog.  My 10 year old loves animals and has enjoyed hosting him.  Mr. Green is a rather social frog and loves to jump from item to item and person to person.
Green Tree Frog

Not to worry - all surfaces, hands and necks were well cleaned after Mr. Green's visiting!

Join us next week for The Holocaust and updates to our Modern History and American Girl lapbooks!

TOS Crew Say Anything Family Game Review!

Say Anything Family Edition

Say Anything Family
3-10 Players
Ages 8+

Say Anything Family Edition
Say Anything Family Edition

What would your friends say?

Say Anything is a light-hearted game about what you and your friends think.  It will get people talking, laughing and having fun in minutes.  Enjoy it with three to eight family members or as an hilarious party game with adults.  So dig deep into your heart or just come up with something witty - this is your chance 
to Say Anything!

I had the opportunity to review this game first with my 13, 10 and 8 year old.  It was a BLAST!

For starters, it was VERY easy to learn.  Grab a dry erase marker, a dry erase board in the color of your choice and 2 matching colored game tokens (all of which are included).  One person is 'The Judge' and reads a question from the pile of question cards (such as:  What would make work more fun?,  What would your pet say if it could talk?  What is your favorite TV character?) and the other players write their answers down on their board.  'The Judge' picks his/her favorite answer and puts it on the dial gizmo so the other players cannot see.  Then other players try to guess which answer 'The Judge' picked and place their tokens on either one or two answer boards.  Points are scored by putting your token on the winning answer or by having the answer that 'The Judge' chooses.  A nifty dry erase scoreboard is also included.

Say Anything Family Edition

My kids enjoyed it so much and were so enthused about playing that they called their Father several times during the day to see when he was coming home because they HAD to play with Dad!!!!  And, as predicted, he LOVED it too!  We played several games that night and were winded with laughter!!

I foresee this game being a favorite for family game night for a long time to come and one that we would choose to give as a gift to another family!

You can check out other fun games at their website:

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer:  I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Homeschool Misfit Awards.....

Homeschool Circus has been nominated for "The Harried Homeschool Award"

It's that time of the year again for  The Homeschool Misfit Awards.  Click on over to view this year nominees and visit their blogs and vote for your favorites.

Pssst.....Homeschool Circus has been nominated for "The Harried Homeschool Award" too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TOS Crew Wits & Wagers Family Edition Review!

Wits and Wagers Family Edition

Wits and Wagers
Ages 8+
3-10 players

Wits and Wagers Family Edition
Wits and Wagers Family Edition

A Family Edition of the Most Award-Winning Party Game in History!

Wits & Wagers Family simplifies the rules and scoring system of the popular Wits & Wagers. Now families and kids can get into the Wits & Wagers action! First, every player writes down a guess to a fun question. Then players try to score points by choosing which guess is closest to the right answer without going over. That is it!

Wits and Wagers Family Edition

The game features 300 new family-friendly questions. And even better than that, Wits & Wagers Family includes Meeples-- fun, cute, human shaped wooden pieces that the players use to select which answers they think are correct. Meeples have been a hallmark in European style strategy games for years, but this is the first time they have made an appearance in a party game.

On the tail of a roaring good time with Say Anything, my 13, 10 and 8 year olds and I  joyously opened Wits & Wagers to see what this game was all about.  This is more of a trivia type of game where the answer is always a number.  But, unlike typical trivia games, you aren't penalized for not having the exact answer.  In fact, you don't have to know the exact answer, just be close to it without going over.

That's what made this a fun game for everyone.  Even my 8 year old was capable to making a mostly educated guess at questions like:  "How many times does a honey bee flap its' wings in a second?", "How many teaspoons in a tablespoon?"  

Wits and Wagers is VERY easy to learn.  Grab a dry erase marker, a dry erase board and Meeples in the color of your choice (all of which are included).  One person reads a question from the pile of question cards and the other players write their answers down on their board.  The answers are lined up and the  players put their Meeples on the answer(s) they think are correct.  Points are scored by having your Meeple on the winning answer.  And that is either the actual number or the number closest to the actual answer without going over.  A dry erase scoreboard is also included.

We did enjoy this game as a family, but, I think it had more appeal to my analytical child than Say Anything.  Also - Wits & Wagers seems to be a faster moving game as the answers are more concrete than subjective.

We will happily continue using this game in our Family Game Nights and would consider giving it as a gift to another family as well.

You can check out other games at their website:

Disclaimer:  I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TOS Crew Educating the WholeHearted Child Review

Educating the Whole Hearted Child, an incredible, home-transforming,   inspirational and encouraging homeschool book!
Educating the Whole Hearted Child, an incredible, home-transforming,
 inspirational and encouraging homeschool book!   

Homeschool encouragement books are a lot like hamburgers.  Some are just a huge bun with very little meat.  Some look appetizing, but leave a bad taste in your mouth.  And some are just plain sloppy.

Educating the WholeHearted Child is an example of a colossal, juicy, mouth-watering, double-decker all condiments included, super-sized burger served up neatly on a whole-grain bun!

YES,  it's THAT good!

Hands down this is the most incredible, home-transforming, inspirational and encouraging book AND TOOL I have ever read.

This is THE book I would recommend to all homeschool families and one I desperately wished I would have had 9 years ago when we started our journey.

In its' third and improved edition, Educating the WholeHearted Child takes you through the life giving sections of Home, Learning, Methods and Living which focus the reader on the one true reason to homeschool:

"to be wholeheartedly devoted to our God and to have willing minds that seek and serve Him.  That is what we mean by the "WholeHearted Child".  It is not difficult today to set our parenting goals on making our children successful by the world's stands.  But if their hearts and minds are not turned wholeheartedly towards God, we will miss the mark by God's standards.  While the world may judge our children against the temporal standards of intelligence, appearance, money, power and fame, God will judge them by their hearts."

Authors Clay and Sally Clarkson pour out their hearts with Godly wisdom, Scripture references and quotes from past educators to encourage you to understand that you ARE especially equipped by God to be your child's teacher simply by default.  God choose you to be their parents and only you can

"raise spiritually mature children who have both the will and the skill to learn and the desire and ability to keep learning.  That is the goal of WholeHearted learning.  Your goal in home education should be to raise well-rounded, spiritually grounded, truth-founded christian children whose goal in life is to make a difference for the kingdom of God, whatever life path they choose.  You are actually raising future Christian adults."

Anyone can teach your child how to read or how to multiply.  But only YOU can nurture them and show them the way to Jesus in a relational way while building a love and curiosity for learning.

"God has given you all you need to train and educate your children at home - it's in real book, real life and real relationships."

I mentioned earlier that we've been at this for 9 years.  Why would such a book help us now?

Well, as with many parents, our original reason for homeschooling was to provide a positive, Christian learning atmosphere where our oldest could learn at an accelerated pace.  Over many years, homeschooling morphed into a learning lifestyle where the lines between education and living are blurred.  Through much learning on OUR part, we see that the ultimate goal is to produce children that love and want to serve the Lord wholeheartedly with their gifts and talents.  Our desire is to help them expand those gifts and talents into a way to support their future families while serving the Lord.

"Men designed schools, God designed the home....A home-centered, wholeHearted approach to learning is a biblical lifestyle, not an institutional experiment in education."

Reading this book years ago would have changed our heart motives and relieved so much pressure to compete with the world and its standards.

Chapter 7 entitled,  "The WholeHearted Learning Home:  Creating a Home You Can Learn Within"  set me free in another area that I've struggled with.  That is the concept of not having a "proper" school room.  An area where all learning takes place filled with all our books, materials and a desk for each child.

The authors note: 
"WholeHearted Learning, in contrast, asks you to add faith and freedom to your vision - to see your entire home as a dynamic living and learning environment, designed by God to work for you to help you achieve your home education goals.
Learning is something that goes on all the time and in many places.  When you see your entire home as a means for learning, home education takes on a whole new meaning.  It is not education done at home;  it is education done with the home.
Your entire home should reflect your homeschooling values from the way your arrange your furniture to the books you leave out on the tables to the pictures and verses you hang on the wall to the way you use your kitchen.  There should be no discernible dividing lines between home and education.  The natural atmosphere of your home should be alive with learning and life."

WOW!  So, we had been doing it right all along!  Due to limited space, we were unable to have everything in one area, so we have multiple, comfy learning areas set up throughout the house.    Amazingly this lack of space has caused my children to grow up in an environment where they believe learning can happen anywhere! And does!!

In addition, instead of a precise curriculum to follow, Educating the WholeHearted Child is broken down into a model of learning:  discipleship, disciplined, discussion, discovery and discretionary studies.  Each of these sections are broken down further and discussed in detail.

This section really encouraged me in the weak areas of our homeschool and how to strengthen them in order to unify learning to effectively move into the "Discretionary Studies Stage" where each child can begin to use his/her own unique gifts and skills.

I also enjoyed the section on "Preparing your child for a calling and career".  As our household enters into the high school years, this following statement truly puts the future into proper perspective.

"We have become convinced-not just in theory but by actual practice with four teens - that our primary purpose with our children in the high school years is not just to prepare them for college but rather to prepare them for a calling......Calling is about stewardship - investing God's gifts for God's glory.  Our commitment is to prepare our children to make a life that will please God and then prepare them to make a living with God's help."

Also included (but not limited to) in this book is information on:

*Living Books vs. Text Books
*The Homeschooling Father
*Keeping the Homeschooling/Home Together
*Evaluating and Considering Curriculum and Supplies
*The Value of Support Groups
*Personality evaluation and learning styles

Educating the Whole Hearted Child retails for $22 and is well worth the price!

Check out the Table of Contents  or  a sample chapter for yourself.  Apologia offers many resources such as:  Science, Geography and HistoryLanguage ArtsBible Studies, and  Homeschool Parent Helps.  

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homeschool Family Question of the Week~Handling Your Biggest Organizational Challenges

Homeschool Family Question of the Week

Christian Homeschoolers Taking a Stand has just posted their weekly "Homeschool Family Question of the Week" link up.

This week’s question is:

"What is your biggest Homeschool organization challenge?"

Well.....for the past 5 years our biggest organization challenge has been making our curriculum and supplies fit into a small space AND stay tidy.

This year has been exceptionally difficult because of the age spread of my children.  Next year, we will be homeschooling Pre-School to High School.  While spiritually and mentally we are up to the challenge, the spread of materials needed to meet all those needs is huge!

So, in anticipation of my oldest needing a quiet space to study and my youngest needing to have 'learning centers' and lots of space to explore, I finally bit the bullet and started packing away some of our library in order to accommodate our space needs.  It is quite difficult not to have easy access to different time periods in history -- other than the time period we are currently studying.

Another thing we've done is to 'upgrade' some of our furniture and reuse the older pieces in different ways.

For example, for my birthday I got a new microwave rack.  (Yes, I know it's not romantic, but I'm a practical person.  And, if it helps make my life a little easier I am SOOOO happy!).  

New microwave cabinet to help with organizing
New microwave cabinet to help with organizing

I then took the old microwave cart and made it into a desperately needed sewing corner!

Old microwave cart becomes 'sewing cabinet'
Old microwave cart becomes 'sewing cabinet'

So, how do YOU handle your organizational challenges?

Please link up your posts to the linky at Christian Homeschoolers taking a Stand -OR- leave your activities in the comments below.

Looking for past questions?  Check out:
*Autumn Activities 
*Handling the Morning Wake Up
*Homeschooling on the Really Hard Days
*Homeschooling a Challenging Middle Schooler (Special Needs and Aspergers)
*Computer Use in Homeschool

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TOS Crew Always IceCream Review!

Always Icecream - educational fun for your 7-12 year old girls
Always Icecream - educational fun for your 7-12 year old girls 

$4.99/month (first month only $.99)
2 months $9.98
1 year $29.99
Lifetime $99.99

Welcome to Always Icecream, the innovative play and learning website exclusively for girls between the ages of 7 and 12.

Ideal for Homeschoolers
A large share of our members are homeschooled and many of the ideas for the educational content originate from the experience of the founds as homeschool parents.  Always Icecream offers fun and relevant drills in core academic subjects embedded in a safe and loving community experience.  Parents are also given the option to choose Christian educational content if they want to offer this to their daughters.

Fun and Learning - "Girls Love Ice Cream"

Always Icecream serves "virtual ice cream," or $coops, to girls in exchange for practicing basic mathadvanced mathgeography, language arts, science, typing, and more. Girls use $coops to play fun games, decorate their homes on MiniWorld, and feed their virtual pets on Pet World. 

Your Daughter Will Have Fun Caring for Her Online Pets

Pet World is an example for a fun game in which girls learn to budget their virtual currency and regularly care for their pets. 

Always Icecream - educational fun for your 7-12 year old girls

Every Girl Finds the Learning Games That Fit Her Needs

Always Icecream offers a broad array of educational games ranging from basic math to geography, science and languages. All games have numerous difficulty levels so that all age groups can benefit. Achievement medals are awarded for motivational purposes and to document learning progress. Try our 50 States geography game for FREE (and test your own knowledge). 

As an added benefit, Always Icecream teaches your daughter basic internet skills in a safe and protected environment. Parents have the option to enable community features for their daughter, enabling her to communicate with her friends on Always Icecream. She also learns to provide feedback to the contributions of her friends. For added safety, communication on the site is monitored and reviewed before it is visible to other users. And, as parents, you receive regular email updates about the learning activities of your daughter. 

Always Icecream - educational fun for your 7-12 year old girls

The ability to type on a keyboard is a lifelong skill. Our Ice Cone Machine is a fun typing tutor. As the student's typing skills improve she earns more $coops that she can spend in other games such as Pet World to care for her pets.

Always Icecream - educational fun for your 7-12 year old girls

Our experience:

Originally I asked to review Always IceCream because at first glance it looked 'cute, pink and fun' for my 8 year old daughter.  After reading the following bit of information, I knew I had made a good choice:

ONLINE GAMES FOR GIRLS - Online games for girls are games that have been specifically designed to meet the interests and curiosity of girls. This gender-focus makes it possible that "girls can be girls" without the fear of being bothered by boys who tend to make fun of everything that girls consider "cute." On Always Icecream, online games are embedded in an online community, making the playing of online games a form of social activity among girls. For parents who dislike online social communities, Always Icecream provides the option to turn this set of features off. 

I have to say that on further inspection of all this site has to offer, I am very impressed with the various types of learning games and the depth of learning!

There is SO MUCH on this website:
Animal Group Names
Basic AND Advanced Math (fractions, decimals, exponents)
Health and Anatomy
Geography (World and US, Capitals and more!)
Classical Music & Instruments
Foreign Language (English, Spanish, German)
Bible Quiz, New Testament, Bible Verses

Though my daughter is not interested in the social aspect of this website, I would be comfortable allowing her to 'chat' with the few virtual friends she has made as they were all invited and 'okayed' by me.

I do have to say that the US Geography game did help her immensely because the "Where is "x" state" questions repeat themselves from round to round (almost like playing 'Simon') .  This is paramount in building long-term memory of the 50 states!

She enjoyed playing the games to earn 'scoops' to take care of her virtual pets.  But because she isn't a strong reader, she did need help with some of the games as they got more difficult with each advancing level.  This did lead to some frustration.

I really thought this website was a hands-down hit, until she suddenly stopped playing.  She explained to me that the games were getting too difficult and that earning enough 'scoops' in order to take care of her pets was almost impossible.

So, visually the site appeals to younger girls,  but content wise it's geared toward older girls.

Check out a Free Trial for yourself at!

Disclaimer:  I received a subscription free of charge in exchange for an honest review.