Thursday, March 31, 2016

Masterbooks Elementary Zoology REVIEW

We have had the amazing opportunity to review the Elementary Zoology Curriculum Set  for This set, geared for the 3rd to 6th grade levels, includes a weekly lesson schedule, consumable student worksheets and workbook, tests, quizzes, and an answer key. This set will fulfill 1 year of science for your homeschooler.

This set includes:

How We Used This:

We chose to follow the schedule in the Parent Lesson Planner for this course. The lessons are short in duration, but they pack in a lot of fun information. The activities do not take a huge amount of time, so it was easy to work it in every other day. In addition to our daily work, we took a trip to the zoo and aquarium as icing on the cake! 

The World of Animals: This is a FANTASTIC book! The pages are so very colorful and with detailed photos. Mr. B enjoys reading this for fun, in the car, at the doctor, everywhere! The front cover features a Tiger that moves as you move the cover back and forth (I love those types of photos pictures!) This is a large, hardcover book, at 8.5"x11.75" It covers the habitat and lives of over 1000 animals in 256 pages. It features fantastic photos, informational text, facts, and comparison. the flow is great, and it just makes sense. Starting out with small, little microscopic animals and moving up to the larger mammals. (HINT: Click the link to see a PDF sample of each book featured!)  

The Complete Aquarium Adventure: This is a field trip in a book! (And the cover even says so! ) This book is jam packed with goodies! There are information cards for animals and the ocean, pictures, BingOcean cards (lots of fun!!!) and activities. This is a fantastic resource to use when going to the aquarium, but not everyone has the ability to go to a real aquarium (or aquarium like place such as a marine life park or the beach) so this book is written in such a way that it brings the aquarium to you! So while it is great to use if you're going to the aquarium, it is perfectly acceptable to use it at home on your own, too. You won't be lacking either way!

The Complete Zoo Adventure: Like the Complete Aquarium Adventure, this is a Zoo in a Book! It's great to use if you're blessed to go to the zoo, but it's great to use if you aren't able to get there, as well. We actually used this BEFORE we went to the zoo and aquarium, which augmented our experience at the zoo. And we will use it again before we go back next week! I love the activity pages and the Zoo journal. We have gone to the zoo several times before, but having this book makes the experience so much better! We were able to read up on the animals beforehand, see facts and such, and this led to a greater excitement when we finally got to see them! The included Field Fact Cards are probably my favorites! I like to randomly pick out a few and if we spot those animals we win a "prize" which is usually an ice cream or a tiny figurine of the animal from the gift shop! 

The Dinosaur Activity Book: Ok...I'll admit it. I thought this was "just a coloring book."  I was wrong! SOOOOO very wrong! This IS a coloring book, but it also has a variety of activities and loads of information on each page! The scenes to color are GREAT! Mr. B isn't that into dinosaurs or coloring, yet he LOVES to do this book! This is such a wonderful asset to this set! I'm thrilled it is included! It teaches more than just dinosaurs. It covers fossils, fossil formation and recontruction, etc. 

Parent Lesson Planner: The parent lesson planner is your information hub. It includes the daily schedule, consumable worksheets, quizzes, tests, and the answer key. I used the Parent Lesson Planner daily. Each day I would put an check in the box for that day's lesson to mark it complete. Sometimes Mr. B would do the honors of marking the check box complete! I find these PLPs very handy and useful. I love how the lessons are planned in such a way that we have the ultimate flexibility in choosing our scheduling. Each week has 5 days in the week, but you can opt to do the lessons in whatever manner you wish to choose. This works well for us since we need flexibility. The included bonus activities are great! For example, your child can be tasked with writing a one page paper on a chosen animal, discuss if frogs are in your area, drawing pictures of animals, setting up ant farms, etc. Lots of fun activities are included here. 

Zoo and Aquarium Photos


Overall, has outdone themselves again with Elementary Zoology. This is a Christian based science program, but it is not preachy or lacking in any way. I'm admittedly hesitant when it comes to religious based science curriculum because I know Mr. B wants to go to college, and as such he is going to need a varied background in science for that reason.  Other religion based programs we have tired in the past were lacking in multiple ways, such as neglecting to mention Galileo invented his telescope on purpose, instead they said "some man" happened upon two pieces of glass as if it was all an accident. As a result, I've preferred to teach him the religious principles myself along with a secular science. With that said, I would use Elementary Zoology over and over again! It is based on a Christian perspective, but it is not preachy or lacking in science fundamentals at all. This is a well planned, well written comprehensive course that does not leave anything out. The age range is great! It is challenging for Mr. B who is 10, but written in such a way that a 3rd grader (8yrs old or so) could complete the activities-perhaps with a bit of help with the reading. There is a moderate amount of reading to be done at times-like reading pages 16-19 in The World of Animals book, but the amazing photos and fun content make the reading easy. Mr. B reads it for FUN! He loves it! You can easily change the schedule as needed to fit your lifestyle and needs. This curriculum set is a very affordable science curriculum that covers a full year of science in a wonderful manner! 

Does Elementary Zoology Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

YES! The schedule is made in such a way that you can very easily customize it to fit you. Each unit is marked, so if you want to jump a unit you can, but I suggest working through according to the PLP for greater ease and understanding. You can take breaks if needed. I wouldn't advise skipping just because the information is so great and activities are great, too. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This is a physical product that includes everything you need for the full year. There are NO hidden fees. The published grade range is 3rd-6th. I could even see some 7th graders using this! So you can use this with multi ages with ease, though younger grades may need a bit of assistance and modification. The Complete Zoo Book and The Complete Aquarium Book suggest photocopying field trip pages to use again and again. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

This is NOT boring. Mr. B doesn't love reading, but he loves this reading. He reads The World of Animals all the time, constantly bringing it to me to tell me what he's learned next. The activities are not time consuming, and can be finished in 10-15 minutes. The Dinosaur Activity Book is fun with coloring, dot-to-dot, etc. intertwined with educational text. The Zoo and Aquarium books are full of fun learning that will keep your child attentive and engaged. I find this perfect for Autism and ADHD due to the amazing photos and flow of text and activities.  

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

You can find ways to tie this in with other subjects, but this is only a science curriculum from a Christian perspective. It does not include history or grammar lessons, or anything like that. It is a full, stand alone, science curriculum that blends and flows wonderfully with the Elementary World History You Report! we are already using. 

** I received this from in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. **

Tips for Homeschool Parents Day 4: Out of Town Doctor's Appointments

We have to go out of state for specialist appointments on a regular basis. Keeping up with school work can be a daunting task, and keeping down the dread of the trip even more so. Here's a checklist I use to make the event a little easier. Take a copy with you so that you can use it when you pack up to return home to ensure you don't leave anything behind.

1.) Take all of your medications with you, plus an extra couple of doses. This is just in case there is a hospital admission, longer stay, or something gets spilled. Make sure to mark down the doses and times given if you do not take the entire bottle so that you can properly alert the doctor.

2.) Take a list of medical history for both your child, and your extended family to 1st cousin level at least. This will help mental blanks when you are asked to give specific information. I can't count the number of times I've felt like an idiot for not remember medical history that I should know!

3.) Take a list of all over the counter medications, vitamins, and supplements, included essential oils. This is so that the doctor can make sure there will be no interactions.

4.) Toiletries. Have you any idea how often I've left our toothbrushes home? Or the hair brush? OR DEODORANT?!

5.) Be sure to pack the favorite blanket, lovie, stuffy. You do NOT want to get out of town and not have this! Be sure to bring it back home! Also include a small toy, some books, or electronic device for the hotel room, car ride, office wait.

6.) Take an Extra change of clothing. We had an incident the last trip where Mr. B was afraid to use a public restroom and never told me he had to go to tinkle. Needless to say, I'm very thankful for the extra pants and underwear!

7.) Snacks and drinks on the way there will cut down on fast food and cranky kids! We opt for granola bars, small bags of chips, gatorade and bottled water.

8.) Small bills for vending machines and change for parking. A lot of vending machines will not take plastic! Note: Some ONLY take plastic! And parking meters can be torture with no quarters! Don't forget extra spending cash for unexpected expenses. I always hide mine in a few different places so that if someone steals one, I have a back up $20 to get us home.

9.) Directions for the main route there, and a backup plan. On one of our trips last year I was stuck without the use of my iPhone due to a problem with the service provider. I ha a set of directions printed out, but the route given was blocked thanks to a road closure and construction work. I had to find free wifi to use my phone, pull up a map, and plot my own route. It took an extra 2 hours to do all of this in an unfamiliar city!

10.) Don't forget the swimsuits! Many hotels have indoor pools that are open year round!

11.) "Paper games" for the doctor's office. I have a book of different paper games, and I keep a small box of crayons in my purse since Mr. B likes to draw on the paper covering the exam table.

12.) School work packets. Often time I will include some sort of field trip experience so that Mr. B doesn't have to do paper work while we are gone, or a book. If not, then I print off smaller packets of worksheets for him, with the answer keys for easy grading.

13.) Plan something fun. We have memberships to zoos and science centers so that we can go for no extra cost now. This is fantastic since, after the initial expense of $85-$150, we no longer have to pay admission of 60-70 plus parking each time. Plus we get discounts in the gifts shops! This also allows Mr. B to look forward to the trips, instead of dreading them.

These are a few of the things I do to make sure we have a smooth, easy trip. I hope these help you!

Check out more great tips by these fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers!

  Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom's Plans

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tips for Homeschooling a Child with Autism

Homeschooling kids with special needs presents a unique set of challenges, and no two kids are the same. In our world, Autism and ADHD rule the roost. After homeschooling K-5th so far, I've learned a few tips and tricks to make things go more smoothly. 

1.) Break up the work
Kids with autism are usually very literal and concrete thinkers. If I put a large textbook in front of Mr. B he thinks he has to finish the entire book at one sitting. I will rebind books into smaller segements, X out the consumable page and make copies for our own use (if needed, contact the vendor and explain your situation to make sure you aren't violating copyright!) Or I will put in page dividers. When possible, I use curriculum choices such as Memoria Press that has smaller student books that are sectioned in a manner that he can see how much he has to complete at one sitting. It's also great to find products that allow for copies or encourage it. Online curriculum like A+ Interactive Math or  is great because you can print off the worksheets as they are needed.

2.) Take Breaks
Sensory diets are a breeze to work into your homeschool day. You are in control so you can take a break when needed, spend extra time when needed, or even take a whole day off when needed. Kids learn by more than just book and paper work, you can choose to watch documentaries, do fun hands on activities, or nature walks. 

3.) Promote self paced learning. 
I do not want to have to prompt Mr. B to attend to task all the time so I promote self paced learning. I choose products that are easily navigable for him to see what needs to be finished, and the way to get there. UnLock Math is great for this. Each section for the lessons has a path of sorts that your child can follow to know what to do and when. I will also use worksheets and page dividers. I do not care what order he does his work in, so long as he finishes it all. 

4.) Take it Easy
Don't put too much stress on your child. Try to promote a love of learning so that they will be eager to learn on their own. 

5.) Cater to your child's strengths
Mr. B LOVES meteorology. So we use it. I earned a minor in meteorology because I used my college meteorology classes as a reward for Mr. B behaving well in my other classes. I will use weather books as reading, science, and geography. I will use weather programs as a reward for finishing his school work in an acceptable time frame. And we will do weather themed lesson work. 

6.) Hands on or multisensory are the ways to go!
We LOVE hands on learning! We LOVE multisensory learning! Homeschool in the Woods is a GREAT history program for autism since it is hands on, crafty, and easily self paced. Dynamic Literacy WordBuildOnline is a great language arts spelling/reading/word stuff program for autism since it is multisensory and it uses a different approach to spelling (spelling for meaning vs. spelling for hearing.) 

7.) Realize your child's academic abilities
It's ok for your child to be on a collegiate level in reading and a 2nd grade level in writing. Knowing this will enable you to build up the writing skills! There is power in knowledge, and knowing your child's abilities will give you the ability to build those skills that are lacking. Look for placement tests to determine your child's level. Take the test multiple times. Some days your child may just be having a bad day and will test lower than they would otherwise. 

8.) Social skills and daily living skills. 
Homeschooling is GREAT for autism for social skills and daily living skills. Thanks to homeschooling, I can take Mr. B out in the real world to teach him how to socialize in the way he will need to know as an adult. I can teach him how to grocery shop, do banking, buy a car, go to the doctor, fill out papers, and conduct himself in a wide variety of settings. We can work on daily living skills such as basic personal hygiene, household chores, etc. All of this would be lacking in a public school setting. 

Homeschooling is a great choice for autism. You can foster a love of learning in your child and encourage your child to develop the means to learn on his/her own. You can take the time to teach the skills they need in order to live productive lives, and you can do so in a one on one fashion that the public school system can not provide. 
Check out my fellow Crew Mates to read more Homeschool Tips for Parents! 
Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Katie @ Katie's Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Memoria Press Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set *REVIEW*

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
I have such a hard time when it comes to teaching Mr. B literature. I LOVE to read, and I'll read nearly anything I can. He's not that into reading, and can be very picky. He loves information books, as he calls them, but fictional selections aren't his thing. I find it very important to read a wide variety of topics and styles, but teaching it has always been difficult. Memoria Press greatly eased that difficulty with their Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set
The Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set features four books set in the middle ages. Each literature guide comes with the guide as well as a teacher's manual with answers. The guides are broken into chapters or every 2 chapters, and the questions are very thought provoking. They are not simple read and regurgitate style questions. The student guides include reading notes, vocabulary, reading comprehension questions, and extended learning questions and enrichment that promote critical thinking and discussion, as well as additional learning. 

In this set you will find Student Guides and Teacher Manuals for:

1.) Adam of the Road
2.) Robin Hood
3.) A Door in the Wall
4.) King Arthur

Memoria Press has even made it easy to obtain the novels by offering you the option to order the sets complete with the novels needed. 
For this review we received All 4 student guides with their corresponding teacher manuals. 

How we used this:

We chose to read A Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli, for this review. This is a Newbery Medal winning novel that is geared for children who are roughly 12 years old, making it very suitable for the 6th grade age level. This is a rather short novel at only 128 pages, but the writing style and vocabulary used make it a more difficult read than one would imagine. I would say this is very much on par with a middle 6th grade student, or even a slightly later 6th grade student. Mr. B is considered 5th grade, but his reading level is very high.
This book is about a 10 year old boy, Robin,  during the medieval times who has been hit with an illness that has rendered his legs useless. To escape the plague that is wiping out his village, a monk (Brother Luke) takes in Robin and helps him gain strength of both body and mind, while also learning important new skills. Robin wonders how his parents will feel about him when they realize he will never be the knight he was supposed to become. Robin's skills and strength are put to the test when he is forced to take action to save the castle. 
The student guide begins with chapter one, with 2 pages dedicated to each section.  The majority of the rest of the student book is divided into two-chapter sections. As a result, your student must read carefully or else he or she will need to refer back to the book to find the correct answers. The questions are not simple questions with an obvious answer, but rather they are questions that will require your student to actually read and understand what they are reading.

At first I had Mr. B read a chapter at one time, then do the student pages right after, but this was too much for him to do with 2 chapters per student pages set. So I broke it up a bit more. I would have him read one chapter, and answer the questions he could from that chapter one day, then the next day he could read the next chapter, and so on. A couple of times we did the vocabulary portion on one day, read a chapter and a did a page the next, and then finished on the 3rd. Some chapters took him a couple of days to finish because fiction just isn't his cup of tea. His age and maturity level played a large part in his ability to read several pages at one time. Overall, he has really enjoyed
A Door in the Wall, and brings it up often. 
My Thoughts:

This literature set is well planned, well written, and well executed. The book choices are very interesting and fit will with medieval studies. The reading level is challenging, but not so much that a child in the intended age range would find great difficulty. I would say it is on par age wise, both subject matter and challenge level. Mr. B did very well with it, but his reading level is very advanced. He did stumble over a couple of words, but nothing too drastic. I will say, from a special needs/Autism point of view, some of the open ended and more abstract inference based questions were hard for him. I had to gently lead him to discover the answer through prompting questions. One question, from chapters 4 & 5, asked what Robin did that made the other boys accept him. Because the book did not explicitly say the boys had grown to accept Robin because of X, Y or Z, Mr B had a hard time answering. So I had to find the section in the book, read it to him a few times, and ask questions about it that gently lead to him understanding they were accepting him now. One change I'd like to see in future prints would be the addition of page numbers in the teacher's manual. I often found myself needing to refer to the book and spend a great deal of time reading and searching to find the passage that contained the answer to the question so I could properly explain it to him. Adding page numbers would make that much more efficient. Other than that, I love everything about the program. I love the presentation of the questions, the abstract nature that promotes critical thinking, and the overall subject matter. We can't wait to start the next book! We've not decided yet which one to do, but I know it will be great. I love how all of these guides work together to cover a wide range of literature concepts. 
Here is a link to the Robin Hood Sample from their site. This is by far the largest of both the student guides and teacher's manuals. It includes an appendix with maps, and a glossary of vocabulary terms and characters, as well as poetry. This will give you an excellent idea of the structure and style of the guides. The guides for all of the books are similar in style and structure, they just vary in size and concepts that they focus on. They each vary just enough to keep things interesting and to cover a wide range.  For example, King Arthur has more poetry in the appendix, while Adam of the Road doesn't have a separated Appendix (though it is distinguished at the bottom of the page) but it does teach meter and rhyming in poetry, and the glossary is sectioned into chapters which I really like. There are quizzes, midterm exams, and final exams included in each teacher's manual, though some have more quizzes than others. Like the student guides, each includes supplemental text in the appendix, as well as a vocabulary guide. The teacher's manuals are a wonderful resource to have on hand! 

Does Memoria Press Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

YES! Because the guides are independent of one another you can choose which book to read and in what order. You can work at your child's pace with reading, but understand that they will need to remember what they have read to accurately answer the questions. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This is long lasting in that it covers 4 books that will take some time to read. If you do a book each 6-8 weeks, then you will cover 1 year. There are no hidden fees, other than the cost of the books. This particular set is for 6th grade, but I could see 7th grade or an advanced 5th grader enjoying this as well. It is challenging enough for an older student I think. If your child is interested in the Middle Ages, this is a great fit. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

This is a matter of personal preference. Mr. B likes the book we chose to read for the review. Others may not. In that sense, it may be boring if you don't like the book. The questions are thought provoking. Duration is child dependent. Mr. B usually spent 30-45 minutes reading, and about 15-20 in answering the questions.  

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

If you are doing a Medieval Times study, this is PERFECT!


Twitter (@MemoriaPress)

Instagram (@memoriapress) 




Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed a number of products in addition to the Sixth Grade Literature Set. Literature guides for Kindergarten level through 9th grade are all covered in this review. Please click the banner below for more!
Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5 Days Blog Hop: Tips for Homeschool Parents Day 2

Day 2: Making Time for Everything
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Just the other day I found myself in a stress induced vent session with my mom exclaiming, "You don't understand! I NEVER get a break!" Her reply was, "Well sweetie, neither did I!" I replied by informing her that yes, yes she did. She sent my brother and I to school from 8am to 3pm five days a week, that's a HUGE break in the day to get things done that need to get finished. Doctor office visits, house cleaning, food shopping, "me time," work, all of these things seem to get pushed the back burner all too often in my life. I don't have school to use as child care during the day, it's all on me. That can be overwhelmingly stressful at times. Here are a few things I do to ease the time constraint just a little. 

1.) Daily Quiet Time

It seems like a simple concept, but we really have to make time for daily quiet time. He can do as he wants, but it has to be a quiet activity. He can use his computer, tablet, read, draw/color, watch TV....whatever so long as it is quiet and doesn't involve making a mess. During his quiet time I will either enjoy my own quiet time and play on the PC or read, or I'll get some house work finished. We are taking a Spring Break this week, so he is currently playing with a train simulator on his PC and I'm working on some blog work, doing some laundry, and starting my spring cleaning. 

2.) Early Morning or Late Night ME TIME

I find myself waking early to get M off to work. I used to go back to sleep since I was usually up late getting things ready for the next day, so I was always sleepy. I have changed up my sleep schedule so that I can stay up after he goes to work and enjoy some time alone. I can get a lot of things done, or I can just veg out in the recliner and watch a little TV, play on the internet, etc. There are times when i will still sit up pretty late, and I tend to de-stress with online games or my favorite TV programs. DVR is a great thing. Never underestimate the power of reruns of The Golden Girls to make a mom feel refreshed! HAHA! 

3.) I work when he works

As he's doing his school work, I get my work done, too. I will often be working on a blog, review, photo editing, required reading, etc. while he is doing his school work. I can work side by side with him so I can still keep him on task and be there to help him as needed. 

4.) We take Burst Breaks

We will take a 15 minute burst break where we stop what we are doing and we tidy up a room for 15 minutes. This not only gives us a few minutes to burn some energy, but it also lessens the household chore burden on me. M will also help when he comes home by carrying heavy baskets of laundry from one floor to the other, and taking out the trash for me. 

5.) Family Chores

On the Weekends we tend to dedicate Saturdays to getting things done, such as yard work. I will also help out there by mowing where I can while he's outside playing. Our yard is a two tiered lawn so while he's on the upper portion I can mow the lower without fear of him getting in the way and getting hurt. M will usually help me with unfinished house projects, or help me clean floors since that task really aggravates a back injury I have. M keeps his "Man Cave" tidy, and he will carry laundry, take care of the trash, and unload the dishwasher for me. He would load the dishwasher too....but...I'm a bit picky there HAHA!

6.)  Childcare

We all have a need for child care at times. I usually take him with me to all of my appointments and use these as a learning opportunity, but of course there are some that require childcare. I will swap child care with others who need it. Or I will enlist the help of family when they can. Sometimes, I just have to reschedule until I can get someone who is available to sit with him for me. This is by far the hardest part of homeschooling. It is always best to have a plan in place for child care, then have a back up plan, and a back up for your back up plan. Let prospective caregivers know well in advance of all appointments so that you have time to reschedule if needed, and they have time to plan their schedules as well. It is NEVER a good idea to wait until the last minute to try and find a sitter. Before M started his new job, he had to take Mr. B to work with him on occasion because we couldn't find a sitter.

7.) Everything Else

I will take him with me food shopping and use this as some of our school work. I'll give him a budget and he has to do his own shopping with that budget. I've also started teaching him out to coupon. We are in a unique position where he has weekly visitation with his bio-dad, and he will sometimes get him on Mondays so I can schedule some things for Mondays and get things done with my child-free Monday time. I will often get him started on school work, then tackle housework in between his lessons. And I never turn down the offer of Mamaw asking to take him with her somewhere! I also put a lot of effort into our homeschooling choices-choosing products that cover more than one subject or products that are pre-planned and laid out in such a way that it reducing the need for extensive planning. Great planners are an invaluable part of my life, and I can't stress that enough. 

Homeschooling is time consuming. But it can be tackled in such a way that you can fit in everything that NEEDS to be done with everything you want to do as well. The most important thing to remember is that your children are only little once. Take time to enjoy them, and know that the rest can most often wait a little while. Your house doesn't have to be museum perfect, and it's ok if Mount Laundry waits another day. Spend time with your kid/kids and enjoy them while you can. 

Please check out my fellow Crew Review members below! 

Dawn @ Double O Farms
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Debbie @ Debbie's Homeschool Corner
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook
Diana @ Busy Homeschool Days
Diana @ Homeschool Review
Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Monday, March 28, 2016

Playing the Part BOOK REVIEW

Today I'm excited to bring you a review of Jen Turano's book, Playing the Part. Jen Turano is so skilled with her humorous and comical writing. She skillfully and wittingly creates characters that are meaningful, complex, and real. This is a great adventure mixed with humor, a dash of inspiration, romance, and just enough mystery to keep things interesting. Set in the Victorian period, Playing the Part is face paced, well balanced, and well written with a funny storyline and characters you'll fall in love with. Overall, I loved it! It kept me laughing, and kept me turning to the pages to find out what funny situation was going to happen next! 

About the book: 

Playing the Part (Bethany House, March 2016)

Can they accept who they are behind the partthey play in time to save the day?

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can't ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it'll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Jen Turano, author of the Ladies of Distinction series and the A Class of Their Own series, is a graduate of the University of Akron. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Susan Woods Fisher The Imposter Review

Book Information

the imposterA heart once deceived should not be easily fooled again . . .
Katrina Stoltzfus thought she had life and love all figured out: she was going to marry John and live happily ever after. But as her plans crumble before her eyes, she struggles to face an uncertain future. When a widow asks for help starting a new business, Katrina quickly agrees. She needs time to heal her broken heart, to untangle her messy life, to find a purpose.
What she doesn’t need is attention from Andy Miller, a farmhand who arrives at the widow’s farm just when help is most needed–and who always seems to say the right thing and be in the right place, at the right time. Is Andy for real or too good to be true? She’s been deceived once before, and she isn’t planning on experiencing it again.

Author Information

suzanne-croppedSuzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest  Post from Suzzanne Woods Fisher

If you think you have a pretty clear idea of what an Amish bishop is like—stern, authoritative, patriarchal?—have another think. David Stoltzfus in The Imposter is warm, kindhearted, a reluctant farmer, and quite attractive!
Sound like an unlikely character for an Amish novel? Maybe so, but David Stoltzfus is modeled after a bishop I met, years ago. This real-life bishop might be the most intelligent, thoughtful, spiritually sensitive, and well-read man I’ve ever met. We spent a morning talking Bonhoeffer in his Spartan living room, warmed by his woodstove.
I wanted to present the character of a bishop that best represented this man I’d grown to admire. So when it was time to create a proposal for a new series, I suggested ‘The Bishop’s Family,’ starring David Stoltzfus who was loosely based on this particular bishop.
Very loosely.
David Stoltzfus is a handsome, widowed father of six who runs a local bulk food store. His children are surprisingly nonconforming, outspoken, and fiercely protective of their clan. The real-life bishop is a farmer, happily married with four independently minded children, and looks…well, to be candid, he looks a little like Benjamin Franklin.
But here’s what they have in common: they both love to read, they love their families, and they love the work God has given them of tending a flock.
The Imposter begins as David Stoltzfus moves his family to Stoney Ridge for a fresh start, a new beginning. Things don’t start off well: his eldest daughter, Katrina, faces a crushing disappointment, his prodigal son Jesse has a bent for troublemaking, and then David realizes something fishy is going on in the little church.
A new life awaits the Stoltzfus family, but not the one they expected. Or wanted. But they are needed in Stoney Ridge, each one of them. Even Jesse. J
I hope you’ll feel as though you’ve made some new friends as you get to know David and his children. One thing I can promise: this bishop’s family will surprise you.
Happy Reading!
Warmly, Suzanne

My thoughts:

Suzanne Woods Fisher has a way with weaving an intricate story with fantastic and life-like characters. One feels as if you are really there, in the same time and space, as the story is taking place. The characterization of each character, especially Andy and Katrina, is superb. Katrina is faced with tragedy over the loss of her mother and her life being turned upside down. You can feel how hard it is for her to open up once more, and love again. This book is full of twists and turns, and it certainly isn't a total giveaway! I love when books make you read to know what's next, instead of throwing out so many hints that it's more or less pointless to keep reading because the ending has already unraveled. This isn't true with The Imposter. As always, this has a nice overtone of Christian faith, but it's not overly preachy. I hope you enjoy! 


Suzanne is graciously giving away a Kindle Fire 7! Click below to enter! 

Blog Tour Stops

March 22: Quiet Quilter
March 23: Heidi Reads…
March 24: Splashes of Joy
March 24: Mary Hake
March 25: cherylbbookblog
March 25: The Power of Words
March 26: Just Commonly
March 27: Giveaway Lady
March 28: Lane Hill House
March 28: Marilyn Ridgeway
March 29: Rhonda’s Doings
March 30: A Greater Yes
March 31: Texas Book-aholic
March 31: A Holland Reads
April 1: Bukwurmzzz

April 4: Books! Books! Books!

I received this from CelebrateLit in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. 


Tips for Homeschooling an Only Child

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Homeschooling an only child can seem like an easy task, but it actually presents with some interesting challenges. Many programs are designed in such a way that they are best fit for multiple children. Then there's always that pesky childhood socialization question we homeschool parents are always inundated with from nearly everyone we encounter. So, how do I homeschool an only child?


I've noticed a lot of products are geared to family or co-op settings, where multiple students would be able to utilize the products-thus saving families money. This is great if you have multiple children, but it's not so great for just one. It's really not great when those products are specifically for multiple students to use and require group type work. Sometimes I can get a group together to use a specific product and we can split the costs, other times I have to play the part of other students. This was easy with Here to Help Teaching where it was sort of designed for multiple student settings. The Sentence or Not Sentence part would be great for families or co-ops, but I had to play the part for us. 
There are times I will use a family plan in lieu of an individual plan. A+ Interactive is a great math program that offers mini classes, individual courses, or family plans that cover unlimited access across all grades. With special needs, our ability level may vary across grades. A set up like A+ Interactive is great since I can go back to an earlier grade anytime I need for a refresher, or go up a grade for more challenge. The individual grades are a great bargain for solo students.

Products like Dynamic Literacy WordBuildOnline work well with our only child status because it's an inexpensive price for as long as needed to complete the chosen level. This way we can take our time, and even spread it across grades if needed.

I try to find products that I can resale if needed or possible, especially if we find it just hasn't worked well with us. Not all vendors allow for resale, so always be sure to check with the copyright before doing so. I want to get the best bang for my buck, and get long use out of everything we use. Since we won't be reusing it in the future, I can often get a premium used price out of anything we sell because it has only been used once. On the flip side, I can also easily buy the score keys or non-consumables and save money by purchasing only the consumables new for several products. 


Oh this always gets me. My child is super socialized. He can interact with people from all different backgrounds, and that is true socialization. We go out and about all the time, trust me...he's socialized. BUT he's not the best at sharing his toys, and he's a natural born leader preferring to do things his own way. This isn't necessarily a bad set of traits to have-unless you are 10 and your friends want to share your toys. He also LOVES to have his friends over to play the games and such he can't do alone or with me. Sometimes that's exhausting to his friends!
It is a little harder to ensure he has age appropriate interaction. We have to make it a point to invite friends over, go on outings, playdates, etc. But at the same time, it's great to be exposed to others who aren't in your immediate family. So while some may see this as a negative, I see it as a positive. 


Our school day goes by pretty quickly. There are some days that may take 3 hours, but there are others when it only takes him an hour or just over to complete everything I have had planned for that day. Since I'm only focusing my attention on one child, I can easily help him when needed and we get finished much quicker than we would if there were multiples to keep track of. 


Basically, homeschooling an only child is AWESOME! You can save money by buying non consumables used and only purchasing the student packs. You can get higher value for your used products since they are used a lot less. You only need to buy 1 of everything, and it's usually really easy to tweak products intended for multiple students. Friends help fill the sibling void, and your child will grow up being a natural leader. And you have more time to devote to teaching, thus you get finished faster than you would otherwise. 

The Schoolhouse Review Crew is hosting a 5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents. Please click the banner below to check out some more great posts!