Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Drive Thru History Adventures REVIEW

Drive Thru History Adventures
Y'all, we love history in this house. History has been a passion of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper, seriously. Mr. B also really enjoys history, specifically Ancient History. That's why we were both ecstatic to get this review for Drive Thru History Adventures!

Drive Thru History Adventures is a subscription based service where you have online streaming access to the wonders of Drive Thru History, and an amazing curriculum to go with it.  For this review, we received a 1-year membership. 
Drive Thru History Adventures
Ok, so a lot of you have heard of Drive Thru History, so what makes this so much different? You have family access to a lot of content! There's Ancient History, which is what we focused on. Then you have American History, and Bible. In addition to that, there's also Drive Thru History Adventures TV! This streams across multiple devices, including both Android and iOS based devices. You can even stream with your TV using Chromecast. This way, your whole family can watch together, providing educational and family appropriate content with ease on your television. (This was our preferred mode of watching....)

Adventures TV is also great on the go. Mr. B can stream over his iPad or iPhone in the car, at the doctor, or even in the hospital. Even though to him, he's just watch TV, he's actually completing schoolwork, even when the situation wouldn't normally allow for it. He can watch the programming, and I have him work on the extra curriculum things later.

Which brings me to how we used this. You can choose to just watch the videos, or you can watch the videos and do some worksheets, or you can choose to dive right in to all of the curriculum activities. We chose a middle of the road approach between watching them and doing printed worksheets and diving right in. I didn't always have Mr. B read all of the additional readings. Sometimes I would read them before he got started, and I'd summarize for him. If you are doing this with a high school student, the additional readings would be fantastic! Going at this pace, we are almost a 3rd of the way through Ancient History Adventures, which covers ancient Rome, Greece, and Asia Minor.

The videos are an average length for a family program, so Mr. B occasionally needs a break here or there. So a 45 mins video might takes up 90 minutes to complete. The 1st lesson took us a bit of time. We spent 2 or 3 days going over the video, mainly because Mr. B wanted to keep watching over and over. Then we spent a couple of days working on the worksheets. After that, a few days are spent on the additional activities like Digging Deeper, or the additional reading. Usually, Mr. B would want to spend a day drawing pictures or relaying back to me everything he had learned in that lesson. 

An Inside Look
This is a screen snip of the video on my PC. I did reduce screen size to capture more. You can watch this in full screen mode, which is what we do, usually. 

I like how the photos and other resources are organized together, under the video. I'm glad there's no additional tabs to go to, or anything like that. It makes for an easy to follow course. 

The suggested reading is also included on the same page as the video, and this one has an included PDF, too. 

The discussion questions are great! We used them for mainly oral discussion, but you could do them as written essay questions, too. 

I love the worksheets!!!!!! I print these out the night before, and we work through them together. 

The worksheets have some really good questions that are both concrete and straight forward, like this one, and others that are more abstract that focus on critical thinking. 

I like how the sections are separated by photos of the same topic. 


Also, readers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine can receive 20% off your subscription. 


This is a great subscription! There's so much to do with it, and you can take it anywhere. It's great for special needs learners. It's great for families, and anyone else who just likes to watch factual, Bible based history programs. The curriculum resources are a great addition. David Stotts does an amazing job of bringing history to life by visiting the places we are learning about in the videos, and he does so with a sense of humor. My son was ugly laughing over David Stotts "getting lost" in Rome, only to find out the attraction was closed anyway! It's that sort of down to earth, fun, and lively experience that makes this curriculum work! 

Does Bytes of Learning 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?

You watch at your leisure, within  the confines of your subscription, and you also have access to Adventures TV so that you can take it with you on a number of device platforms. You can choose your episodes independently, and you can choose to use, or not use, the additional curriculum resources.    

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?

There are no hidden fees, but you are bound to the time restraints of your subscription. This is good for all ages, and perfect for families! 

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It's not boring. Mr. B has a hard time sitting still sometimes, so I do allow him to pause and take breaks as needed. The videos are very much like other documentaries in length. 

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

This includes a lot of history components! There's also additional reading and comprehension style questions so you could also include that. In addition to history and reading, you could use the discussion questions as writing prompts to get in a bit of Language Arts! 

Please see what my fellow Crew mates had to say over at The Homeschool Review Crew! 
Drive Thru History Adventures - Subscription {Drive Thru History Adventures Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wedding Wednesday, but on Saturday instead haha!

This is Lauren and John. Their wedding was as beautiful as the love they hold for one another. I was blessed by this family to not only do the wedding for Lauren and John, but also the weddings for Lauren's sister and brother, as well. This is truly a special family! You can read more about them on as the featured wedding on my other website!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bytes of Learning REVIEW

UltraKey Bytes of Learning
For the past several weeks, we were given an UltraKey Online Family Subscription to review for Bytes of Learning. This is an online based keyboarding program that teaches proper technique, and builds skill, accuracy, and speed. This keyboarding program by Bytes of Learning is good for all ages and skill levels. This subscription was good for up to 7 users, but I only needed it for one. 
UltraKey Online Family Edition
Our experience:
Mr. B needs keyboarding experience due to some fine motor issues with his hands. I wanted him to use this program 4 days a week, but with poor muscle tone in his hands, we used it 3 days a week, instead. This program uses video clips and voice over to teach the class. This is an effective means of instruction for special needs learners, and I really liked that part. I wish we were able to skip sections that we already knew. I can understand the need to NOT skip, but there were times when we really could have. Having the ability to skip unnecessary to us portions would have reduced time and frustration levels greatly. The lessons are not your normal "type the letter A..." style lessons, but rather they involve a varied difficulty level, and mixed letters from the same row or section. You have the ability to control your skill level to attune the program somewhat, and you can set your own goals. 
For a family subscription, you can add up to 7 students. I had initially planned to enroll both myself, and Mr. B. I could use accuracy conditioning to help reduce the amount of backspacing I use (like right here...3 times...) and Mr. B of course needs the full gamut. The issue I had was, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to choose a student! I set up goals for each of us, etc, but I was stuck with whatever auto pilot the program is set to. I am sure it's an oversight on my part, and this is why I've yet to contact support over it. It's not a big issue for us, since really it's only for Mr. B anyway. He can use it as is, but if you wanted multiple children to use, I'm really not sure how to switch between students haha! I would have sought to figure that out, but it was just fine for us this way so to me, it wasn't a big issue. 
Here are a few screen shots of the first couple of lessons and the overall layout:

This is your main screen.  when you log on. You can choose to see your account settings, subscription info, or go to your lessons. 
Here's a sample of your progress report. This is GREAT for portfolios. It auto updates after each lesson. Obviously, this was after we just got started. 

I like that there's color and it's not overly boring. Mr. B LOOOOOOOOOOOVES the background of the Earth like it's from the ISS. 

Here's a few screenshots of the actual lessons in progress. The lessons are really great. I'm seriously impressed. This is nothing like keyboarding classes I had in school! 

I like how it's color coded. This makes it easy for Mr. B to see his errors. 

Following the skills check, you can see how you are looking compared to your overall goals. This is great for motivation. 

There's also a game section with six games that reinforce your learning. 

After completing a game, you earn this little on screen award. 

Overall, this serves our need. It's a fun, easy to implement program that works for us. Mr. B does it without protest, though I do wish it was obvious how to change between students. Overall I would recommend this to others. 
Does Bytes of Learning 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?

You can set your own goals, but that's about as far as the customization goes. You can't really skip, or maybe that's just the way I have our settings. I wouldn't advise skipping lessons since you'll miss something important.   

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?

There are no hidden fees, but you are bound to the time restraints of your subscription. This is good for all ages. 

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It's not boring. Once I figured out how to stop the auto-speech, Mr. B was able to hold his attention much better because the lessons moved more quickly. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
This is only keyboarding. 

Please see what my fellow Crew mates had to say over at The Homeschool Review Crew! 

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 19, 2018

Learning about the Norman Conquest with Wulf the Saxon by Heirloom Audio Productions {{REVIEW}}

Heirloom Audio Productions is one of my most favorite vendors to review! I was so excited when Wulf the Saxon showed up in my mailbox that I'm surprised I didn't get any more strange looks from the neighbors over my squeal of delight than I did! HAHA! Wulf the Saxon is 2 1/2 hours of listening adventure that is sure to thrill your whole family!

Heirloom Audio Productions

Wow, where to even start....We love it. That's it...we just flat out love it! I don't think we have ever listened to an audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions that hasn't left us just speechless at the end, and this one is definitely no exception. 

I feel it is super important for me to distinguish between these audio adventures and an audio book. This is NOT like an audio book. There is an narrator who narrates the storyline, but it is not like a narrator who is reading, verbatim, a book. This is more like the narrator over a stage production play. There are a number of actors who portray each different character in the story, along with ambient and background sounds, etc. It is truly like watching a movie, but with your ears and not your eyes. You FEEL like you are really there! 

Wulf the Saxon
Heirloom Audio Adventure Club
About the Story: 

The story begins with Mr. George (as always) speaking to two young boys, explaining the ins and outs of kings, earls, and dukes. When the boys wish to hear more, the story begins. This story takes place when Edward the Confessor is the King of England, and is set in both England and France. Wulf is a very well respected young landowner who works hard to earn the same respect once given his father before him. He works under the Earl Harold. Harold would go on to be king, eventually, but that comes later. The story opens with Harold mildly chastising Wulf for a youthful mistake when he's only 16 years old in quarreling with another. Upon being pardoned, and welcome back into the King's court, Harold takes Wulf under his wing and Wulf becomes part of his inner circle. 
Harold shows his circle 5 ships, and the follow day they set sail. Wulf is on the same ship as Herald, and they head East. They find themselves in the middle of a strong storm. You can hear the winds blowing, the water spraying, and the ship creaking. The men are hungry, sea sick, and drenched. They finally see land, and attempt to maneuver the ship between the rocks for a safe docking. Shipwrecked, but alive, they rescued as many of the others as they could. I do not want to give away the entire story, but it progresses onward. Wulf and Herald find themselves in the middle of the Battle of Hastings.

I was working on the computer while listening to this the first time, and found myself trying to flip to a different tab to "watch" the movie. Then I laughed at myself for my mistake! These audio dramas are so real and full of great acting and ambient sounds that it's as if you're watching a movie. There is the distinct sound of a blacksmith's hammer between the first and second scenes that is so vivid, I could see it in my mind's eye.

Brian Blessed is still my favorite narrator of all times. He narrates as G.A. Henty between scenes, and does a beautiful job, as always. Alex York is a great Wulf, and Chris Larkin does fantastic as Herald. All of the character portrayals are top notch.
Overall, Heirloom Audio Adventures has another winning product. We loved it. Beyond that, the Live the Adventure Club is a favorite of mine. Here you can join the club and receive 3 CD shipments per year, take part in a message board community, and have access to all of your Audio Adventures and the bonus content that comes with them. Mr. B is so calmed by these audio adventures. We often listen to these on our extended medical trips, or even just family day trips. At 2.5 hours long, they are the perfect length to cover the story in great detail, but not be too much. They're also perfectly timed for our trip duration! 

Does Heirloom Audio Productions 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?

We received physical disks. These disks are broken up by chapters, so you can start and stop with ease. There's no schedule, or anything like that.  

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?

There are no hidden fees at all.  I would say this particular story is best for upper elementary to adult ages, but it's perfectly acceptable for younger students, as well. There are no grade ranges, as this is a family friendly product.  

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

This is definitely NOT boring at all! Heirloom Audio Productions totally grabs your attention, and takes hold! For those who maybe can't sit still too long, or those who do not wish to listen to much at one time, you can easily stop after each short chapter and listen to this over the course of a few days if you want. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
This works great with any history based on the same topic. If your order this yourself, you will also receive a discussion guide. We did not receive that with this review, but in reviews past we have used this guide as a discussion guide, for writing prompts, and comprehension studies. 

Please be sure to check out the rest of The Homeschool Review Crew to see what others have to say! 
Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How do I Start Homeschooling?

Right now in WV, teachers and other state employees are hitting the picket lines striking for better pay and better benefits. While I support the teachers, and other workers, kids are suffering the consequences. Due to social media posts, families are also discovering, in glaring detail, just how inadequate our public schools are. That, on top of the most recent school shootings, has led to a tremendous amount of people asking about homeschooling. While the laws stated here are only for WV, the tips and advice are for any new homeschooler.


The laws governing homeschooling vary from state to state. I've linked the state page that goes into detail with WV state homeschooling laws. I will also provide links to two different groups, HSLDA and WVHEA. Both deal with the rules and regulations with homeschooling. I'll give a brief run down here. These are all under the assumption there are no extenuating circumstances such as legalities surrounding CPS charges, truancy, etc. 

1.) To get started you must send in 1 notice of intent (NOI) There is a sample NOI under resources, getting started, on the WVHEA page. You are only required to send in one, unless you move. If you move out of the COUNTY, then you must notify the superintendent of the county you are leaving, and then upon moving in you are to send another NOI to the superintendent of the new county. This law recently changed, and some Board of Education (BOE) workers are not up to date on current laws, so it is a good idea to have a copy of the law handy just in case they are unaware of the recent changes. After all, we are all only human, and they deal with a lot of people on a daily basis.

2.) There is NO waiting period for homeschooling. You submit your notice of intent, and that's that.

3.) You do NOT need approval, nor do you have to have permission from a school principal, teacher, or any other employee.

4.) You must file a NOI for any child who will be turning 6 prior to September 1st for the remainder of the 2018 school year and the 2018/2019 school year. Beginning with the 2019/2020 school year, that will change to any child who turns 6 prior to July 1st. If you have already registered your child for Kindergarten, then you must file a NOI for them regardless of age.

5.) You can't graduate a child early. WV has a minimum age of 17, and each county can choose up to age 18 if they wish. So you can not issue a diploma to a 15 yr old and claim they have graduated.

6.) You must show progress via a portfolio review OR a national standardized test. The results of these reviews must be sent to the board of education for grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. You must keep these results for at least 3 years. For testing, your child's test scores must be in the 4th stanine or above. If they are not, they must be higher than the previous year's test scores. For a portfolio review, you must show progress through the year, and the work must be evaluated by a WV Certified teacher.

7.) You must teach the 5 core subjects of reading, science, math, language, and social studies. How you do this, and what materials you use is totally up to you. You are not required to list exact materials you plan to use, or provide a detailed lesson plan.

8.) You can homeschool your own child, or you can designate someone else to teach them, but whomever does the teaching must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. A college degree or post secondary certificate from an accredited school is also accepted, but most will urge you to provide the lowest level diploma/degree you have in order to maintain the current status quo.

9.) You can issue your child a homeschool diploma. There are a variety of sites where you can order these, or you can make your own. It is legal and must be accepted throughout the state. There are a number of students I know personally who have gone on to colleges from state public schools to private Ivy League universities without any type of diploma. There are a variety of Facebook groups dedicated to homeschooling through high school, and they are a wealth of information.

10.) Parents CAN administer their own assessment test provided the test perimeters allow for parent testing, and the test has been written and/or normed with in the last 10 years.

How do I start?

The first step is deciding to homeschool. Why do you want to? What is it that you hope to accomplish? The next step is to file your NOI and keep your kids home. I highly recommend letting them sleep in that first day, HAHA! Many first time homeschoolers, especially of the youngest students, wish to push their kids to a higher grade because they are advanced, or other reasons. I TOTALLY understand that feeling, BUT I always recommend staying with the youngest grade possible for a variety of reasons. Your child may seem advanced now, and that's GREAT, but the higher levels aren't necessarily more difficult due to academics, but more socially and maturity. There's a vast difference between 4th and 6th grade, for example.

I also suggest "de-schooling" for a period of time. Just relax, and really get to know your kids. They have been away from you for 7+ hours a day, 5 days a week, for a really long time. Get to know them. Figure out what they like. Figure out how they learn best. One may be more hands on, another may prefer reading non-fiction over fiction. Another may really want to take Latin classes! Who knows?! Get to know them in a way you've never known them before. Ask what they like about each subject. Find out what they don't like, and why. Little Johnny may claim he hates math because in 2nd grade he had a really hard time with subtraction, and the teacher had to move on before he mastered it so now math is really difficult. By knowing this, you can easily back up and fill in any gaps that may be causing difficulty and frustrations, leading to discontentment.


I can't tell you how many times I get asked, "What is the best curriculum to use?" And the answer? I have no idea! I'm not your kid! I'm not in your situation! The best for us is not the best for everyone else. Curriculum is a truly unique and individualized concept. I remember seeing BJU for the first time. Oh how I thought it was the best ever! I just knew it was going to be EXACTLY what we needed, and of course it was so expensive it had to be fantastic. I also remember the gun wrenching feeling when I realized I had wasted a LOT of money on something that we both hated. But a few of my friends LOVE BJU, and it works great for them! The most expensive doesn't mean the best out there. And it is definitely not the best if it brings about financial stress for your family.

There are different methods. Some people choose to go with all one method. Others, like me, choose to go with whatever works across the subjects. We do Charlotte Mason for some, traditional for others, and classical for the rest. I have several posts on choosing a curriculum that fits your family, so be sure to check those out. I'll link a few at the bottom.

Subscribe to my blog! I review loads of curriculum to give you an indepth look at what it's really like. Also check out The Homeschool Review Crew (link at the bottom.) Many of my crewmates review dozens of different things every year, and the Crew is a valuable source of curriculum reviews.

I do have a few favorites that I ALWAYS recommend to others. These companies provide resources that cover a wide range of grades and styles, and I feel they are more than worth the money for all they provide. offers more than 300 courses. They feature an online World Book, home planning, education from Pre-K to 12, and sooooo much more. You can search my blog for numerous reviews, and that's not even the tip of the iceberg of all that you will find there. Seriously, go check it out. I love these people there's seriously a page for everything. If we want dinosaurs, they're there. Rocks? You got it! Planets? Sure thing! It's THERE! We've been using this for years!

I will probably add a few more after tonight :)


The best advice I can give is this: There WILL be times where you question if you are doing the right thing, if you've made the right decision for your children. You will wonder if homeschooling is working, if you're doing a good job. You will regret ever starting. You will want to call the school and beg them to take your kids back. And then you will wake up the next day and realize all of those doubts and negative feelings were just temporary because if you can teach them to walk and talk, you can teach them to read. You will NEVER be able to teach them EVERYTHING they need to know. No one can! But you CAN teach them to learn. You can give them to greatest tool so that they can in turn teach themselves what you are unable to teach. That is the greatest piece of advice I can give anyone.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them or find an answer for you! Good luck, and God Bless!


5 Days of Homeschooling 101-Curriculum (This has links to several other bloggers, too!)


Homeschool Review Crew

*This post, like all posts, may contain affiliate links. These links do not cost you extra. I choose to become affiliates with products I TRULY love, and truly use and think others will love as well!*

Boxed Curriculum vs. Mix and Match

One of the biggest debates you may have with yourself, and even others, on your homeschooling journey is boxed curriculum vs. mix and match. You'll find folks from both sides who feel passionately about their choice, but which one is the one for you? That's a personal decision for each family, but here are a few pros and cons to help you make the decision for yourself!

Boxed Curriculum Pros:

1.) It all comes together, basically in one box. Hence the name, boxed. Need 7th grade? Easy enough. Just choose the 7th grade option, then wait on the delivery guy to show up in a couple of weeks.

2.) It usually has all of the core subjects, so you're not scrambling around to make sure you have the right subject, at the right time, for the right grade.

3.) Reusable/resale value. A lot of times, boxed sets are textbook based. You can easily put those books up for later use with a younger student, or in some cases (check the company policy first!) you may be able to resale.

4.) Pre-planned. Most boxed sets come pre-planned for convenience. Also known as "open and go," boxed sets will usually include a calendar for parents to follow.

5.) There's usually something for everyone. Most anyone can find a box set to match their chosen method or system of beliefs.

6.) Often, the subjects will pair with each other nicely. Whatever you are learning in history will also be the topic in reading.

Boxed Curriculum Cons:

1.) Price: Often times, complete boxed sets cost more. I've found that if I price each piece individually, I can often scrounge around and create the same set for hundreds less. Especially with literature, I can generally find the same required books for pennies on the dollar used off Amazon vs. new from the company.

2.) One size does not always fit all. Maybe your child is on a 5th grade math level, a 6th grade science level, and a 7th grade reading level? A boxed set isn't going to be easily tailored to fit your needs. This is especially true when it comes to special needs.

3.) Overwhelming. Boxed sets can seem daunting and overwhelming when the set arrives and you suddenly have five books just for geography, another three for math, and don't even get me started on history! It can be stressful when you are initially going through all of the books.

4.) The rigid structure can be an unnecessary hassle. One of the main reasons we homeschool is for flexibility. With a boxed set, there's often a pre-planned set of days. While that's great in one sense, it can be easy to get caught up in the "we have to finish this by day 62...OR ELSE!" Or else...what? One of the main questions I get asked on a regular basis is, "What happens if we don't finish our set in 180 days? What if we need 190 days?" My answer? Then you take 190 days! Homeschooling is about flexibility and the ability to set your own schedule, not a pre-planned one.

Pros with a mix and match curriculum:

1.) Skill level doesn't always coincide with grade level. When you mix and match, you can truly tailor your child's education to his/her own unique levels. My son may be in 7th grade, legally, but he still needs help with some lower level math skills. With mix and match, I can easily choose a family plan for math that allows us to move about grade levels with ease, rather than being stuck with 1 grade level book and a lot of frustration and learning gaps.

2.) Ease of flexibility. I can plan what we do, when we do it. Sure, it's not as easy as opening a box and just starting, but the freedom and lowered stress of not having a pre-planned calendar staring at me is nice. There are also a lot of single subject courses that are still planned for you. We are using a history program now that is labeled day 1, day 2, etc. and based off of a 5 day week. It's great that it's not labeled as starting on any particular day, and I can check off the days we've completed as we go. But if we want to take a month off of it, and do something else, we can with no worries at all about starting back again. We don't have to worry about keeping up in history so that our reading-or another subject- will make sense. While it is nice to have them match, it's much easier to move at an individualized pace between two distinctly different programs.

3.) We can include both secular and non-secular choices. Boxed sets are typically one or the other. This way, we can have both as we want.

4.) We can have a variety of different methods and forms. My son prefers to do some things online, and others with pencil and paper. With mix and match, I can customize his day so that he gets a good mix of both. We can do history online, and we also have book and paper history for other days. He can do math online, but we can also pick up a math workbook and focus a bit more on a harder-for-him concept. We can do more hands on for science, and stick to the internet for reading. Whatever the combination, mix and match is the way to go for variety.

5.) Interest driven is a possibility with mix and match. Does your child want to study anatomy, but that 7th grade set calls for Earth Science instead? With mix and match, you can choose whatever topic you want, when you want it. Right now, my son wanted to study great explorers to 1815, even though other boxed curriculum wanted to put him in late american history or even the middle ages. I believe children learn best, and retain more, when they are truly interested in what they are studying. Mix and match gives you the ability to choose what interests them the most.

6.) Family learning. With mix and match, you can choose programs that the whole family can use at the same time. You can have a younger student working on the same topic as an older, but the work is tailored to their levels.

Cons with mix and match:

1.) Time consuming. It can be time consuming and stressful to pick and choose exactly what you want, and what you need.

2.) Second guesses. You may second guess yourself. Did you choose the correct level? What if you forgot something needed? Do you really need those optional flash cards? What if Little Susie doesn't learn everything she's supposed to in 4th grade history? What if Little Johnny isn't on the exact same language arts program as the neighborhood kids? Freedom and flexibility can come with a certain level of stress.

3.) Shipping costs: I personally hate shipping costs, haha! Nothing like saving that 10% only to turn around and have to spend 14.99 on shipping! If you're internet savvy, you can often times find free shipping codes, or other promo codes. If not, shipping costs can add up, over time.

4.) Going overboard. It is very easy to go overboard when shopping for curriculum. You may find yourself wanting your child to learn everything there is to know about the Civil War, and end up with way too much in the way of resources and materials.

As you can see, there are a lot of good and bad with either option, and it is important to choose what is best for your situation. I hope I've listed enough pros and cons to help you make the right choice for your family!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I took this photo on the campus of Grove City College in Grove City, PA. I was there to shoot a wedding one cloudy Saturday afternoon. I loved the architecture of the school, but this building stood out to me. It was different from the rest. The rest were your stereotypical red brick exterior, but this one was like a beacon set against the others. I wanted to capture this beautiful building, but just standing there taking a straight on photograph didn't work for me. It looked clinical and boring. That's where PERSPECTIVE comes in.

Life is all about perspective, and our perspective can change. We are influenced by a number of things-Our family, friends, strangers, events, even social media memes. How many Facebook friends do you have who base their assumptions on a Facebook share, or share headline grabbers without checking the validity of those shares? All of that shapes our perspective for, or against, something. 

Thinking about perspective, I had Mr. B do his language arts, today. I admit, we are a bit behind in Language Arts because he pretty much hates it. He doesn't like anything to do with it. He couldn't care less if a word is an adverb, direct object, or pronoun. He just doesn't like it. So instead of nagging, getting hateful, and pretty much forcing him to do it, I changed the perspective. I sat there like I was doing it, and like I had no idea what I was doing so he'd have to "help me" get the answers correct.

Changing his perspective from him doing it, to me doing it, caused him to think it was fun to correct me. AND it caused him to do a full week's worth of language arts! 

We can apply this same concept across our every day life. Look at things in a different way, think about the world in a different way, and approach problems in a new, and different way. Let me know how it works out for you! 

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, February 5, 2018

Charlotte Mason Method

I have so many friends who are 100% CMers. CM meaning Charlotte Mason of course. The Charlotte  Mason Method was developed by Charlotte Mason, a British educator whose life purpose was the education of children. She sought to improve education for all children, regardless of their social status. Back in the 1800s when she taught, Children were educated based on their social status, with the rich and well to do getting the best education, of course. She believed ALL children deserved a quality education. Her belief was that the child is a person, and the whole of that person should be educated-not just the mind.

 “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason believed we should surround the child with living education, not dry and boring facts. If the child is immersed in wonder and life, they will absorb much more of what they are learning than if they are presented with facts to merely memorize, regurgitate, then promptly forget. Children were to be raised knowing how to behave through good character habits. The school room was the world. Instead of teaching handwriting and spelling through rote memorization, Charlotte Mason would have students copy passages from the Bible and other great works of literature. Science was largely the hands on study of nature, and history was brought out in the form of "living books." Books that told the story, rather than just the facts. 

A Charlotte Mason education respects the child's innate desire to explore and learn what fascinates and interests them. As a result, it is an ideal education for the special needs student.

We do not do 100% Charlotte Mason based education, but we do a lot. I have found Mr. B does very well if we mix methods depending on the subject. We do not subscribe to one method 100%, rather we reserve the right to change it up when needed. There are time I do have him do a traditional spelling test, but most often I have him copying things I have written in order to learn. I remember from my college days, we tend to write like the works we read. I had a class called "Sociology of Science and Technology." In this class we had 8 texts to read and summarize over the course of 15 weeks. The way the professor had arranged this was brilliant for the 15 students in the class. Of course that plan fell apart when all but 4 of use dropped the class in the first week realizing it was going to be a VERY hard class. So instead, we would each read 2-6 chapters each week, write a summary paper on what we had read, and then present-or teach-the class about the part we had read so that no one had to read the entire book at any time. Some of these books were quite "academic," meaning we had to break out the thesaurus and dictionaries to even understand what we were reading. It was horrible, but we survived. The professor commented that each of us had a different writing style with each book we summarized. Our styles took on that which we were reading. Charlotte Mason Method has a "No Twaddle" rule. This means the method only prefers great works of literature such as Shakespeare, Newbury Award winners, etc. This is where I veer off. I allow Mr. B to read whatever he wants to read, but I make sure he has a good variety, including quality works, to emulate while learning composition. 

I do go with almost 100% Charlotte Mason when it comes to History and Science. I believe boring will not bring results. Hands on, living books, and a true interest is the heart of retention. When we were learning about Columbus, we read all sorts of living books, watched documentaries, and even visited replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria! THAT is a lesson that as truly stuck with him all these years later. 

Science is another. I follow his lead, and we do a lot of nature studies and exploring the world around us. Science kits, and living books abound in our home. And we may even have a nature journal or 20 lying around. While we do not use a 100% CM inspired approach, I feel we have the best parts covered in our homeschool! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Loss of a friend....

Loss is never easy, and it's even harder when it is a partner. A dear friend of mine lost her husband last night. He was her first, and only boyfriend. They spent 25 years together, building a loving family, and suddenly-with no warning at all-he's now gone. I can't even begin to imagine the heartache she's feeling. Please keep them in your prayers.