Bessie’s Pillow ~ Review

I remember when I was growing up, being told that the one thing that made this country so great, was the variety of people who were here. Immigrants from far and wide came to this country wanting a better life. Our land was filled with people who had drive and desire to live in a place where they could be free. My grandparents were immigrants; I wish I could remember the stories that were told of life before they came here, and after. There is so much we can learn from those who came before. For that reason I have come to live historical non-fiction like Bessie’s Pillow published by Strong Learning.Inc.


Bessie’s Pillow – A Young Immigrant’s Journey (based on a true story) is written by Linda Press Silbery, who is Bessie’s granddaughter.  Throughout the book are actual photos from family albums, bringing to life the story that is told.

The story begins in 1906 in Vilna, Lithuania as Boshka (Bessie) travels to escape persecution.  Travel with her to Hamburg, then across the seas as she learns the English language, makes new friends, and begins a great adventure. Experience and read actual historical details about life as a Jewish, Russian, Orthodox girl traveling to a new life. Her challenges and struggles, love, courageousness and kindness will move you and draw you in to this story making Bessie a dear friend and companion.


Listen to Linda speak about and share beautiful photographs, bringing to life even more, this story. Explore Bessie’s Family Album and childhood in a Photo Gallery sharing moments from her life in Lithuania, New York, New Rochelle.

Historically, 1906 to 1936 was a time of great change and growth in America. Experience and explore a variety of interactive learning regarding:

  • Famous People
  • Food and Recipes
  • Radio
  • Movies
  • Music & Dancing
  • News
  • Presidents
  • Immigration (European specifically)
  • Housework
  • Health

What a fun way to explore and experience American the same way Bessie did!

You can even explore the stories of others who tell of their experience immigrating.

There is also a Teacher’s Guide to help guide and encourage use of this story to teach language arts and social studies. There are some great discussion questions and activities encouraging our own children to explore their own family histories, to explore the various situations and determine what they would do and why. There are character studies, research topics given, even a timeline of American history (download a full size one) and there are a ton of recommended reading materials too!

I have thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book and I definitely recommend this as one every one should read. While I read this aloud to my children, there were times and parts, which I skipped over due to the age of my children. This is a very honest and realistic book, portraying the good and the bad of the immigration experience so some situations can be difficult and sensitive for children to hear. However even with those moments and sometimes uncomfortable details within the pages of this book, it is all done in a way that makes it necessary but also understandable (sad too!).  So much of this book and the materials that are provided along with it, can be a great lesson to both ourselves and our children. Certainly this was a story that really gave my children and I a new perspective and a renewed appreciation for what we have and where we are.


Twitter:  @BessiesPillow



Art is such a important piece in my children’s education.  They just love to draw and paint; my oldest son has even begun to sculpt a bit. Just simple clay but how I love to see him work. He has always wanted to take classes, formal art training, something to really advance and strengthen his skills. But around here there isn’t much and what there is we just cannot manage right now. Then we were introduced to Sharon Hofer and her amazing online program, Creating A Masterpiece. This is just like a formal art course but online; she provides easy instruction in a variety of media, and it is suitable of for children of any age who just want to create their own masterpieces. We received the Monthly Plan for review and wait until you some of the masterpieces that have been created since we began!


This program offers such an amazing variety of media forms:

  • Soft Pastels
  • Oil Pastels
  • Sculpture
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
  • Block Printing
  • Ink
  • Silk Dyeing
  • Pencil
  • Bombay Ink
  • Conte’ Crayon
  • Portraiture
  • Colored Pencil
  • Copper Tooling
  • Charcoal
  • Glass Mosaic
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Gouache
  • Balsa Carving
  • Wood Burning

There is a Beginner level, as well as additional levels 1-5; there is also an Art in History level which I thought was really neat!  You don’t have to complete one level at a time; my children bounced about on this one. We did some projects in Projects range within these from scenic drawing, to portraits, and landscapes – without a doubt there is an amazing variety to choose from! You can choose projects based on difficulty or you could find projects based on the medium being used. I think some days, if I allowed it my oldest son could spend the entire day just working on all the different projects here!

My oldest son decided he was going to sculpt a turtle the moment he saw this lesson. I wasn’t sure about this but as he watched and worked with her instruction, it was amazing how the simple shapes they began with became a turtle! There were four video lessons for this one which also included helpful hints and highlights from each lesson too. It was quite impressive how something that looked so complex was so easily broken down into simple, manageable steps.  Her teaching style really ensures that our children can complete the project (for younger kids maybe will need a bit of assistance but it is definitely possible for them to create!).

Another lesson that my younger children really enjoyed was the sunflower. This lesson was meant to be done in pencil but my littler ones really enjoyed drawing and then painting, their sunflowers. There were six lessons included for this project which was a bit much for my younger ones but they still persevered to the end and had their very own sunflowers to proudly show off.

All three of my children really enjoyed a Lesson in Soft Pastel; pastels are definitely one of our favorite mediums to work with right now. So together, my oldest and his younger siblings sat and worked hard at this lovely landscape. Only three lessons this was one that each of my children really enjoyed.

I have to show off a bit here because my oldest son worked really hard on this one. He knows how much I Just love horses and so after he and I had an especially difficult day, I found him (frustrated but diligently at work) on a white stallion. This is one of the level 5 projects and is very involved. Only four lessons but this one requires quite a bit of slow work, steady hand and patience.

My oldest son (11) really appreciated her teaching style and how he felt like throughout the video she was “like a friend” with her camaraderie and banter. As she talked it kept him relaxed and at ease; he liked that he could just sketch or paint while she talked and how she wasn’t always “barking” instructions but encouraging in her words and her tone with each step in these projects.

My younger son (7) never wants to draw; art has always been something he does in a hurry so he can do something of his own choosing. But now he has his own drawing book and I can find him sketching at the breakfast table or in bed before he goes to sleep. This has really awoke a creative spirit in him that was not there before!

And my daughter (5) has just really been encouraged by this too! Even as young as she is, she has followed along with some of the simpler lessons and really enjoyed them! She loves drawing flowers and butterflies. Watercolors and pastels are her favorites; as she has completed projects alongside her brothers she has gained a greater understanding and confidence in her own abilities.

I love how each lesson is set up for our children to have success! Supply lists are provided for each project (with a link to purchase materials through Dick Blick – we got ours at our local craft store), downloads and lesson highlights and tips. We really thoroughly enjoyed this program (we still are actually!) and I highly recommend it if you have children who have a desire to learn and create. This has inspired every one of my children to see things in a different way and to try to capture some of what they see in a creative way, to share with others.


Connect to Create: Creating a Masterpiece


Joy is Found

I have been searching quite a bit as of late. Searching for answers; seeking a deeper understanding. Not just of the Word but of my purpose, His plan. There have been days full of feelings of trouble, and anxiety. Moments where I have felt so far removed from the Lord. Certainly this dreary weather, a lack of sunshine and warmth, it does wear on a soul. Especially is we are not keeping our eyes fixed on what they ought to be fixed on. We feel restless (okay, I do anyway) and begin to wander here and there, perhaps looking for a bit of something other than the Lord. And then…




There is only one place we can truly find joy and peace. There is only one way to truly ever be satisfied. When we are searching elsewhere we are bound to feel depressed, anxious, hopeless….When we struggle with our children, perhaps our routine grows old, we have financial battles, things around the house build up – It seems we never have enough of what we need to do all that “must” be done.


Yet “In His presence is fullness of joy.”


If we can just step back from it all; take a break from worrying; when we place our burdens at His feet, when we focus on those things we can be thankful for instead of those things that drain and weary us, we can declare with power, that the Lord is our strength. Because thankfulness and joy are close friends. You cannot have one without the other.



Let the joy of the Lord fill you, let it overflow with you. Allow it to bring light into those dark places; discouragement and anxiety, worry and fear these must flee when we spend time in His presence. When we worship and praise the only One who matters.



I know that I have a goodly heritage; the Lord gives counsel to me. I set Him before and I shall not be moved but shall have a heart that is glad and flesh that rests in hope. He will not leave me nor forsake me. How I love the Lord and the path of life He sets before me.




It is at His right hand there are truly pleasures. Forever more.



Readers in Residence Sleuth (Volume 1) Review

Who doesn’t love Apologia Educational Ministries? We are always excited when we hear that they have something new! Since language arts is a subject that is dear to my heart (and not so dear to my older son’s yet) I was thrilled to learn that Reader’s In Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth), the newest edition to Apologia’s language arts program, was something we were going to get to use and review. This set includes the All in One Student Text & Workbook as well as the Answer Key book.





When it comes to Apologia’s materials I have never been disappointed. And I want to say right away that when it comes to Readers in Residence, yet again they give so much more than you could imagine. When this arrived I was stunned! A bit overwhelmed too, I admit it. But as I looked through the 500+ pages that make up this amazing language arts program, I was so giddy! I love that this is a reading comprehension program (did I mention how much my oldest does not enjoy reading? *gasp*).  This particular program is recommended for grades 4 and up; this can also be used for those who have more difficulty with reading comprehension or even a reluctant/struggling reader.


  Debra Bell writes that, “Understanding how a musician composes, how an artist paints, or even how a coach outwits an opponent increases the pleasure we derive fro experiencing music, art, or an athletic contest. A close analysis of an author’s craftsmanship in a few select books deepens a child’s appreciation and enjoyment of books read…and whets an appetite for more.”


While this may seem a bit overwhelming to some of us mommas, rest assured that this program comes with a suggested daily schedule to help ease any tension or fear we may have in teaching with this program. Only 32 weeks, for four days a week, this really is so easy to do. She also offers ideas for hosting a book club throughout the year. What can be more fun for our kids than the chance to get together and talk about the books we are enjoying with friends? I know my favorite friends are the ones who read “with” me!


There are six books to read in all; three are specific titles: Sarah, Plain and TallBecause of Winn-Dixie and Charlotte’s Web. 




Students are also asked to read three additional titles of their choice.  One is to be historical fiction, another an animal fantasy and the last one is completely their own choosing.



I think it wonderful that in the very beginning there is discussion as to Why Read? Since my oldest isn’t much of a reader, I think he appreciated seeing that there was more to reading books than just reading a book. For him too see and read (from an authority other than mom) how you expand your world and develop empathy towards others; the power of a book to join you to a community and help you to better understand who you are. These are great things and indeed when we read, we truly do learn that we are not alone. 🙂




From the very beginning this book is filled with fun activities to help encourage our children to really get involved in this! Putting together a book club? She offers tips on how to make a great book commercial; theme ideas for book club meetings. How can we not be excited about reading and sharing our favorite books with others?


Ever since my son met this girl last year at junior youth camp, his brother and sister have been singing and teasing about the ay they will get married. So it was funny to read about Sarah, Plain and Tall was a very fitting story for learning about marriage and history.  My oldest son was fascinated, maybe horrified even, that someone would marry another “via mail”.


 One of my son’s favorite things was creating his own character from a historical time period showing all he learned about character in the unit of study. He also had to create a character map to organize all of the information about his character. What I liked most, as a momma, is that my son who is quick to give up when the going gets tough, saw through this story and others (as well as his own characters and story) the value of those hard things and the various ways we can learn and grow in our trials. Certainly there is great value in our children “seeing” in this way how it is possible to rise up and be blessed in those times that may seem impossible. With God all things are possible.


As we work through each unit within this program we learn and explore:  character development, plot development, and setting. There are various sections along the way to encourage deeper understanding like: Aha! or  Sowing the Seeds and Word Sleuth. These help us to connect events in a story with greater Biblical truths; they build up our vocabulary encouraging the use of words in context practicing decoding those strange words. Then there are those comprehension questions which help ensure that we got it. Are we connecting the dots as we read? Reading between the lines can be tough for even us mommas so it is a real treat to see the how of this particular strategy laid out for our kids in just a few simple steps!



In this family, since I love to read, it is important to me to cultivate that love somehow, in each of my children. I strive to read aloud in our home daily and when I am unable to do so we enjoy audio books and as much as possible, older siblings reading to the younger ones. There is nothing better than when we read together and then have discussions about those very books we read. Seeing my children acting out different stories; listening to them retelling some of those stories to others, this is a powerful and beautiful thing. And anything that can help us to go deeper, understand and love a story and its characters just a bit more, is a needful thing, to me.




Instagram:   @apologiaworld
Twitter:   @apologiaworld


When It’s a Battlefield

Do you have a rebellious child?

Do you ever hear:

” I won’t do it.”

” You can’t make me”

” I hate learning.”


5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Anger. Rebellion. Reluctance.


There are probably a couple good days mixed in but how tiring it can be trying to inspire a strong-willed child.


Certainly it doesn’t help when both mom and child equally determined to “win.”


What can we do to inspire our little rebels? Grab a nice cup of coffee or tea and come join me as we talked about what we can do with our little rebels.



Small isn’t Always Small

I have been in a place of discontentment lately. Wishing for greater things; being frustrated with what I see as “less”.




It’s about humility. Having a heart that is eager and willing to serve others.


When we are faithful we remember that those small acts done in obedience to God, often have the greatest effects. Even when we cannot see the results ourselves.


His word will not return void. We need to remember and hold on to that great truth!


Instead of leaning on and trusting God in this season of my life, I have murmured and complained.  Seeing “burdens” instead of blessings.


I recognize, in this trial I am in, that I need to remember how great “small” really is when it comes to the Lord and His kingdom.




What is our motivation? In all things we do and seek to do, are we seeking glory for our self or for God? Sometimes we need to let go of that “great” thing we see, and reach for that “little” thing the Lord has set before us.





As I read this morning, I was reminded that sometimes we feel alone. We feel like we aren’t doing anything, we aren’t doing enough, for His kingdom. Abraham was called out, ALONE. Jonah went out, ALONE. Most of the great saints, they walked alone. We aren’t meant to always be alone but we do need know how, and to have faith enough, to stand alone sometimes.




Even when it seems no good. Even when we are restless within ourselves. All those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we make; all those clothes we fold day and night. They seem meaningless and trivial to us, but to God, we are doing this to serve and grow others for eternity. IF we are doing these things with love and with a desire to serve.



Let us love what we are doing. No matter what it may be let us simply take joy in the opportunity God has given us to serve another,

Learning to Love

I woke up this morning and the first thing I read (God sure knows what we need all the time) was this:


Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done. – Goethe



In this season I am in right now, where I am super tired and achy, I think we have been sick with something off and on for a couple weeks now too, I am the first to admit that loving is not my strong suit. Too many days where I want to just stay under the blankets; hidden away from everyone and everything,



As I look around at ours all house thats so full of people and things… I realize that my discomfort and discontent is about so much more than what it seems. As I look over and plan how to reorganize our home, I have to admit that I also need to reorganize some things within my self. My attitude, my mind and my heart. These cannot be overlooked.




Are we not told we ought to learn to be content with all things, in all seasons? We can only do this when we are wisely thinking on those things with are (as the Word of God tells us: pure, true, honest, just, lovely, of good report.  We are reminded, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ❤



The truth is that what we believe and what we think has a great effect on us. It is said that faith without works is dead, for this very reason. If we have faith it will cause us to take action. We will do something that others see. Whether for good or for evil …. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.




If I am completely transparent right now, my heart is not in the best of health. I have allowed myself for a long time to think on things that are better left to rest. I have allowed my mind to wander; instead of focusing on the things which are before me, things which God has so blessed me with even as I am so undeserving, I have instead allowed myself to ponder “a better way.”



As if I am somehow wiser than the Lord God himself; if I (we) truly want to see contentment and great gain, we must take captive our thoughts. We need to love what is before us and love those things that must be done. Let us always remember that with God in us, we can do al things. And it all begins with our attitude and what we think.



And as I explore and seek to simplify my home, my family and my self, I see the great value that comes from honesty; as I have read recently in No More Faking Fine sometimes we need to lament—our hurt needs a voice, we need to acknowledge that frustration, and disappointment which we have held within while we “fake fine”.




And it is such a blessing to remember, when we feel so very far from God (perhaps for yet another season in our life) He is always there and always ready to welcome us back into His fold. There is never a thing we can do that separates us from Him when we are truly willing and eager to learn of Him, to take up our cross. Repentance and the new north in Christ, these are so powerful. Sometimes I think we forget; inboxed dark seasons we feel so removed from the Lord and so sure that He is not with us. But glory to God He is always near. We need only cal on Him and He will answer.



Blogging the Alphabet ~~ Keeping On




This afternoon as I watched my children riding their bikes, blowing bubbles and playing with bats and balls out front, I felt a bit of the heaviness lift that I have been feeling for quite some time now.


Perhaps its the cold, and the wet – a lack of sun and fresh air can really effect us can’t it – that has caused me to feel so down lately.


It isn’t easy to be a momma, its not easy to be a home educator – both require so much of us. All the time. Every moment. Every day.


When we are feeling down and out, when we don’t have family and friend nearby to lean on, it can be tough to weather the storms.


I saw this image, this prayer today, and it seemed to be so timely for me. Because this is the time that we need to accept that we are weak; we need to seek Him, sit at His feet, so that He will be strong when we are not.




My younger son has been a struggling reader for some time now. He loves to read; he just has a hard time when these letters make so many different sounds and he isn’t one who appreciates things that aren’t black or white. But he brought me my Bible this afternoon and asked me to read a passage to him, one I had written on the inside cover of my Geneva Bible. It reads:


“When our desires cooperate with evil influences a stronghold is set up in our mind; lies take the mind captive and then the body follows suit. A Gospel informed mind easily takes renegade thoughts captive, to the obedience of Christ.” 



How I needed to read this today. What a reminder that we need to be careful what we allow to enter our mind, and then, what we allow to remain. As I struggle with being tired and lonely, wishing for another house, another state… I have allowed all these thoughts to take me captive.



Some days it really is a struggle to get out of bed, to go through those lessons: math, reading and writing, history, french.  I find myself telling my kids they need to find something that they love and learn all they can about it. Yet those things that I love so dearly, I just have no desire or energy, to search them out myself. Getting out to go hiking, or visit the museum, trips to the library are things I admit, I kind of dread lately. Let me just curl up at home, with some tea and a book (even though I read a page maybe two before I quit).



We all go through seasons in our life where we are challenged, where we are tested. I remind myself of this on those days when I am cranky and weary and want to just run away and hide. Or quit. I admit, I have days where I just want to quit. And then I read this amazing poem, called Do the Next Thing, and it really helps me to remember that this won’t last forever.



And some days, when I am feeling overwhelmed and anxious with all that is before me, I have to just take a deep breathe and force myself to move my feet. Step, one foot at a time, forward. I cannot go back. I have to just move forward. Get outside on my swing with a cup of tea; read a couple pages in a book, turn on that worship music and praise God!



I have been reading this book called, Leading on Empty. Meant for pastors and leaders in the ministry, I find myself in need of the wisdom within these pages. Mother. Home Educator. This is my ministry and when I am tired…When I am running on empty (not even fumes to move me forward) I need something more.  And I need it now. Anyway, as I was saying, I read the other day:


“We won’t be held accountable for how much we have done, but for how much we have done with what He has asked us to do.” 



It’s time to rethink just what I am doing. The author goes on to say:

“About 5% of what I do, only I can do. This is the most important 5% for me. I cannot delegate these initiatives to anyone else; I cannot hire another to take my place in any of these activities because they require that I be there. This 5% will determine the validity of the other 95%.  And this is what I need to discover and make the epicenter of my life.” 



So now I am pondering what exactly is my 5% ?



  •  I am a daughter of Christ so maintaining my relationship with Him is above all else. Prayer, fasting, worship. The joy of the Lord is our strength right?
  •  I am a wife; I cannot neglect y marriage. My husband is God’s gift to me. I am his help meet. I need to be such.
  • I am a mother to four wonderful, precious children. Two very active and busy boys, one who is really struggling with his identity and place in life right now. And two sweet girls who sing and dance and are so eager to be loved. These children need a momma who is present, intentional and sensitive to the presence and spirit of God. Because I cannot be the momma they need if I am not being led by Him.
  • I am part of a family; we need to learn and pray together. We need to worship together. Each one needs to see the others serving and loving. Do others see Jesus in us? We need to not just enjoy our time together but also be authentic and true.
  • I am the church. My body is the temple of the living God. Healthy mind and body – I need to eat well, get out and about. Exercise body, mind and spirit.



Thomas Kempis wrote, “A good, devout person first arranges inwardly the things to be done outwardly…Who has a fiercer struggle than the person who strives to master himself. And this must be our occupation; to strive to master ourselves and daily to grow stronger and advance for good.” 



How I need to go back and reestablish those values. To revisit those priorities that are the anchors of my life. These things must be immoveable, unquestionable. It is said that balance begins at the very core of our being. I have read that a healthy doctrine makes a healthy church. The same can be said for a family, if I am healthy in body and mind and spirit, so shall the family be. When I lose focus, when I take my eyes off of the blessings before me, it is then that suffering begins. And it isn’t about me at all. It is about those God has placed in my family that I am to care for. I cannot be a defender of the home, I cannot keep our home a place of refuge and peace, when I can barely find a peace within myself.



Yet it is also in these times that we are brought low, that we see God enable us to do what we, on our own, cannot. God makes us to be sufficient in every situation, for Him. So long as we are willing to keep on … to press forward…. There is always promise in the pain.




CompuScholar, Inc. ~ Review

I am not very tech savvy. My oldest son however is very interested in coding, web design, java and a host of other things that make no s sense to me at all. So I was thrilled to meet CompuScholar, Inc. which teaches students computer programming and web design using hands-on, internet-based programs.  There is even a Digital Savvy course, designed to teach students about computer basics and web safety. My son had the opportunity to review the Web Design course. And because I have really been wanting to design a website myself one day, I am eager to give this one a whirl for myself.  My oldest son says that if this program can help me understand something, its a miracle! haha



My oldest son nothing ago began to record videos and has his own (private) YouTube channel where he showcases a variety of topics from Bible study to magic tricks, Chinese and French.  Needless to say this and a couple free coding programs he has taken part in this past summer got him really interested in web site design.  I admit too, I am eager to see him develop this skill so perhaps he can teach his momma a thing or two – maybe even build me a little website one day. 🙂



As much as I dislike technology and really strive to minimize my kids screen time on a daily basis, I also understand that there is so much that can be gained from learning and using technology in the “right” way. We have really been struggling to find something that works, to relight that love of learning in our oldest son, so much of what he has been doing lately has been focused mostly on where his own interests lie. It’s a struggle for this momma who is a bit of a control freak, but I am hopeful that allowing him time to follow his own interests will inspire him in future learning.



This course is amazing! The KidCoder Web Design course teaches students everything they need to know from the very basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript all the way through to them creating their very own web page!


  • Website tools and Languages
  • Text Styles
  • Javascript & jQuery
  • Hyperlinks
  • Navigation Bars
  • Embedded Audio & Video
  • CSS effects, spacing, positioning
  • Editing Images and Graphics



Each lesson starts out with a teaching video, text lesson  (we appreciate being able to print the pdf’s to read offline) and then a quiz to reinforce what was just learned. Within these lessons there are also activities to complete; these are all a part of building a website.  One step at a time. The exams are all self graded and the students can review their answers to see the correct answer as needed which I really like. They can also retake the quiz if need be (quizzes can be attempted three times).



This program is meant to be used as a 36 week course; you can see more details as well as pricing, a course syllabus, state standards  and system requirements for the Web Design course.  One really nice thing about this course is that instruction is given within the lessons for both Windows and Apple. Since we have both, it’s nice to know how to do this one either system.  By the end of this course, two websites will have been created, one if CSS and the other in HTML. If you are anything like me you will be amazed as you watch what seems like nothing, turn into something truly amazing!




I have to mention too, the area they have for the Teacher”. This is a wonderful resource for mommas like me who don’t understand what is being taught, who worry that our kids aren’t getting anything out of it, for adding siblings to a course and getting help if need be. I love this area because I can see exactly what is being worked on. I can also download and see videos that help me to get a basic overview of exactly what is being learned in each lesson. This is a great help to me since I don’t really have the time in this season, to sit and do every lesson with my oldest son and he often works quickly, sometimes doing multiple lessons in a week, so that I need a way to “catch up:”.





My oldest son said this was lots of fun and a whole lot easier than other things he had found and used (and he has googled and attempted a ton of different things relating to web design and coding). He had a great time making his website (somehow he deleted it so we are starting over now!). When I asked him what he liked best he told me that even though there were lots of things that he was really confused about  the videos and lessons in this course really broke things down so it was super easy to understand even the really complicated stuff. He is still working through this one and plans to really work hard on designing his website with this program but slower so that he doesn’t accidentally undo anything this time. If only all of the things we are learning could be this fun and inspiring.





Maybe you aren’t interested in Web Design? That’s okay, they offer classes for Java Programming and Digital Savvy too. Whatever your needs are when it comes to technology, this one is definitely a winner!!




Homeschool Programming
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Twitter –   @hsprogramming

CompuScholar, Inc   @compuscholar


Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer ~ Review

I didn’t grow up “in” the faith. I knew very few folks who called themselves Christians. But from a very young age I was always taught the value of learning. About faiths and cultures and traditions. And for all of my life I have always sought to seek out truth. When I encountered Jesus for myself about 5+ years ago, I was amazed. I was in awe. And I continue to be. Because there is always something new to learn (another layer of the onion if you will) as long as we continue to seek after Him. As often as I can, I strive to read material that can help me to love His story more. Such was the case with Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer from Peggy Consolver – Author.





Who doesn’t love a good story? Especially when it comes to stories that help us to understand and know the Lord more. Peggy Consolver has such a love for stories; teaching women’s Bible studies, Sunday school and her own children, she does something she loves and this love shows!



I admit to being rather jealous as I read about her adventures – eighteen days with Associates for Biblical Research in Israel.  How exciting to have the chance to see those places where the stories we read in the Bible actually occurred. And what a great inspiration this was, so much so that it brought us this very book. If you have any doubt that the Word of God is alive and active, this story truly brings it all to life as you get to know the Gibeonites (Joshua 9 &10) as told by a potter’s family and a shepherd boy.




As if the book itself isn’t enough of an adventure, she has also put together a fables study guide to accompany this book!  Digging Deeper Into HIStory has 13 units and includes lots of links to research, maps and YouTube videos meant to help us understand and experience a bit more personally, the Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer. My boys especially (being Boy Scouts) loved all of the material but their favorite parts, to name a few, were:


  • Alpha Centauri: The Closest Star System to Our Sun
  • Israeli Mammals
  • Honey: Its Medicinal Property and Antibacterial Activity
  • Introduction to Bow Making
  • The Jewish Virtual Library: Jericho
  • How to Use a Sling
  • Weapons Universe: Bronze Age Weapons


There is quite a bit more! Regardless, this has inspired and encouraged quite a few projects in the very near future. I think my boys will be making bows and slings shortly! You really can enjoy history as you learn of and follow Keshub. What adventures we enjoyed being a [party to – fighting off a bear, pottery making, acting as a spy and so much more along the Jordan Valley. Be sure to read this one right alongside the actual Bible story (it makes it so much more enjoyable when you see how accurate and each the details are).  Pull out those maps and look closer at the area this all takes place in. And when you get a big confused with the names and details, there is a wonderfully handy list to help you keep them all straight in the book. What a great way to read and enjoy the Bible, a bit of archeology, and history.  Especially for my oldest son, what a friend he has now in Keshub (being so close in age really made him even more interested in this story). This is definitely one for the library; so many unique topics all rolled into one 🙂





This is a truly amazing story full of historical details that rally spark the imagination! What fun it was for all of us as we read aloud together; learning about the daily life of those who lived and worked so long ago. Shepherds and potters, family joys and challenges. There were many moments too when my children were excited to see the connection for themselves between the story being told and the Bible itself. Always a joy for one to connect to the other. Little things like that make it such an adventure! I look forward to reading this one again with my kids when they are older. And in case you don’t know…the Star Namer? That is the name for the God who created those stars; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.





The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set (American History): Crew Review

I have always loved history. What a difference it can make, not just for us as individuals either, when we know and understand history. Since my oldest son has been really digging into American history for himself as of late, I was quite eager to use  The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set from H.A. Guerber and 200 Questions About American History Set by Memoria Press with him. Since we have used Memoria Press in the past and had such a wonderful experience with them, we were all pretty excited when this one arrived too!





We started with this one almost immediately when it arrived; I was thrilled to see the list of recommended texts and a weekly schedule too! I was giddy too, with all of the recommended resources provided in the back of the teacher’s guide. They even include teacher guidelines with lovely reminders like, “make sure to take time to stop and discuss interesting events or people.”  🙂



The schedule which they provide allows for 34 weeks of study; because my oldest son is a very reluctant reader and gets easily distracted I was all for a program that requires the student to do the reading.  

Since we try to enjoy daily time reading aloud, it was extra encouragement (and a great example to the littles) to have their big brother reading to the family. It was also very encouraging that each chapter was only a page or two at most. Not so intimidating to my son. 

Each week typically included about seven chapters of reading and a number of drill questions. These could be quotes, presidents, or timeline activities. There are also regular reviews and tests to be completed as you progress. A great way to encourage and refresh their minds (and ours too!).



The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set includes a nice sized textbook, a teachers book, and a student workbook. My oldest son really liked how the workbook wasn’t really a workbook at all. We commonly referred to it as a commonplace book specifically for history. Sure, there were some drill questions, but there was also an American history timeline to be completed, notable quotes (Who said it?), The Star Spangled Banner and so much more! What variety of activities too to inspire a love of history in our children: comprehension questions, map work, writing prompts, even research assignments. It’s a wonderful little resource for now and future!




We especially appreciated the 200 Questions About American History Set; meant to be a supplement this was a huge help for my oldest son in learning and remembering key details in history. The flashcards consist of drill questions, timeline dates, 44 U.S. Presidents, and notable quotes. These are also in the student workbook provided (Ideally students are memorizing all of these details as they go along).  I don’t know about your children, but for mine, these cards are a real blessing! Perhaps its how small they are, they fit into their hands just right. But I can find my boys going through the flashcards now and then; what a treat hearing my oldest son tell the stories to his younger siblings. For this one we did need to also have The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer (it also frequently referenced a book entitled, Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework by Kate Kelly and Anne Zeman).


These are both recommended for grades 5-8; the two sets are very complimentary of each other.  I was so impressed with all of the history that is covered. This can easily be a “main” history study; no need to supplement this material although now and then we did go looking for a video or further details on a specific lesson (we don’t mind following rabbit trails as we come upon them!). I just cannot say enough how amazing this is and how thankful we are for all of these good materials!


Starting from the very beginning, we learn about the Northmen, Prince Henry, Famous Sea Fights, A Wonderful Invention… All the way to the Spanish-American War. And there is so much more in between. It’s an excellent resource with lots of amazing images throughout the pages too that bring to life some of these stories and famous men and women. There is so much to learn; more than I remember learning when I was in school. So I certainly appreciate being able to learn right alongside my children, about some of those famous men and women who fought for this country. Even more fun was learning so many of those famous quotes and not just who sad them but the occasion behind them being said.



There is nothing better than a textbook that isn’t a textbook. One that our children look forward to reading that brings these historical tales to life. I love how the flashcards and the workbooks were interchangeable. You could use one or the other; you could use both. We were also quite impressed with both how in-depth this was, while at the same time, how easy it is to manage. My oldest really struggles with staying focused so it was refreshing for him to be able to maintain his attention for each lesson in this program. The lessons are perfectly balanced; they are short enough to keep children on task and detailed enough to give you an understanding of the topic being taught. We considered this to be such a blessing to our family and will certainly be using this again. We were looking for a way to introduce American history in our home, were were ever pleased with how much more there was to learn with this amazingly thorough program.



First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}See lots more good stuff from Memoria Press: 



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