Go Through ..

I have been learning.

Being alone with Jesus teaches me so much.

I have messed up too.

Can I admit that I swore a bit?

In what is a continual battle with my oldest, I lost it. Really lost it.

And then someone said, “I know how you feel. Remember that God is for you and he wants you to be blessed.”

I think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As I struggle with my own emotions; as I try to understand why when I do it all the way I should things just keep falling apart….

(I see the little blessings through all of this, I really do… )

The struggle is so real… And when we’re in the midst of the struggle, you cannot tell us that you understand. You cannot tell us that you know what we are going through.

When anxiety or depression or doubt starts to kick in, do not quote scripture at me.

I know what the Bible says. I believe it with all of my heart. But you do not know what I am going through and you cannot feel the things I feel.

Why do we insist on telling people these things?

I remember being a social worker in the inner city have a big city and the first thing that they taught us was that we should never tell someone that we understand.

The same is true for those of us who are walking with Jesus. Only he can begin to understand.

when we finally have to get it all out and scream and shout, maybe we throw some things, maybe if I say some of those words that Christians “don’t” say… The solution is never to tell us what we already know.

David was beaten down so many times. So many times he acted like anything but the man after God’s own heart. He made bad decisions ..he fell away. He ran and hid.

Yet even in these moments,he knew God was his hope and his strength. He knew.

Sometimes we just have to work it through.

Without being corrected or blamed or told that if we really believed we wouldn’t feel as we do.

God is for us. Who can be against us?

There are many who are against us. We need to recognize who and what is good for our soul and then go there and go deep.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Literature Guides {Memoria Press Review}

We have always been big fans of Memoria Press and as my girls get older and become more and more involved in books, I always appreciate materials that can help all of us to dig a bit deeper and enjoy these stories even more. There are so many amazing books out there, it can be hard to decide which ones to enjoy first. Having the opportunity to review the Second Grade Literature Guide Set can make things a bit easier, at least. My younger kids took part in the local library’s summer reading program ad during the year there are others we try to participate in as we are able. This though, what a great way to bring life into the stories we are reading together! This set did not include the books themselves but both student and teacher guides for the five novels included in this set.

The stories included in this set include:

Aren’t these great books for young readers? I have to admit, we have read most of these already once or twice but that doesn’t mean that these stories weren’t even more exciting now that we had these literature guides to walk through!

I really like how, in the introduction, the point is made, that preparation is critical to success.

How often do we open the book and just expect reading to happen? In our enthusiasm perhaps, we may forget that it is good to prepare (this is vital to everything right?).

These literature guides include pre-reading activities as well as post-reading activities. Pre-reading exercises cover spelling and pronunciation of common words as well as new or difficult words in the material we are reading. Post-Reading activities include comprehension questions, phonics activities and also review of words.

Since Little House in the Big Woods happened to be one of the books we are currently reading, we started with this one. My plan was to use this with my younger daughter (she is seven) but can I say, my kids, younger and older, really got into this. I had to remind them fairly often that this was meant for their sister.

This really brought about greater attention to read aloud time, and lots of fabulous discussion between everyone (which is nice to see since its been a struggle to get them interacting in a way that isn’t troublesome as of late). I like to think that we all learned from each other as we slowly worked through this.

While in some ways this is fairly intense, it is also very clearly laid out so it isn’t overwhelming. Each day we begin by studying the new words, pronunciation and spelling. There are also vocabulary words to write meanings of (sometimes it is a phrase). There are also comprehension questions which we mostly did verbally. There are also assessments to be completed at the end of each student guide. My daughter actually completed a couple early on, which really helped with her confidence.

While each guide is meant to last for 6 to 7 weeks, for us we went much slower. We also did more of this verbally to help my daughter grow her confidence and not feel as much anxiety since reading and writing are still somewhat of a struggle for her. This was however a wonderful way to introduce her to some great literature and we absolutely took advantage of all the activities that we found in the student guide as we went along.

I love the variety of activities that are within these books. I do believe for readers and writers who are struggling this can be a wonderful way to inspire and encourage them. With all the hands on activities, it also helps to bring these books to life, making them real. What a wonderful way to help out kids develop a love of learning. I don’t think we can go wrong when we use materials from Memorial Press either since they use nothing but the best of books!

There are a variety of sets for every grade; click the image below and read review s of materials other Crew members used with their kids.

First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

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What about Learning?

I recently got my hands on some Thomas Jefferson Education conference materials. I know that the time is coming when we really do need to get down to some serious work but I also know that there has to be a better way.

My oldest son spent most of his summer working as an assistant counselor at our local zoo. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best fit for him. He took it pretty hard but you did move on to some other opportunities they had for him. And he also had the chance to do some work at a local farm.

He is my very reluctant learner. Books and worksheets just don’t work for him. He openly tells me that he hates school (I did too and that’s why we are home learners) and he reminds me often that he doesn’t see a point to any of this stuff but I tell him he should be studying.

Yet he loves to work. Even when he had a job that didn’t fit so well, he always showed up and did what he could. I see so much potential and so much desire. It reminds me that the work we do needs to have a purpose. Not to someone else but to us. We need things to be personal.

My younger three are easy to work with. They love reading with or without me and they are always willing to do what needs to be done. My younger son is a builder and a thinker so he really likes tinkering. that said we also use lots of videos to help him get ideas for what to build or what he can explore by taking things apart.

As for my girls, both are so young but right now we just enjoy reading and writing. They are helpful around the house caring for our pets and making lots of muffins. They are good friends and they play and dance and sing together.

I spoke with a woman this morning about the possibility of my son coming out to her horse farm twice a week to help keep the place up. Only twice a week it would be an opportunity to learn and grow, especially in character. There is so much more to an education then what we are told we ought to know.

I myself was recently given the opportunity to meet with a group of families who are new to unschooling. While I do not consider myself an expert, I was certainly excited to come and share what our experience has been so far. And this has led me to voraciously reading and considering all the more what we shall do.

I’m excited to see what this year will hold for us. I am sure that for my oldest son it will be one that helps to build a good and strong character, that he could be a mighty man of valor.

We have lots of plans for fun – swimming, horse riding, creative writing group, history club. I am sure more will come as the days go by too.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Library and Educational Services LLC {Review}

There are some companies that I really love having the opportunity to support. Library and Educational Services LLC is one of those! Because I take building up a home library very seriously, I am always looking, not just for the best books, but also the most durable and beautiful, books we can enjoy as a family. For this review we were given the choice of books from the Who Was…” series, an audiobook from Lifehouse Theater, and $60 worth of books of our choosing from their Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books. This was an amazing opportunity, such a blessing, also such a challenge because they just have so many good books….Choosing only a few is hard!

Library and Education Services LLC is a wholesale distributor of quality books and audio books. As a home educator we qualify to purchase directly from them at wholesale prices. Isn’t that just fabulous? It can feel like Christmas ALL the time if you love books as much as I do! And they have so much more than just books. There are also audio CD’s and DVD’s, crafts, hobbies and games for all ages! There were some great things for every age in our house which I guess only made deciding what to get that much more difficult. 🙂

We have been big fans of the “Who Was…” series for a long time now; we are slowly building up our collection of these great books! For this review we chose Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien because my oldest son has really become interested in his works – What better time to encourage him to learn about the man who created all of these stories? We also snagged the one for Alexander the Great because my younger son, also Alexander, has been interested in learning more about this famous man in history who shares his name. These are great books for our children, recommended for ages 7-12, we all enjoyed these both as read aloud and as independent reading. There is even a timeline at the back of each book to help them remember important events that took place.

We also received the audio CD Pride and Prejudice by Lifehouse Theater – this is another favorite product of ours! In the past we have enjoyed other stories they have produced, so we were quite excited to get the chance to enjoy one more. This is an abridged version of the story but I still highly recommend it. The stories are all so engaging; We have done lots of carschooling this summer – between various hockey and skating camps, my oldest son having a couple “jobs” – it is always nice to be able to enjoy time in the car like this. With so many fun things to do, and the few days we get that are good for really enjoying the outdoors – I like to be sure to explore as much as we can and when those car rides are longer – What a great way to inspire our kids in the classics because they are fan from old and dusty and irrelevant! 🙂

When it came to choosing the Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books, I admit, I was a mess. I take my book buying very seriously. While my husband would love (sometimes he asks even) for me to minimize the number of books we have in our house, I am far from ready to do so. I think I would have to join a support group if I started decreasing our little home library. There are an amazing number of books – their selection in unbelievable – so after a lot of deliberation (I could and would buy them all if only…) I finally chose a set of six books, elegantly bound, Renaissance and Reformation. This will be a great addition to some of our studies this year on this time period. These books are full of information too on everything you could image that relates to this time. For my younger children these are full of historical, beautiful images to help them see and for my older ones, the sky is the limit because with all the good stuff inside – lots of rabbit trails to follow! Especially of interest to my oldest were sections on education and preaching; my younger son enjoys studying the index of wars and battles He really enjoys this sort of thing. Want to know something really cool? There are multiple index’s in these books: thematic, people, places, politics and economy, exploration and lots more so whatever your area of curiosity you can find things there to explore.

I was really excited to get my hands on these. Should be some fun greeting for my kids! And this adorable 2-year planner was a great deal!

We were really so pleased with this company and I know we will be enjoying lots more of the materials they have to offer. I really do encourage you, if you are looking for good books, that will help your kids grow to love learning, you have got to explore all the great materials that are offered. There will be plenty of books and CD’s and DVD’s in the near future I will be stocking up on for our family to enjoy! What an amazing variety, what great deals too, for those of us who love books and more!

Click the image below you can see what mother members of the Crew had to say about the items they chose.

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}

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Refreshing and Renewing

I have started to see all these posts some people who are planning for the school year that is to come.

I don’t think I am there yet.

This past year had many ups and downs.

I learned quite a few lessons and we embarked on some really fun things.

If I am honest though when summer came I was glad because this last year made me tired.

I became less sure of myself.

Can we say the foundations were shaking a bit?

As the summer progressed I realized I needed to go back.

I needed to remember and renew my mind.

Why we do this matters.

We need to be sure.

And we do need to have a plan. Even if it changes (and it will) a time or three.

As my kids get older I start to think more about what they know and what they still need to know.

I stepped back and I realize that we don’t have enough joy. We don’t have enough togetherness. We are a family but we still struggle to be in one accord.

There are too many times when we don’t really hear each other. Maybe sometimes that we just don’t want to.

We are not resting. We are not growing. We are simply getting things done. And sometimes we are not.

At some point we stopped being excited about learning something new.

At some point we just decided each day would be composed of a list of things to just get done.

It can be so difficult to maintain strong and healthy relationships with our kids when each day we’re pushing them through a checklist of things that don’t matter to them.

We we cannot live believing that whatever will be will be. When we know what God says, when we know who He says we are…

We know the truth and the truth will set us free…. If we are willing to claim it.

In the coming year it needs to be time to lead out. To show and share that love of learning with my children. Letting them see and create and light their own fires within.

My purpose? To raise my children to know their purpose and to be willing to work hard and stand strong in every situation. To be filled with peace and joy unspeakable.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Home School in the Woods {Review}

One thing that my kids really enjoy when it comes to learning, is being able to get their hands on whatever we are learning. Science projects, electronic kits, baking and making – I think these are the best ways for our kids to learn. Everything. So I am always excited when I have the chance to get my hands on some amazingly interactive materials from Home School in the Woods. We have been so blessed with many of their materials in the past; this time around we focused on Project Passport World History Studies: Renaissance and Reformation. This is a downloadable product and recommended for grades 3-8 (but we used this with all of ours from the four year old to the thirteen year old). Get creative as you learn and explore this amazing time period!

For quite some time my two oldest boys found history to be the “most boring thing ever” and because I personally love history and all we can learn from it, I was rather horrified. Around that time, we discovered this amazing company and some materials that really changed how we look at history. If you are a fan of notebooking, lapbooking or unit studies…these are all of that and more! While I admit that the number of downloads to print out is initially rather overwhelming, I also acknowledge that the variety of activities within these pages is simply priceless.

My kids love using these because it isn’t just about reading and writing; there are timeline materials, recipes to make, audio files to listen and enjoy – I could go on. There is an endless supply of opportunities within these pages (and so many recommended for learning beyond this even). Within this program are 25 “Stops” that can be used throughout 8-12 weeks to explore the people and events, places and influences that were a part of this historical time.

Just as when you take an actual vacation, there are some things that must be done to prepare for your trip here. Of course, you need a passport. Luggage too. We want to make sure too, that we have something handy to keep track of all of the sights we see, this is the Scrapbook of Sights. There is also aa Snapshots Moment in History Timeline (great as a visual reminder of who and what and where and when). A fun addition is The Renaissance Reporter that must be prepared as well because YOU are the one reporting on things that are taking place. Being that I have a couple kids who are very reluctant writers this was a great opportunity to get them writing even if it was just a bit.

There are so many ways in which this is just so fun! We really loved the Mp3 files that were included with this. I think it is one of my boys favorite things – a great way to enjoy stories while we work. starting out in Central ltaly, we enjoyed an audio tour while we gained understanding of Florence, where this all began. It is always fun when my kids are listening and stop to acknowledge a name or place that they know. Some of these we came across were: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare. Since there are so many projects that make up Project Passport, these files were great to use as we worked.

My oldest son is quite the artist so he really enjoyed the portions of this study that involved using various art techniques. He especially appreciated the chalk pastels portion as somehow this has become one of his favorite mediums to work with.

Want an interesting, fun fact? DId you know that forks were first used for serving and eating around the 15th century A.D? Imagine the conversations that ensued after the kids all learned this one…..Some of little things that we take for granted.

Since cooking has become something all of my kids enjoy, we really appreciated reading all about how to Add Interest to History with Recipes. I really do love how all of the materials that this company has include a variety of recipes related to the times and locations being studied. In this study alone we enjoyed learning how to make some delicious treats. Rice pudding has become a fast favorite in our home (minus the raisins) as well as Cheese Krapfen (we Wisconsinites love anything that includes cheese). There are also recipes for salads and meat pies but my kids really stuck to making those sweet treats.

We learned all about the invention of gunpowder and how hourglasses and then mechanical clocks were designed. Can I say, my younger son is now avidly seeking out various types of clocks so that he can take them apart and put them together again? He was even looking into a kit where he could build his own working clock. These are those moments where you know that learning really is happening! The light in the eyes, the hunger to make and do and see. 🙂

What fun it was to listen to a conversation with Michelangelo as he is being sought after to paint the Sistine Chapel (who knew he was not really a painter, per se) but was ordered by the Pope himself to complete this job. We had to wonder, together, did he see his job as “well done” in the end? Perhaps these are simply theatrical performances but what amazing details are provided within – Conversation pieces that remind you of how real these people from so long ago are. Perhaps we hear these names and see them as so much bigger, forgetting that they were people, struggling, working, striving just like us. As we worked through each stop, there was just so much we were able to learn (many rabbit trails that we went on too!).

We are still working our way through all of this of course. There are so many lessons and projects to complete – we don’t want to miss any one of them (certainly you don’t have to complete them all if you don’t want to). It has been quite a busy summer here too but we all agreed that this was something we wanted to make sure to slowly enjoy. All of it. I know it may sound like a lot but it really isn’t. When there is so much fun to be had, why not enjoy it all? My boys even have their eyes on some other materials related to the Civil War and World War II – if that doesn’t speak volumes about the value of these materials, I don’t know what does. When our children can get so involved in something, when they just don’t want it to end, you know you have something that works.

Click the image below to read more reviews from other members of the Review Crew who enjoyed these super fun materials!

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