TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. {Review}

We love art in our house, in whatever form it may take. Yet I confess I am anything but artistic. My sun looks like a square, my pony looks like a blob…So I really appreciate a company like ARTistic Pursuits Inc. that can help encourage and inspire my children at every stage of their artistic journey.  Last year we had so much fun reviewing Art of the Ancients, Volume 3, this year we were very excited about reviewing Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8.

These are just two of the eight volumes that comprise the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8, each one focusing on a specific period of history as it relates to art, helping our children learn what to look for and how to really see and draw from direct observation.

This hardcover book came with both DVD and Blu-ray discs. This is recommended for grade 3 and above but all four of my children really enjoyed this one. There are 18 projects in all; 12 text lessons and six video lessons. My youngest is 3, my oldest is 13, and these lessons were full of opportunities for every one of them. While there are lessons to be learned and techniques to be practiced in each lesson, this program really knows how to do it in a way that allows our children to also express themselves as they learn and create their own works of art.



My girls love to sit and draw; they never enjoyed coloring but they can sit like this for hours. I love how they work together and help other each make shapes and decide which colors to use; they even challenge each other to drawing contests. Since every page in this book is so full of color, they could not get enough of this book. It was such fun for them both to look and then draw what they could see. My oldest daughter is enjoying her new skills in portrait drawing.  Maybe not an exact sketch of her little sister but still such fun!









I was surprised that my younger son was so excited by this one. He has been very interested in woodworking; he learns towards needing to have a purpose in all that he does. So this was a real lesson for him in purpose in art. He is very tentative when it comes to drawing, a bit of a perfectionist. As you might imagine, this can make things a bit complicated. It can also bring out some amazing creations when he is willing. He loved the video lessons! I think he watched and completed every one of them in just one afternoon! Being able to go forward and back and pause as needed really motivated him and I think grew a new appreciation for drawing. He also learned that drawing animals isn’s as hard as he thought it was. He did a pretty nice ram if I say so myself. Then he moved on to the ship – designing his as a pirate ship.


This volume featured artists and art work from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Using colored pencils and graphite too, we learned a variety of ways American artists use line and color. Each lesson focuses on a particular objective ranging from drawing an object, to an animal, a vehicle, patterns, light and shadow. If we didn’t learn too about some very talented artists along the way too!  So many artists that we enjoyed exploring and learning more about. The fine artist in the American colonies, John Singleton Copley, who painted portraits of colonists, which became prized possessions of the wealthy. Or John Frederick Peto who was the master of trompe l’oei (fooling the eye).  There is so much we can learn from these artists and from observing the works they created so long ago. There are even questions throughout the book to help guide you, and your children, as you learn how to see.



Throughout these lessons my children each had the chance to practice various techniques. It wasn’t overwhelming, the lessons were the perfect length for all of my children. And often what we were drawing as related to light or shadow, colors or position, was something right in front of us. We read the lesson and then would search out our very own item to practice with. Perhaps a chunk of cheese, or a bit of fruit. Maybe daddy’s hat or the folding fan. We drew buildings, leaves, flowers and birds – Having so much fun with every one of them!



My oldest son sketched his sister’s stuffed lion. My younger son drew a image of his model tank built with Dad last winter. My girls drew each other and cupcakes. My younger son also decided to do a self portrait; his first year as a goalie and he has really found something he loves, so have to draw that!


I love materials of this sort, ARTistic Pursuits really is THE curriculum for creativity!  This is such a fun way to learn a bit of history while also enjoying a bit of art. I know for my kids when they can do, they learn so much more. There is a lot less struggle involved too. These are very affordable and it doesn’t just encourage us to learn and create but also to come together and do together. It can be hard to find things that all four of my children want to do, together, without endless fighting. But this is something they all get so very excited for! With eight volumes in all you are sure to learn so much too!



Be sure to read what other members of the Crew had to say about the ones they reviewed:

Follow ARTistic Pursuits Inc. on social media @:
Twitter: @ARTisticPursui1
Instagram: @artisticpursuitsinc

Blogging through the Alphabet

Blogging Through the Alphabet {The Letter C}

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,


This week (well this last one anyway) I have been studying how he is our Chief Cornerstone.
In Hebrew it is translated from the word: ro’sh

A prophetic name of Jesus pictured in the Hebrew text: Chief Cornerstone (Rosh pinna) in Psalm 118:22.

A name of Jesus pictured in the Greek text: Chief Cornerstone in 1 Peter 2:7.


Did you know, that in ancient times, when building, the cornerstone was the principle stone. That means that is was the most solid; it was the most carefully crafted. This stone was the most important stone of all in the building. Believe  it or not this one stone could ensure that the building was level; that it had a firm and certain strength so as to not be moved. A sure foundation matters so much more than we sometimes realize (Have you ever lived in one of those homes where there is a bit of an angle to a room? that cornerstone may not be present, or may not be as it ought to be). These cornerstones, before being laid, had to be tested to ensure that it could support the weight that was to be placed upon it.



Just so Jesus is our Chief Cornerstone. Throughout the Old and New Testament we can read how He is to be the foundation, the cornerstone, of our faith. Just as those builders tested that stone for strength, so Jesus was tested and tried repeatedly during his time walking on this earth.



Isaiah 28:16
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. 




If we are truly living for Christ we are to build upon that cornerstone. We are to build upon His Word. Our lives should be an image of His goodness. He is the beginning and the end. When we are firmly rooted and built upon in Him, we too can have that sure foundation. And not just our lives but our homes, our places of business perhaps. When all that we have and all that we are is rooted and grounded in Him, we shall not fail.


The question I ask is this: Is He truly the Chief Cornerstone in your life? ❤



Each week we link up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Be sure to visit these great blogs to travel through all kinds of fun stuff. What a great way to learn something new. 🙂

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
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* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!


What Overflows

I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of person. I don’t think of this perspective as negative so much as realistic. Yet lately in so many ways I have been reminded again and again how important our perspective is.

Training our mind to see the blessings in every situation. Looking for those opportunities, those God moments….

I was thinking of my dear Aunt who passed away a little over a year ago. She was always such a sweet and gentle woman. When I think of her, I think of a glass that is overflowing.

No matter how difficult things were for her the glass was never half empty. She’s always had faith that things were going to work out for good.

Her granddaughter riddled with drugs and alcohol, two pregnancies, still lost and struggling in every way yet she believed Jesus was using this for good.

As her Alzheimer’s and cancer worsened, she continued to love others. To tell others how much God loves them. She determined o finish her race. She touched so many lives. That is overflow.

She believed very much the value of enduring to the end. In every storm she saw the rainbow that was to come. She knew God was with her and would finish His work in her.

She never had a doubt. Child like faith. Are we not told we need to be as a child if we wish to enter into the Kingdom?


I want that kind of faith. To have a heart so fixed on Jesus that I have no doubt. That my heart and my life are overflowing with Jesus.

I pray that I will grow such great faith that I will not be shaken; that no matter the situation I will stand firm and sure on the rock, Jesus Christ.

I imagine all that can be reached; all the lives that can be changed, if we, every one of us, lived a life that was overflowing with HIs goodness and love.


Let us pray that He will work in us, through us, so that all that He will would flow out of us to every one we meet.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Homeschool Complete {Second Grade Review}

Not long ago we took the dive into unschooling – Jumping right in. To me, I saw this as a time to throw curriculum out the door – My daughter disagreed though. Turns out she really likes all of those worksheets and books. Unlike my boys, she has a need to follow a certain path (at least for now). Needless to say that had me on the hunt for something that we would both enjoy. When I saw Homeschool Complete for review, I was more than happy to explore their Second Grade Complete program. We received this material as a digital download and the moment it arrived we were hooked.

Being that we love to read, this being both a Biblical and literature based program, I was pretty excited. My daughter too. I love all inclusive stuff because, if I can be totally honest, right now I am anything but organized. With an older son who is a very reluctant, sometimes rebellious spirit, and a younger son who is all about tools and building and creating, they alone keep me super busy. We have spent most of this very cold Wisconsin winter, hiding in our house and just trying to work on better relationships, greater character. And working in a place of rest. I worried that this could upset that initially but, so thankful, I was wrong! I especially love that their goal is more than just facts and figures; they desire for our children to learn problem solving skills, to gain higher level thinking abilities and especially to grow a love of learning. I( am reminded that this is what it is all about.

I absolutely love how organized and detailed this program is! Perfect for this season when I feel like such a mess of a mom! Every subject we need is covered; all in fun themed units too! This even covers art and music; I especially love that there is poetry writing too. I am the first to admit how easy it is for me to get overwhelmed at times, so this was refreshing and encouraging to me. The Teacher’s Manual was quite the blessing! Full of guidance, reminders to encourage and stay positive, it did not just act as a how-to manual for the program but also an inspiring, helpful reminder of being gentle, staying positive. Every day is a listing of exactly what you need to do for every subject. There direction is so clear – In fact, I was just using this program as an example to another mom who was expressing her concern about not doing enough. When we are not sure what they should know, we can always go back to the handy skills list that shows us by subject area, the skills being practiced. Trust me, with this program, you definitely have more than enough. 🙂

Doesn’t this all look so very fun? These are designed for a five day week of learning with the program being completed in about 36 weeks. We are very relaxed in our learning so and kind with our young learners. Walking with them; helping them see clearly. I admit, there were times we went a bit slower. However there was also a lot of enthusiasm on the part of my daughter and so there were other days that we really had fun with this! Each day we would print off the pages that needed to be completed, we would head to a special place (a time I am reminded of the value and power of just my daughter and I) and we would begin. Since she loves to write and draw, I think she really appreciated all the different ways that she was able to “work.” The fact that she really looked forward to this and saw it as “fun” was a great relief to me because, I really want to see my children enjoy and love their learning experiences. I had no idea what a cinquain was before we began this program. Moments like this also cause me to gain a greater love for whatever program we are using. I mean if I can learn from it too, that says a lot.

So how do I explain how really amazing this program is? I mean, I do not think I have really enjoyed a curriculum in a very long time. Any preparation that is required is simply getting ahold of books for the unit, and basic materials that we all have or can easily access anyway. With this, there really is no need for other materials (I am a recovering curriculum hoarder so I appreciate it all being in one place, covering all things). Some of the things they cover are so simple (but we can easily overlook them, at least I can) with daily calendar work. What month is it, what day is it? I sometimes joke that “we homeschool, it doesn’t matter.” But then we find times when it really does and while I believe that our children will grow into understanding, perhaps when they have their very own calendar (my daughter likes to have her own) there is value as she identifies each day, and can see the fun times, experiences and explorations to come. Journal writing also became something that we really enjoyed together; she would often write about her dog or her best friend and maybe draw a picture here and there. At times she would ask me to spell a word or help her with a letter, but more often it was a great opportunity to practice letter sounds and “think on paper” as she says. I think part of her enthusiasm came from me showing her some of my old journals. How fun can it be at times to read and see your journey?

This is relationship based. Sometimes we forget about the value of relationships; we become the teacher. We become the task master. A lot of programs we have used have caused me to feel this way. But this one really is such an adventure; math and reading, writing and Bible time. These all are designed in such a way that you can truly enjoy what you are doing. For my daughter, I see her grow in her confidence most of all, with this. As we read Flat Stanley we also create our own adventure – my daughter loves this stuff – of course she couldn’t be Flat Stanley, call her Flat Cora – she would float straight to the Canary Islands to visit her “sister” we hosted some years ago. She learned about symmetry as she designed her very own butterfly (she has a small butterfly garden she plants every spring). One of her reading lessons even included the name of her brother. Another story she read in this had her daddy’s name. It’s simple, little things but her sweet little heart loves to see and connect things like this. She amazes me as we work through these pages; I love how she snuggles up close as we read all these great books. I am not holding my breath, I can breath again and even though this is a curriculum, I can still feel relaxed and free. As we work, we walk in faith. We imagine and create and explore from habitats and migration to bats and tall tales and rivers. We even had so much fun with tangrams and great songs that helped us learn the states, the continents, the basics of economics. Did I mention there are even some amazing, delicious, recipes to enjoy together? I mean, isn’t this program just amazing?

Being such a bookworm, I just love literature based programs; so many great stories we have experienced. Many we even had in our little home library. Other times we enjoy spending the day at our local library, or on the especially cold days, watching and listening to stories through Librivox , Audible, or on YouTube. I am always amazed at all the great discussions and the rabbit trails we end up following as we enjoy so many different books. It can be easy to forget all of the great lessons that can be learned even when we are “just” learning about rocks or eyes or cowboys. Since our children are all unique, fearfully and wonderfully made, there are activities designed for every learning style included in this program. Having four children who are so different from one another in so many ways, I see so much value in programs like this one that allow and encourage our children, however they best learn. Granted, I did use this solely with my seven year old daughter but the way this is designed I really could use this with any of my children and I believe they would do well. I really wish they had this program for middle and high school levels? This is one of those things that I think is a requirement for anyone who says “I can’t homeschool my kids.” It could not be simpler; it could not be more fun.

Want to learn more about Homeschool Complete’s unit studies & complete curriculum for additional grades? For those of you who are as excited as I am about this one, use the code CREW2019 and get 10% off your order until 3/31/2019. What a great deal! Still not sure? Click on the banner below and read lots of other reviews by our homeschool review crew!


Twitter: Tag: @homeschoolcmplt


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Blogging through the Alphabet

Blogging Through the Alphabet – {The Letter B}

Welcome back to the second week of Blogging Through the Alphabet. It is always a pleasure to have a friend “stop by”.

For more Blogging Through the Alphabet fun be sure to visit my wonderful co-hosts:



For so long I have longed to travel to Israel; to go on one of those tours where you walk the Bible. How amazing would that be to stand near some of those famous places where the blind received sight; where the dead were raised. Where new life was born again. to feel and walk in the dust of Jesus. Of course, in this season of our life, this is not something that is possible BUT – isn’t reading great? – I have begun to gather an amazing collection of books related to the history, the culture, the deeper meaning of so many things we read within the pages of scripture. One of my very favorites is my book that studies the many names of God. In fact, it arrived the day I was pondering and putting off writing my very first post for this. And so when I saw it in my mail, I knew this was how I would blog through the alphabet. One beautiful,, precious name at a time.



This week? He is the Bread of Life. … Lechem Ha-Chayim




The Bible says, man shall not live by bread alone. Certainly there is more to life than food and drink. We need to be fed spiritually as well. I know there are times that I feel so well nourished and then there are others when I am feeling a lack of nourishment. Other times, I am famished – just unable to get enough of all that God has to share. Lately I have not been as present online as I once was. I feel a sense of urgency; I feel drawn more and more to study. Wanting to ensure that wherever I am and whatever I may be doing, I am in some way, about my Father’s business.



      Jesus often taught that the physical is often a metaphor for spiritual things. Bread sustains and nourishes us. But only temporarily. We were created for so much more than just temporary nourishment. Yet the meaning and value of bread can understood very differently depending where when you were and where you were. Back then, bread was a staple of life. An every day necessity. Consider the words of this man, from so long ago:


As the son of a Syrian family I was brought up to think of bread as possessing a mystic sacred significance. I never would step on a piece of bread fallen in the road, but would pick it up, press it to my lips for reverence, and place it in a wall or on some other place where it would not be trodden upon. What always seemed to me to be one of the noblest traditions of my people was their reverence to the “aish” (bread; literally “the life-giver”). While breaking bread together we would not rise to salute an arriving guest, whatever the social rank. Whether spoken or not, our excuse for not rising and engaging in the cordial (Near East) salutation before the meal was ended, was our reverence for the food (hir-metal-aish). We could, however, and always did, invite the newcomer most urgently to partake of the repastThe aish was something more than mere matter. Inasmuch as it sustained life, it was God’s own life made tangible for his child, man, to feed upon. The Most High Himself fed our hunger. Does not the psalmist say, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.”? (From The Syrian Christ by Abraham Rihbanypublished 1916.)



Bread had so much value. It was a blessing because it provided sustenance.  Whether travelling long distances or “breaking bread” as a show of kindness and hospitality, there were many ways that bread was used. Every one of them showing signs of care, compassion. Certainly one can live for a long time on only bread and water. (Does Jesus not say that He is that living water? Bread and Water…..More on Living Water when we get to “L”)




In Exodus it was manna or “bread from heaven” that fed the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness. A symbol of God’s faithfulness and love. In the Book of John Jesus miraculously fed five thousand with only five barley loaves (these were rather unpleasant in taste and very heavy by the way).  Not all that delicious but it certainly was something even those who were very poor could make and it provided all the nourishment you would need.




Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is our spiritual nourishment. We cannot go without Him if we wish to live and thrive spiritually. In fact, we are often told that we ought to “hunger and thirst” after these spiritual things so much more than those which only provide for the body for a time. All that we hunger and thirst after? He can fill us, He can provide for us everlasting life when we come to Him to eat and to drink.


And we’d love to have you join our inky party whenever you can!

Inlinkz Link Party




Please do consider linking up of you enjoy blogging. We would love to hear from you! And isn’t it true, the more the merrier?

Blogging through the Alphabet

A is for Abba {Blogging Thru The Alphabet Link Up}

I honestly wasn’t sure what to do for this one. I was excited to be a part of this link -up (rying it again because I am so easily distracted as of late)  and so I really struggled…What to do?

What can I share for 26 letters that will be exciting? Interesting? Meaningful too? Inspiring?

And then I happened to get this book in the mail and I knew exactly what I would write.

Because of course the very first one is the letter A this week we are learning all about Abba.

Abba is the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek word for Daddy which is also come to mean “dear father.” I find it fascinating that one word can mean something so powerful and in three different languages too.

There’s so many names for God. And I like to think that for each one that we learn of we grow a bit closer to our God. We experience God in a new way when we encounter the various names and titles of his and we learn about the context in which these were revealed to his people.

Abba is one of his name’s. Abba tells us about his character. It tells us of his desire for us It guides us and instructs us in the way we might come before him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. It’s kind of like what we tell our children. We want them to trust us because we are their parents and we know what is best. How God wants us to trust in him in that same way.

Abba. Father. Tender. Compassionate. Merciful.

I don’t know about you but growing up I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father. My parents were divorced and my father worked all the time. When I did see him he was tired and we never really connected. It can be hard to relate to God as a loving father when you haven’t really had that exact experience.

Whatever our experience with our earthly father may be, God tells us what He will do as our heavenly father. We can learn of him and cast our cares upon Him. He is patient and slow to anger.

The care and the protection He will provides. He reminds us that we can rest in his arms safely. He also tells us how important it is for us to have that intimate relationship with him.

We can come to him in greater surance and faith because we know but he has called us and chosen us. When we call out to our Father Abba, we are calling out in great. Just as a child would to their earthly father.

It is because of his goodness that we can truly pray to our Heavenly Father that his will be done and his Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Join us as we blog through the alphabet. You can link up below. Please do!

Inlinkz Link Party

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Kirsten @ DoodleMom Homeschool

Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind

Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase

Christine @ Lifes’s Special Necessities

Yvonne Billian @ The Life We Build

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag

Wendy @ Life on Chickadee Lane

Lori @ At Home: where life happens

Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach



TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Books {Review}

My younger son loves to read. It is such a blessing because for a very long time he really struggled. Then one day, it just all made sense. And now he cannot get enough of good books. When I received two new books from the series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls both, The Great Escape (Book #3) and Journey to Jericho (Book #4) from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, he was pretty excited. Besides who doesn’t love time travel? I know I often imagine what it would have been like to be there for all of these stories we read of in the Bible.

We actually had the opportunity to review the first two books in the series previously. These came at the perfect time too because this was when my younger son was feeling rather frustrated in his reading skills; these were a breath of fresh air. He was so excited and gobbled them up. Mostly on his own too. They weren’t too easy, but they weren’t too hard either. And the story was just so exciting from beginning to end. You couldn’t help but turn those pages. Just so you know, all four of these books are like that. Impossible to put down!

These books are recommended for first through third grade, however my oldest son really enjoyed the stories too. These are simple, fun stories with characters you really get attached to. Peter, Mary and even Hank (my kids love any story that has an animal as a lead character), are so fun to explore with. I know because I read these myself (I could not resist the opportunity to experience the walls of Jericho falling down and the Red Sea parting for the Israelites. I love this sort of stuff too you know.

The Great Escape (Book 3) was a great way to experience a story in the book of Exodus; it’s simple yet sound introduction to the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. I loved son giggling as he read this one. Little things, like a camel spitting at Peter or when Mary kicked the snake in the head. At the same time, I loved that he saw Biblical accuracy in the story as he read. Talk about bringing the Bible to life. I think it is so important for our children to really experience these stories for themselves. We have to know that these are true; we have to know that God’s Word is real and that it is for us. This is one more way for that to happen.

In Journey to Jericho (Book 4) we become one of the spies sent to Jericho. It is in the desert that we meet with Joshua and learn a bit about the journey the Israelites are on. You can even learn how to write the Hebrew letters YHWH in this one (I love Hebrew). How exciting to hide out with the spies (so much easier with walkie talkies and binoculars) and experience those seven days waiting and being faithful to the Lord. God always keeps His promises. I have always admired Rahab; her ability to recognize truth and defend it. What great faith!

In every story Peter and Mary must solve the secret of the scroll and every scroll will take them on such a great adventure. And at the end of every book there is a short section that explains more about the story and where you can find it in the Bible. There are also special notes (like the Princess not being based on any specific Biblical character).

Not long ago my younger son decided that he wanted to begin reading his Bible from beginning to end. I love how these stories only encourage that because now he cannot wait to get to these stories in his own Bible. I cannot say enough how great I think these stories are, both for inspiring a love of reading and also for getting our children engaged with their Bibles and with their God.

There are so many promises, so many lessons we can learn from the Bible but we have to get into it. We have to desire it; our children have to desire it. We cannot wait to see you what adventure comes next! We here are hoping that there are SO many more to come. Don’t forget to visit my fellow members of the Review Crew to see what their thoughts were on these books. Get excited, get your kids excited, for the Good News and grab your copies today. 🙂

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