Algebra, oh Algebra, how we struggle to appreciate you! I don’t remember much of my two years in high school studying Algebra (yes, you read that right, two years, in Algebra 1) As you can see, math is not my strong suit and my oldest son seems to have the very same head for math that I do. So, we were thrilled (I was thrilled) to have the opportunity to try out THINKWELL’S INSTRUCTOR-LED ALGEBRA 1 from Thinkwell Homeschool. Honestly, I figured this could be a wonderful opportunity for the both of us.

My favorite part of home learning is that I get to learn right alongside my kids; I have to be honest, most of what I learned in public school is a blur. What I do recall often seems fairly useless. Perhaps moreso because it was poorly taught. I do believe the key to truly learning is for us to experience and connect what we are learning with life as we know it.

This course is instructor led however if you are unable to be there for the live course, these are recorded – we often had to watch them at a later time ourselves. We have access to this class for a full year so that should be plenty of time for us to develop a better math head.

What I loved immediately about this program? They provide a calendar. They also provide tips for success! There is nothing better than a program that starts our showing our kids how they can be successful (especially when it is a course like Algebra – which my son just dreads!). Also, to get started in a lesson plan – very detailed – in regards to the goals and content being covered in every lesson. Know what to expect. Prepare for what will be.

For my son, who is very much a visual learner, this was a wonderful program that really helped him to better understand Algebra. Each video is between 5-10 minutes in length (this is also great since he struggles to focus for long periods of time) and the instructor is pretty engaging. As he speaks, translating from Algebra to words, you also see exactly how to work the problems. There are also lesson notes which you can print out if you choose to do so. I always find that having them together in a folder is very helpful when it comes time to work the problems. Especially since the notes include numerous examples; again this can be very helpful for when there are struggles trying to complete the practice sheets.

Following the video lessons there are multiple opportunities to use both interactive online and worksheets for practice. We really liked the interactive practice; submit your answers and then you are able to see what was correct/incorrect and also notes regarding the operation used to solve each question. Definitely a nice way to review.

One thing that is very helpful is being able to go over the video repeatedly. We have access to this course for a full year so we are quite likely going to use that entire period of time to just to be sure that he’s really got it.

Without a doubt this is an excellent program for these higher level maths that perhaps cause some anxiety or dread in us. With such simplified teaching, many great visuals and plenty of opportunities to practice what is being taught, I am certain that my son will have a much greater understanding of Algebra when this class is completed. We will likely use this for other maths too! Definitely click on the banner below and read with other members of the Review Crew thought of the courses they used with their children.

Thinkwell Instructor-Led Algebra 1 {Review}

Life sometimes brings difficult situations or circumstances that can leave us feeling run-down, drained, worn-out, and threadbare. Illness, the death of a family member, the loss of a job, natural disasters, a pandemic. The events of this year have left us struggling in ways we cannot articulate. These are the times we most desperately need prayer, but they can also be the times we simply don’t have the words to form a prayer. How do you pray when you can’t find the words?
In Threadbare Prayer: Prayers for Hearts that Feel Hidden, Hurt, or Hopeless (Abingdon Press), Stacey Thacker presents 100 simple yet heartfelt devotions to guide readers on the days they don’t know what to pray. Each entry in this attractive, gift-worthy devotional contains a Bible verse, a brief thought, and a simple, concise prayer to encourage the reader’s heart.
Part 1 of an Interview Stacey Thacker,
Author of Threadbare Prayer

Q: What is a threadbare prayer?
A threadbare prayer is a simple prayer based on Scripture that is easy to remember. Sometimes we go through seasons when we are feeling hidden, hurt, or hopeless and want to pray, but we just don’t have the words. I’ve gone through those times and found focusing on one simple prayer at a time was the key to holding on to Jesus.
A threadbare prayer can also be something we whisper in our hearts because we don’t have the strength to voice them aloud for others to hear. In those quiet moments, we can be sure that Jesus isn’t threadbare at all, and He will hear us and hold us together.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your new book, Threadbare Prayer. Who did you write it for and how is it intended to be read?
Let’s begin with who I thought about when I was writing this book. I thought about my friends, women I know from college and bump into at church or online who are feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, desperate and broken. Right now, I think that describes a lot of women—they feel worn and like they are hanging by a thread.
At the core of her heart, I think a threadbare woman is determined not to put distance between herself and God—but to draw near, press in, and cling to the hem of his robe. She shouts her ache to Jesus who she knows is holding her heart.
This book is a way to do just that. I wrote it so we could all focus on the Word, honestly pour out our threadbare hearts, and hold on to Jesus. He does beautiful work in our broken places if we let Him.
Q: How did the idea for the book come about?
I started writing Threadbare Prayer in my journal, during my Bible study. They were, from the beginning, very personal. I shared a couple on my blog and social media, and my friends and readers all said, “This is your next book!” I was actually surprised, but I’ve learned to listen to my followers throughout the years! So, I started to be a little more intentional about writing and sharing them and began to think about what a book about threadbare prayer could be.
I knew each prayer would have a verse, a short devotional, and the threadbare prayer. I also knew that a threadbare woman doesn’t have a lot of time or capacity for a deep dive into prayer. It needed to be meaningful and rich but simple. In the end, the idea for it to be a gift style book of 100 prayers emerged and I couldn’t be happier! It is the perfect book to leave on your coffee table or desk at work and give to a friend. I’m so happy with how it has turned out.
Q: In the book, you share stories of some of your own threadbare moments. Can you share some of the times when you have found yourself grasping for words to pray?
Throughout the book there are glimpses of some of my most threadbare moments. They include a period of three years where my dad passed away, my almost 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and relentless chronic illness, and my husband suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. I found myself alone, fearful, weeping, and wondering what God was doing.
During each of these times, I would describe my prayers as desperate and simple. I didn’t have fine or fancy words. I couldn’t remember long passages of Scripture. I just had small breath prayers that I repeated over and over. “Lord, you are my shepherd, and I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1) was one that I prayed when Mike was in ICU and later in rehab. I knew, Jesus was enough. He wasn’t threadbare, He was holding on to me.
Q: Is it always a major life event or stressor that causes threadbare periods or can these times also come from busyness and general weariness?
I think right now we are seeing that being threadbare can actually be a lot of little things that we are faced with in everyday life. Pandemic? Suddenly being HOME for 6 months, virtual learning, having to figure out how to see our parents who live in another state during quarantine?
I actually found the word “threadbare” in a book I was reading. As I read it, the word “stuck” in my heart, and I looked down and noticed my jeans had become threadbare and worn at the knee. Little by little with daily wear and tear, the hole got bigger. Isn’t that a picture of how little things can wear on us and we find ourselves hanging by a thread just trying to get the laundry finished or the groceries put away?
Q: What would you say to someone who is in the middle of a desert right now who can’t seem to see the better days ahead?
I would say that Jesus is powerfully drawn to your threadbare heart. His invitation in Matthew 11:28 is to “come to him and he will give you rest.” He is a comforter. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is not far off. When you are hanging on by a thread, pray. Be honest. Pour out your heart. Take one Scripture and tell your heart the truth about who He is. Praise him. And let him do a beautiful thing in that broken place.
He will. I’ve seen him do that in my own life.
 Threadbare Prayer: Prayers for Hearts that Feel Hidden, Hurt, or Hopeless
By Stacey Thacker
Available October 6, 2020 from Abingdon Press
Hardback ISBN: 9781791008017 / $19.99
eBook ISBN: 9781791008024 / $19.99
About the author:
Stacey Thacker is an author, blogger, speaker, and believer who loves God’s Word and connecting with women. Her passion is to encourage women in their walks with God and equip them to study the Bible. She created the blog community Mothers of Daughters and now blogs on her site, StaceyThacker.com.
Thacker is the author of seven books including Hope for the Weary Mom: Let God Meet You in the Mess and has written a series of Bible studies, The Girlfriends’ Guide to the Bible. Her latest book is Threadbare Prayer: Prayers for Hearts that Feel Hidden, Hurt, or Hopeless.
She worked with Campus Crusade for Christ for five years before becoming a full-time mom to four daughters. Her family lives on the Orlando, FL area.
Visit Stacey Thacker online at staceythacker.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@OfficialStaceyThacker)Twitter (@staceythacker), and Instagram (@staceythacker).

Does 2020 have you worn thin?

While most studies on the book of Ruth focus on the book’s namesake, in Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story (Abingdon Press), Heather M. Dixon focuses in on Ruth’s widowed mother-in-law instead. “I’ve always read and taught Ruth from Naomi’s perspective because ultimately, I think it’s her story,” Dixon explains. “For all believers, a transformed heart is one of the key identifiers of life with Christ and as readers, we get to experience that journey with Naomi—from bitterness to renewed joy. Her transformation echoes that of anyone who has struggled with a hard story and found Jesus to be faithful along the way. It’s also my personal belief that Naomi’s response to grief has often been judged too harshly. I wanted to give my readers a safe place to explore feelings of bitterness as they learned to look for God’s movement in their own story.”
In Renewed, women glean wisdom from Naomi’s perspective, a woman who lived a story she didn’t choose or like. Forced to chart a new path as she mourned the loss of her husband and two sons, Naomi learned that the journey from bitterness to renewed hope and joy was rooted in God’s promise of redemption.
Q: Is it OK to grieve the parts of our stories that we don’t like or is that self-pity? What can we learn from Naomi’s bitterness about her situation?
You have permission to grieve! Naomi was bitter because of her circumstances (and who wouldn’t be?), but she still remembered God’s sovereignty. Did He punish her for her bitterness? No, He was always working for her good as He brought renewed hope to her life. Her story reminds us that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to say this is not what we wanted. It’s okay to acknowledge this isn’t how things should be. We don’t have to be afraid of expressing our honest feelings to God because he understands. Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, even when He knew He was about to raise him to life.
I think our society has much to learn from an example that values a natural and healthy grief process over stoicism. What’s more, the expression of grief is an acknowledgement that this broken world needs Jesus. When we let it, grief can be a vehicle for deep intimacy with Jesus.
Q: We’re familiar with how Boaz was the kinsmen-redeemer who rescued Ruth, but how did he redeem Naomi? How does this parallel the gospel story and our need for a redeemer?
The gospel story is rooted in redemption and renewal. From the pages of Genesis 3, the promise for redemption through Jesus has always been God’s plan for this world. (“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:15) The kinsman-redeemer promise extended to Naomi also. When Boaz married Ruth, he redeemed all of Naomi’s property that she acquired through the death of her husband and sons. For Naomi, Boaz’s purchase of her property promised provision and care for her future. Without Boaz, she would be debt-ridden and destitute, but his redemption of her property made way for the renewal of her story.
Similarly, through His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation with His blood. He redeemed all that may have been lost from our past circumstances and the entire debt we owe to God for our sins. His purchase promises our provision and care for eternity. Without Him, we would be unable to pay the debt we owe to God. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we have everlasting hope for renewed joy.
Q: How was Naomi reminded that God would always provide?
I adore that one of the motifs from the book of Ruth is the empty-to-full motif. Naomi was empty in every way at the beginning of her story, but it ends with her being full—full with food, family, happiness, offspring. God provided for her every need. God provided companionship for Naomi through Ruth’s determination to stay with her. God provided food for Naomi and Ruth in what would have appeared to be a stranger’s field, but it wasn’t. God provided family through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. He provided happiness through the birth of her grandson, Obed. And He provided offspring and blessing and security through Obed’s family line, which was the human ancestral family line for Jesus.
Q: What does Naomi’s story teach us about hope for our own situations?
I remember watching my elementary school friends on the playground, climbing up the tall ladder to mount the slide and zooming down it without fear. Hands up and laughing all the way down, they were free and joyful. I didn’t think I could do it myself, but watching them gave me hope. If they could do it, maybe I could too. I sense the same feelings rising when I read Naomi’s story.
She was a woman who walked through what many of us fear the most: the death of precious loved ones and life-altering change. And yet, if God could renew her story, why couldn’t He do it for mine as well? Naomi’s story teaches us that God is sovereign, loving, strategic, and compassionate. Her story prompts us to courageously lift our chins and say “He did it for Naomi, He can do it for me too.” There is hope in that. As a second-grader, I raised my hands as I slid down the slide. As a woman who has experienced much grief and change, I now place my story in God’s capable hands, knowing that God is always working for my good, even when I can’t see it. And that renewed joy is always just around the corner when I am walking with Jesus.
Q: Did you write Renewed for a specific audience of women?
Yes, absolutely. I wrote Renewed for any woman that is carrying a difficult and life-altering story. I wrote it for the woman who is not just walking through a season of hardship, but who has experienced a story that they did not choose and cannot change.
I also wrote it for the woman who yearns to trust God’s sovereignty and His plan for her life even as she grieves and is angered by her circumstances. Trusting God and grieving your story are not mutually exclusive. Renewed is for the woman who needs an honest space to do both as God fills them with hope.
Q: Tell us about the format of the study. How long does each lesson take and how many weeks are in the study?
Because we lead busy lives, this study is designed with just four weeks of study, and three days of lessons each week. Each day’s lesson will guide you through personal study of a passage from Ruth as well as application of what you’ve learned. This study is intentionally designed to offer a flexible but thorough plan to walk through the entire book of Ruth. You may find that setting time aside on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to go through each lesson works best for your schedule. Or perhaps it may be better to work through them on the weekends. Depending on your learning and study style, I would expect to spend 20-30 minutes on each lesson.
Q: What other Renewed resources are available to go along with the study?
The study itself includes a participant workbook with leader helps, but a DVD with four 20 to 25-minute segments (with closed captioning) is available for separate purchase also. The teaching videos are also available via AmplifyMedia.com, and streaming from Cokesbury.com.
Heather M. Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who understands living with a story that is not easy. Diagnosed with an incurable and terminal genetic disorder that she inherited from her mother, she is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to trust in God, face their greatest fears, and live with hope, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.
When she is not blogging at The Rescued Letters or speaking at women’s conferences and events, Dixon loves to make the most of everyday moments such as cooking for her husband and son, brainstorming all the possible ways to organize Legos and superheroes, checking out way too many library books, or unashamedly indulging in her love for all things Disney.
Dixon is a regular contributor to Journey magazine and the author of women’s Bible studies, Determined: Living Like Jesus in Every Moment and Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story.
Visit Heather M. Dixon online attherescuedletters.com. She can also be found on Facebook (Heather M. Dixon – The Rescued Letters)Twitter (@rescuedletters), and Instagram (@rescuedletters).

Part 2 of an Interview Heather M. Dixon, Author of Renewed

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

There is something about music that just makes everything more fun! Whether dishes, laundry, cleaning up messes when there is music in the atmosphere, I do believe we just have a better spirit as we do. For our children, I think music makes learning so much more fun and natural; there is a rhythm to songs that only aids in their development. For this, and so much more, we were happy to review a Musik at Home Membership, from Musik at Home. This gave us three months worth of access to all of their lessons, to be enjoyed by all children from infant to seven years.

Musik at Home Membership includes a Family Music for Babies and Toddlers course recommended for ages Infant to 24 months, Family Music for Mixed Ages 1-5), Family Music for Preschoolers ( 3-5), and Family Music (4-7).  Each course contains between 6-9 full length programs which are about 15-30 minutes in length. There are also bonus activities which are about two to three minutes long. Some of the videos and activities use various rhythm sticks, shakers and rattles, scarves for dance. Whether you purchase materials for this course or use what you have at home, this is easily a great way to bond and grow with your little ones!

Perhaps now is a good time to grab some wooden spoons; save those plastic ice cream tubs and start making music. My daughter’s brother plays the drums so my younger ones really know how to jam! My littlest one is always dancing and singing; a love of music is just in her blood. So I am always so happy to be able to encourage this.

And for my older daughter (she is nine) she really just enjoyed dancing and making music with her little sister. What a wonderful way for siblings to bond as they make music and create amazing dances together. Honestly, some days we just enjoyed listening and singing the songs, curled up together, too. Especially as these days get cold and wet this is a great way to encourage imagination in everyone and an appreciation of music.

Whether you purchase videos individually, gift them, or obtain an annual or monthly membership, this is bound to become a favorite activity in the home. With over 400 activities, plus a Christmas Music course coming in late October, there are so many ways to explore music, make music, and move! I know we need all the help we can get with moving lately and my little ballerina just LOVES the scarf dancing courses. I think that she watched every one a hundred times.

If you are looking for a way to involve more music and dance into your days with your younger children, I definitely recommend this program. My girls love music and song so this was a wonderful way to explore it more with them both. Such a simple and fun way to appreciate and grow musical appreciation in your home.

Enjoy Musik at Home on Social Media:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/musikathome
Twitter: http://twitter.com/musikathome
Instagram: http://instagram.com/musikathome
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/musikathome
YouTube: http://youtube.com/musikathome

Make sure you click the banner below and see what other members of the Crew have to say about all of the great programs that are a part of Musik At Home. Whether through song or dance, imaginative play, there are so many ways music will help you to explore and grow together!

Musik at Home Membership {Review}

God doesn’t call plays out of a playbook from the clouds in the sky. He wants to walk with us along every step of our story, holding our hand when we are unsure of the plan.”

There are few things that can make us feel as helpless as living with a story we don’t like. Life is rarely fair, and things happen beyond our control that impact our lives in negative ways. Maybe our story involves the loss of a loved one, an unwanted transition, a difficult diagnosis, or a dream that fell through. At one time or another, we all deal with disappointments and feel that we are being punished. For women searching for a glimmer of hope, Heather M. Dixon has written Renewed: Finding Hope When You Don’t Like Your Story, a four-week study diving into the life of Naomi from the Book of Ruth.

Dixon wrote Renewed for any woman that is carrying a difficult and life-altering story they did not choose and cannot change. She also wrote it for the woman who yearns to trust God’s sovereignty and His plan for her life even as she grieves and is angered by her circumstances. She believes that trusting God and grieving your story are not mutually exclusive. Dixon herself lives with incurable and terminal genetic disorder, so understands what it means to live a story that is not easy. With insight from her own journey, she teaches women to flourish even as they live hard stories through a willingness to trust that God can transform them and trade their heartache for hope. They will learn to rely on God’s movement in the details of their story, even when it can’t be seen, gain confidence to act in the part of their stories that they can change, and watch expectantly for God to redeem the parts they can’t.

Q: Most studies on the book or Ruth focus on Ruth and Boaz but Renewed looks at Naomi’s story. Why do you think Naomi’s story is such an important part of the book?

I’ve always read and taught Ruth from Naomi’s perspective because ultimately, I think it’s her story. However, there are three main reasons why hers should be explored:

One, for all believers, a transformed heart is one of the key identifiers of life with Christ and as readers, we get to experience that journey with Naomi—from bitterness to renewed joy. Ruth and Boaz are beautiful characters, but they are rather stagnant. It’s Naomi that changes, and her transformation echoes that of anyone who has struggled with a hard story and found Jesus to be faithful along the way.

Two, from a literary perspective, there are a number of devices the author uses to indicate that Naomi’s story is the important one.

And three, it’s my personal belief that Naomi’s response to grief has often been judged too harshly. I wanted to give my readers a safe place to explore feelings of bitterness as they learned to look for God’s movement in their own story.

Q: Can you share more about your own story, specifically the part of your story you don’t like?

There are several pieces of my story that I could share with you that I don’t like, but the milestones would be when I lost my mother at the age of eleven, when my father died twenty years later, and when I was diagnosed with an incurable, connective tissue disorder that I inherited from my mother. We know now that this disorder is what took her life at thirty-seven. Doctors have told me that my own life expectancy is forty-eight.

I understand grief, loss, and life changes where you just have to close the door, determine not to look back, pick your head up, and keep going. But I also know the sweet and life-giving love of a Heavenly Father who fills our story with comfort, hope, and purpose, even when we feel that all is lost. God breathes renewed life into our weary souls, and that truth keeps me putting two feet on the floor in the morning, even when I still don’t like my story.

Q: How did your diagnosis change how you look at life? What does “living your life well” look like to you?

The answer is always evolving. At its core, it looks like waking up and knowing the next twenty-four hours might be my last. So, living my life well means pursuing ways that I can honor God, love my family, and serve my community until I lay my head to rest for the night. I fail at this everyday! But it gives me a sense of focus that I didn’t have before.

My diagnosis also changed my perspective on hardship. Anyone who has walked through any measure of suffering can quickly tell you what matters and what doesn’t. Things that might have seemed like a major problem before are now minor inconveniences that I know will pass. That’s a blessing.

Finally, my diagnosis has taught me to pursue bucket-list living. I’m much more spontaneous and carefree than I used to be, and I seek activities that will make lasting memories, big and small. A scoop of mint chocolate chip from the local ice cream shop is just as precious as a spur of the moment family vacation. I am thankful for each moment I have, which is something most people search for their entire lives.

Q: You write, “God doesn’t call plays out of a playbook from the clouds in the sky. He wants to walk with us along every step of our story, holding our hand when we are unsure of the plan.” What are some things we need to remember about God’s sovereignty when it comes to our story?

This is one of the deepest blessings I have discovered walking through my hard story. God is a relational God—He seeks to walk every step with us. And we can trust Him with that path because in His sovereignty, He is also compassionate, merciful, and loving. We aren’t puppets in His playroom; we are His beloved daughters, whom He values and cherishes. Walking in intimacy with Him blesses us with peace, comfort, and joy. Another important truth about God’s sovereignty is that He has a master plan—for us and for His creation. We are a part of that plan, treasured pieces in a divine puzzle that will be complete when all things are renewed. He won’t let us stray off course, nor will He leave our lives to chance. Every moment matters to Him and He has a plan to renew every piece of our hard story.

Q: Have you always seen God working in the details of your story? Should we be looking for how God is moving or simply trust
that he is?

No, yes, and yes. I wish I could tell you that I have always been aware of God moving in my story. There were seasons in my life, particularly the season after my father died, that I could not sense His presence. Was He moving in the details of my story then? Absolutely. My regret is that I allowed my earthly then vision to cloud my heavenly perspective. Which is why I am always in favor of looking for how God is moving.

I am emotional and fickle—prone to wander if I don’t see results. God knows this about me. It’s always in my best interest to keep my eyes open for God’s fingerprint. But the moments that I can’t see it are faith-builders; those are equally as valuable and help to build our trust in Him. So, yes we should always be looking for God’s movement and yes, we should always simply trust that He is.

Q: You share a suggestion for overcoming stress and anxiety that readers might not expect. What has helped you that you
encourage others to try?

On nights when I am particularly anxious and have trouble going to sleep, a prayer that utilizes God’s gift of imagination often helps to settle my thoughts. I close my eyes and imagine a large field in front of me. Standing in the field are all the things bringing me anxiety, like current stressors in my life, confrontational moments, tensions with loved ones, worry about the unknown ahead, or health concerns. Whatever is renting negative space in my head at the moment, I imagine those things standing in my field.

Then, I imagine a giant hand and forearm lowering down to the field from the sky. Slowly, but steadily, the forearm wipes all my worries on the field away. The field empties and the hand gently opens, revealing soft and gentle wings. I climb into them, curling up to rest in their protection as they fold over me. In my imagination, the forearm, hand, and wings belong to God. I take several deep breaths and begin to meditate on verses about God’s kindness and refuge. This simple prayer exercise helps me to remember that God’s refuge and kindness are more powerful than my anxiety.

Q: What are some creative ways the study can be done in groups since we’re still supposed to be social distancing? Can a
participant get just as much out of the study if doing it alone?

There are a handful of technological helps that will assist in group study during social distancing requirements. A few suggestions are:
Meet with your group virtually via Zoom, Facebook meeting rooms, or Google Meets.
Stay connected with each other, sharing prayer requests and thoughts throughout the week via a private Facebook group or text/email thread.
Take advantage of the resources available from Amplify Media, where you can access Renewed teaching videos, Abingdon Women and other Bible study video sessions, inspirational short videos, and children’s content available anywhere from any device. Amplify Media is a streaming service allowing churches large and small unlimited video access in order to discover, customize, and share diverse resources that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with pleasant weather, meet outside!

And yes, absolutely, a participant can get just as much out of the study doing it alone. The most efficient way to hear the voice of God is to immerse yourself in His Word. There is no substitute for this. I’ve had some of my most profound Bible study experiences sitting alone on my back porch, diligently walking through a study on my own. The group components for Renewed are there to enhance your study, but are certainly not a requirement.

Visit Heather M. Dixon online at therescuedletters.com. She can also be found on Facebook (Heather M. Dixon – The Rescued Letters), Twitter (@rescuedletters), and Instagram (@rescuedletters)

Interview with Heather M. Dixon Author of Renewed

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

What could possibly be better than seeing math and science come together? We love science! I have a kiddo or two who love math – For those who don’t love one or the other – this looked to be a great way to inspire a love of both in all of my kids! We received one year’s access to NatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle from NatureGlo’s eScience. These courses are recommended for for students ages 10 and up but my 9 and 5 year old were fascinated to watch with us. As avid unschoolers, I am always on the look out for great materials that will feed my kids curiosity!

So many good looking courses!

NatureGlo’s eScience was created by Gloria Brooks; she has a bachelors in K-12 education and over 20 years’ experience teaching and facilitating self-directed learning.  She is a reported “Relaxed Eclectic Homeschool & Unschool Coach & Teacher” Someone I would simply love to meet and talk over coffee with. 🙂

Phew…now we only have to stick to the plan. LOL

I have to say, I was (we were) overwhelmed with all the amazingly awesome classes that we were given in this bundle! Every one of my kiddos, from the 5 year old to the 15 year old, found something that they were super excited about. I found a handful as well that I determined to complete with or without my kids. ha

We had tons of toads in our yard this spring so … this was cool!

Who doesn’t love a roadtrip? I was tickled pink to find the NatureGlo’s MathArt & Science Courses RoadMap. It definitely helps to get to our destination when we have a map – I can see a great benefit to that when it comes to learning too! That doesn’t mean we didn’t skip around now and then, but getting started, this was a huge help!

My daughter has been singing, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

We started out with the Introduction to MathArt course; we downloaded the study guide that goes with the course and got started! There is also the option to download the MathArt Slideshow. We got started observing a beautiful bean mosaic which really inspired my girls to search out artistic opportunities with all sorts of stuff outdoors! We are heading to the beach tomorrow and they cannot wait to find shells and rocks to get creative with!

Interested in rocks and minerals? A friend was doing rockhounding last summer and we were really interested as well – it wasn’t until we saw the Introduction to Rockhounding class that we remembered, this was something we wanted to dig into more. We do have a nice collection of rocks from much time at local beaches and parks – We even got a rock tumbler from a friend so it made perfect sense to get started.

My two animal lovers were so excited to jump into the Marine Biology Courses and the Herps (Reptiles & Amphibians) Courses . Like I said, we were kind of all over the place. I really wanted to work through things with the recommended roadmap I mentioned initially but I also love to watch my kids follow their passions. Since we are such animal lovers (my son is saving for a snake now) their excitement to learn all they could, it tends to be a little contagious. 🙂

Since we had to cut down a ton of trees this summer, the examples of concentric rings got my kids busy outside counting the rings on the tree stumps in our yard. I think the highest they found was 32 rings? So much of these courses really motivated my kids to be so much more attentive to things when we are out and about. God’s creation is so amazing and there are so many beautiful things to see within it all if we are willing to slow down and look.

When it comes to science I do believe the most important thing is to teach our kids to slow down. Pay attention to those little details. Ask why. All the time. For us mommas, I think something like this can really be a great way to encourage our kids (families) to come together to learn something fun and new. There are so many great courses to choose from; so many different trails to follow as you work through each one. I am not sure we will complete all of the courses in the time we have this but we are sure going to try.

See what NatureGlo is Up to on Social Media:

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Make sure you click on the banner below so you can read the reviews of other Crew members who used these courses. There are so many amazing ones to choose from!

Homeschool Review Crew

NatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My two boys are getting older and as they do I am more convicted that we need to spend more time focusing on their writing abilities. Neither one likes to write yet both understand the value that comes from being able to clearly share your thoughts in written form. I have always loved Institute for Excellence in Writing® so when we were given the chance to review, Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C  (High School) I did not hesitate to jump onboard. For this review we received a Teacher’s Manual, a Student packet and binder, and an activation code so as to access the streaming lessons by Andrew Pudewa.

It is quick and easy setting up the online access for the video lessons, they even have a video tutorial to help you along the way. I will admit, my boys grumbled when they saw this. I determined to get them started regardless and as they watched the very first video they were thrilled to hear how “awfully tiring” writing really can be. As they watched the first video, I went over the suggestions that were offered in regards to daily breakdowns. We chose to adapt for a two or three day a week program with the understanding that we can definitely do more. My boys do enjoy the many stories and jokes he shares in the lessons. Definitely helps with getting my boys to focus and attend to these writing lessons!

As my boys worked through this course, Andrew Pudewa lead them on a 24-week writing journey, focusing on tasks such as: note taking, outlines, narration, retelling of stories, even formal writing. With a gentle and humorous method of teaching, these longer videos are still engaging and encouraging. I admit it, I was worried when I saw how long these videos were – my oldest tends to have a pretty hard time with longer lessons- grateful for the ease with which these videos are done. He listened and sometimes doodled along (I did have to remind him when instructions were being given here and there) but he did enjoy the interaction in the video and says in the very first lesson, he felt like this would really help him learn how to read and write better. He mentioned great appreciation for things like outlines and key words.

As he uses a white board for notes while teaching, I was so grateful to find those very notes within the Teacher’s Manual. I mean, my boys “hate” writing, so getting them to take notes in each lesson – Not likely. But now we have them easily accessible to reference as much as we need to. Also, I loved the literature suggestions that were provided in each lesson. One thing I have learned through the years, is that it’s a big deal to have notes for my kids to go back to as we learn. Especially when it comes to things like writing. My boys have often fussed about “all these rules”. No need to nag when they can look and see for themselves what they need. For that reason we sure do appreciate the composition checklist that is at the end of each unit.

While I have been a huge fan of Institute for Excellence in Writing® for many years, using their materials as we are able, off and on, I am always so impressed with how simple and stress-free they make writing. Each lesson is clearly laid out, in both the student and teacher manual. This helps our kids know exactly what to expect each day. It also makes it easy for me to keep track of the work they should be doing.

There are so many great lessons being taught within this program, it’s not just about writing. Our kids learn how to get (and stay) organized as they are managing their binder; meeting the goals that are set for each week and ensuring that their writing is kept neatly inside. My younger son even thought it was great that there were stories within this program that he already knew. For him, that gave him hope that all the other stories would be just as good (which they are so far, he says).

While my boys are still pretty reluctant writers, they are definitely gaining a greater appreciation for writing and also for literature. As they work through the units, it isn’t surprising, for me to hear them asking if we can get ahold of the literature suggestion for the unit. Or if they can spend some time learning more about the pirates or whale vomit (I mean who doesn’t want to learn more about that).

This program is so well done; it really just draws our kids in as Andrew Pudewa both instructs but also encourages them, feeling more like a mentor than a teacher. There is a connection you feel as he leads you through the lessons. My boys wish he lived closer and they could meet him and “hang out” because he is “so fun and has such great stories.” I think these are the most valuable and beneficial to have – ones that grow a love for learning, natural curiosity, within our kids. We are still working through this program but we are also really loving it! When it comes to writing, there is nothing better than this.

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Please click on the banner below and read the reviews written by other members of the Review Crew – learn and read about the other levels available – you can even download the first three units for free. Why not check it out?

Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C {Institute for Excellence in Writing® Review}

This time, every year, I feel it.

Darkness about us – seeing the decorations people put up, the costumes and grotesque “decor” people buy masses of – I feel a difference in the air.

Perhaps its because I was once so heavily entrenched in all of that – maybe is because those dark spirits that I feel about me – they were once my playthings. I thank God for delivering me from a place where this darkness (devils and witches and vampires and death) were things that I glorified and sought after.

I praise the Lord that I can sense these things, that I am able to discern these things even when hidden, today. How it pains me too, to remember those that I once spent so much time with – old friends that joined me in those dark arts; magic and fortune telling, seances and channelling – How dangerous these things are and how foolish we were (many still are!)

It sickens me just as much now as it did then, to see how the world glorifies and glamorizes these things. It saddens me even more when I see those who profess to know Christ partaking in these things.

We must be aware; we must choose WHO we serve TODAY. It doesn’t matter what it is called or how innocent those costumes are; it is all still of the devil. See what He says to the Israelites before they entered into the promised land;

Deuteronomy 12:29 (KJV) When Yahweh thy Elohim shall cut off the nations from before thee, where thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they are destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so to Yahweh thy Elohim: for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hateth, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever thing I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add to it, nor diminish from it.
Do not mix the cups and partake of the two tables. Turn to Jesus. It is so very clear, it ALL matters!

Its amazing, so many of these holidays, when you dig into the history of it all there is nothing “Christian” about any of it.

All you find is demons, witchcraft, hatred, evil, idolatry. Some Christians tried to “Christianize” it to appease others, to make the church more palatable for outsiders, but who was really converted here?

It seems to me that it was the idolaters that converted the Christians!

Believers are supposed to set the standard, not imitate the world and have a “Christian” version of everything like we see so often, and is so common today. Even things like Trunk or Treat really – we are called to come OUT of Babylon. Then we wonder why the world doesn’t take us seriously and want what we have We say we are set apart yet we do something that is so similar….

Why Darkness?

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

It isn’t often that my boys come across a program that they absolutely love! Since that’s the case I have been counting my blessings that we have a full year’s access to the Coding for Kids Annual Membership from Simply Coding. Since my boys just love their time on the screens, this gives me such an assurance that their time online isn’t being “wasted.”

I admit that I tend to be one of those anti-screen folks. I have always felt there are so many activities that offer them more opportunity and learning however, I am working on learning for myself what it really means to be on screens. I am finding that there truly are so many forms of learning that take place within video games, through coding and all that other technological stuff that I really don’t understand but that seems to just engulf my kids for hours on end.

They even offer challenges!

So what are we learning? My younger son is learning (and experiencing for himself) the course to Build Your Own Computer. Having recently discovered the joy of computer gaming he is eager to build his very own super computer. This course has been a great lesson in how to do that.

Having an old computer made it extra interesting for him!

Being that he also enjoys Minecraft, he has even been able to explore Minecraft Mods in Java, another thing he has been very interested in. As much as he loves to game he also loves to create and design. He also plans to get started with Python, Websites, 3D Game Design and Virtual Reality. Who knows where this will lead him!

As for my oldest son, he is a gamer as well. He has always been interested in coding, designing apps and games and has really wanted to start his own YouTube channel. After taking some courses on film making this summer he actually got a very nice camera for both photography and creating his own films. He has started with stop motion animation but the many classes he found here were great inspiration to keep on.

The format of the lessons is great! Both of my boys agree that the videos are a perfect length; information is put forth simply and without and frills.

I even sat in on a couple of the courses (mostly digital photography) and I especially loved learning all about how the camera works! It’s fun to get those diagrams that show what is where and explain what it all does too.

Each class has a syllabus you can print if you like. Great for reminders and for the tests that come after each lesson!

After each video there is a quiz, just to be sure that we really understand what was in the lesson, before the next one us unlocked. I love taking photos, as do all of my children, so it was fun to work through so many of these courses with my kids and learn and try new things to have even more fun taking pictures wherever we go!

This really is an amazing program for any “older” kids who have an interest in computers and all things surrounding them! For those gamers, let them learn and design some games. For those interested in YouTube, photography, videography – these lessons are so very complete too. What better way to get your tech loving kids actively learning? I mean, I know there is a ton they gain from so many things they do and play on these screens, but this can really help them to go to that next level. You never know what you can do until you try. If you have kids who want to try, this is definitely something they need to experience!

Simply Coding is on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplycoding/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/SimplycodingOrg/featured

Many other members of the Review Crew have been using this program in their homes so don’t forget to click on the banner below and see how this has been inspiring learners in their homes!

Simply Coding {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Want to see something really neat? I recently was given the chance to explore My Teaching Library, Download Club. What is that you ask? This is only an unlimited membership to so many great downloads/resources. We aren’t really “into” worksheets BUT every one of us really has fallen in love with this! We have this membership for a full year so we will surely be busy feeding our many curiosities! With four children ranging in age from five to fifteen – I am always excited to see one thing that has something for all of my children.

So much good stuff!

With my older boys I utilized more of the math pages. My oldest struggles with Algebra right now; my younger son loves math worksheets so it was nice to have lots of new ones for him to do. Add to that, we found a great set of printables to assist in learning all about the 50 states. Ever since our debacle surrounding the country (or was it state) of Georgia, we have been working more purposefully on learning about the many places that compromise this world we live in.

My younger son fell in love with A Day In History downloads (unfortunately there were only a few) and this really got him curious about what DID happen “today” in history. I say that is a pretty cool thing to take up. I mean, imagine all the things you can learn from exploring what happened (different places around the world even) each day. What a fun way to learn and explore life right?

My girls are always excited for this kind of thing. They love animals. And drawing. They love curling up listening to a good book (especially if animals are the main characters in the story) so we were thrilled to find a few different things to use together. From learning to draw baby animals, to exploring new stories. Anything that allows for a creative spirit!

Another favorite thing (mine, really) are the Bible copywork pages. They have them for the Book of Proverbs, also memory verses for boys and girls (one for the boys and one for the girls). There is an amazing pack of materials on character traits (this is a must have!) which is 40 weeks in all. I have to admit, I enjoyed using the cursive pages myself – new to calligraphy and hand lettering – Just like writing with fancy pens sometimes. Plus, as I do this, my girls come near to see what pretty thing I am working on – Sometimes, that’s what it’s all about – following my passions so my children can see and choose if they shall come alongside.

Who says cooking doesnt count?

Did I mention (I don’t think I did) that this has a fabulous section in their website that includes knitting, quilting, a recipe book for young girls – There are French, Spanish and Sign Language materials. Since I am now homeschooling high school – it is so very helpful to find ready-to-print lists of skills and concepts (by subject) to teach from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. If there is any fear or anxiety, these can be so helpful in silencing that voice that perhaps says, we are not doing enough.

I am very much enjoying this website (as well as my children) while we explore together so many fun things. We definitely aren’t the worksheet type, but I love, even if we don’t complete them all, how much there is to encourage us to learn new some new things. Being able to download books for us all to enjoy such as Beowulf (for the boys), The American Frugal Housewife (for momma) and Shiloh (for my girls).

Whatever you may be looking for, this is one of those resources that you really should have. I have found this to be a great way to encourage my kids in their learning as some days I just have them choose what they would like to do for the day. Whatever they choose, I know it will be something that will encourage them to seek and find something new. Learning to learn is what it is all about and this is definitely that, for every age and stage.

Find My Teaching Library on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MyTeachingLibrary/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/homeschool_mtl
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyndaackert/my-teaching-library/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLCFIasgcKaLD5lHu2x6bNA

Don’t forget to click on the banner below; lots of Crew members were given the opportunity to use this membership as well and share their thoughts!

My Teaching Library {Review}