Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Home School in the Woods Á La Carte Projects Review

We have been big fans of Home School in the Woods for years now, so we were super excited to get working on the American History Newspaper Collection from their Á La Carte products!

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

A homeschooling family of six, the Pak family started Home School in the Woods in 2002 when they published their first set of timeline figures. From there they branched out, creating more and more products that help make history come alive- making them a go to hands-on history company for homeschooling families with multiple product lines.

As the name implies, Á La Carte products are single projects sold individually, instead of being included in a larger project. How fun is that? Á La Carte products cover Ancient history, World history, Early America, 19th Century America, 20-21st Century America and Bible times using engaging, hands-on projects like Timelines, File Folder games, Lapbooks, Newspapers, and more. There is literally something for everyone! Whatever time period you happen to be studying, you will be able to find something fun to enhance your learning!

The American History Newspaper Collection is 50 pages long and written for grades 3-8. Included in the collection are: American Beginnings collection (Explorer and Colonial history), A Young Country collection (American Revolution and early U.S. history), The Camp Kettle (American Civil War), The Industrial Times (late 19th and early 20th century history), and Frontline News (World War II history).

How We Used It, and What We Thought:
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This was super easy to get started. Once I downloaded the PDF, I just printed all the pages and we were ready to go. (I used a cream colored textured paper to give it a more authentic look.) We have been studying American history all year, so this came at a perfect time for us. I let each of the girls choose which newspaper they wanted to start with. Katie chose The Camp Kettle, and Francesca chose The Town Crier (part of the American Beginnings Collection). Both covered a time period we’d already finished with in school, so they used our reference book and worked through the articles and illustrations on their own. Reading their work was a helpful tool for me to see how much they retained from our lessons. These newspapers are a great way to review what they’ve already learned, while getting in some creative writing and drawing time. They also give us a beautiful record of learning to have at the end of the year. So many possibilities!

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Home School in the Woods generously allowed members of the Homeschool Review Crew to choose different products from the Á La Carte line. Be sure to click below to read all about their many offerings. There’s tons! I think when we’re finished with the newspapers we’re going to try The Bombing of Pearl Harbor Lap Book Project and the Get Your Kicks on Route 66 File Folder Game. World War II and Pearl Harbor were of deep interest to my girls when we studied them earlier this year, so I think the lap book would be a great way to enhance our learning, and the file folder game looks like a fun way to review and test their knowledge. Go check them out! What looks good to you?

À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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Friday, March 2, 2018


Friday, February 23, 2018

Baking Adventures

We’ve got a budding pastry chef here. Francesca has decided she’s going to culinary school and from there she will open her own bakery. Today she wanted to try her hand at pate a choux dough to make cream puffs with a vanilla pastry cream. So fancy!



She patiently stood and continuously stirred the pastry cream for 20 minutes. It’s a good thing she had her daddy as a helper, because I have no patience for that! I always cheat when I’m making a roux and turn the heat up to thicken it faster, which would definitely not have worked here.


Piping out the cream puffs

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Filling the finished puffs. How cool is it that this dough hollows out while baking?


The finished product! She dusted the tops with powdered sugar and then drizzled chocolate over them. I was so impressed that the dough and the filling came out absolutely perfect on her first attempt! I love that my husbands strengths perfectly compliment my wild and impulsive girl. He’s so patient, encouraging, and just laid back (I am so not laid back. Ahhh! Follow the recipe!) with her and he gives her the freedom to embrace her (messy!)creativity. And I can tell she appreciates him because she told him he can be her assistant when she opens her bakery. What an awesome duo!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Bytes of Learning Review

The older my girls get the more important it is for them to have solid typing skills, so we were super excited to try out the UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning.

UltraKey Online Family Edition
UltraKey is an online subscription-based typing program that uses videos, animation, and voice-supported instruction to make learning to type fun.

The first thing you do after purchasing your subscription is login to your free parent account to enroll students and set goals for each one. You can also choose to let the system set the goals for each student, or let the student set their own goal. Each goal is defined as speed, accuracy, or both. From the parent dashboard you can also restrict or lock student choices, let the student make their own choices, monitor each students progress, view reports and make certificates. The parent dashboard gives you a LOT of options, which is great for giving each student an individualized experience. While there are a lot of options to control, the interface is clean and easy to use.


The student page is really visually appealing and also easy to navigate. Across the top are all the buttons needed to navigate through all of the different sections of the program. On the left are Keys to Success: My Goal, My Settings, My Learning, and My Reports. There are also Helpful Resources such as Intro videos, Stretching videos,(which are incorporated into the lessons. I thought this was a great way to remind students to get up and move after sitting in front of the computer for a while!) and a User Guide. It’s set up so well that even your youngest students will be able to use this with ease.

         Capture1  Helpful resources

Once your student is set up, they log into their student account and complete the Posture module (If you set their goal for them. If not, there are options to choose from to set the goal first.) This includes a short video, some slides modeling good posture, and a puzzle to complete to assess understanding of the importance of proper posture. Next, they move on to the Fingers module. In this module they learn correct striking technique, the names of fingers, and correct hand position.This prepares them for the upcoming lessons.

After completing the Posture and Fingers modules, your student is ready to move onto Lessons. Each lessons covers learning numbers, letters, or special characters, and then has practice words and practice sentences. Once they’re done with the lesson there is a Skill Check area that corresponds with each lesson. In the Skill Check area there are different passages to choose from based on the students interest.

   lesson and main page viewlessonsskill check

There is also a Typing Forum that has typing tests and free typing, and a Game Zone filled with fun games to help your student practice their typing skills.

              free typing     game zone

What We Thought:
My 11 and 13 year old girls really love this program! The combination of the visually appealing interface and fun lessons make it something they actually want to do every day. We have seen an increase in their accuracy and speed in the weeks that we’ve been using the program. They are almost at the end now, so our plan is to have them start over with new speed and accuracy goals to help them continue to improve.

There are UltraKey Online Family Subscriptions for 3, 5, and 8 user accounts, and the price ranges from $29.95 to $49.95 per year. Be sure to click below to see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say!
UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

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Friday, February 16, 2018


Somehow we have as many pets as we do humans living here. When Sam moved out, we became outnumbered. Thankfully she has returned and restored balance to the force.


They love schoolwork almost as much as Francesca loves to wear a sweatshirt backwards and use the hood as a kitten carrier…


…and only half as much as they like napping and cuddling. (It’s kind of ridiculous.)


Here’s Lucy’s scratch-free cat carrier…


and Riley’s serious face. (Is that the mailman?)

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Finally, who do you think is smarter? Professor Pup or Study Buddy? We think it may be a tie!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

IF:Gathering 2018

IF:Gathering desires to disciple the next generation of women to live out God’s calling on their lives. We all get tired. Sometimes we even start to question if following Jesus is worth it. At IF:Gathering 2018 we’re gathering to be reminded that we weren’t given a spirit of fear or doubt or insecurity. We’re going to encourage each other to keep following Jesus with perseverance because HE IS WORTH IT.

This weekend 80 women from my tiny community gathered together to watch the simulcast. In five years this is the largest gathering we’ve seen in our area. For the past couple of years I watched from my friend’s couch with a small group of friends. The first couple of years I watched at home on my laptop. It’s amazing to see what God is up to!

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IF:Gathering’s mission is to Gather, Equip, and Unleash women to disciple people who disciple people. Although the live simulcast is done for the year, you can still purchase the download to view at home. Or better yet, gather your people and watch it together! You can also gather monthly over a meal with IF:Table. In the picture below are ladies from two different IF:Tables sharing what gathering together monthly has meant to them. So good!There are also IF:Equip studies! What are you waiting for?


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