Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Home School in the Woods Review

I have been a fan of Home School in the Woods for a long time now, so I was thrilled when I was chosen to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study
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.
The Renaissance & Reformation study has 25 lessons, or “stops” that are designed be completed over 8-12 weeks, depending on how many lessons per week you decide to do. Each stop includes all the information needed for that section. However, if your child finds a topic particularly interesting, there is a book list included to help you dig deeper.
For each stop there is a Guide Book Text, which includes all the facts and information you need for the lesson. There is also the Travel Itinerary that gives you a list of the activities for that stop, as well as all the instructions for each activity. Some of the activities for each stop include:
  • Scrapbook of Sights-souvenirs to make along the way
  • Snapshot Moments in History timeline
  • Renaissance Reporter Newspaper
  • Wish You Were Here postcards
  • Dining Out Guide-a chance to try out some recipes of this era
  • and more!

How We Used It:

There is a TON to this study! The first thing I did, after buying some fun colorful paper, was spend some quality time with my printer. The first stop was the Introduction, and included setting up a lot of the pieces we would use throughout the study. I found it easier to print a few stops at a time instead of trying to print the entire guide at once. The first stop definitely includes the most pages to print, though, as it includes the Passport and Luggage folder (fun!), timeline pages and figures, the newspaper pages, as well as the first lapbook project. So I printed the first six stops, and got everybody all set up and organized with their own binder.

We would start each lesson by reading the Guide Book text out loud. This is where the teaching of the material came in. Next we looked at the Travel Itinerary to see what activities to do. Since I printed everything ahead of time, all the pages we needed were in my binder ready to go. These activities are what brought the reading alive.

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I love that everything we needed was included in one place. All I had to do was print all the pages, and request some books from the library. (Just for fun because we like books. The Guide Book was thorough and informative. You don’t need anything more. Plus, there was a book list. I can’t resist a good book list to choose from. ) The thing we loved most about this study, in addition to the beautiful graphics and the overall visual appeal of it,  is the great variety of activities. The girls have written newspaper articles and ads, listened to audio tours, created art, done postcards and fun lapbook pieces—all while learning about the Renaissance & Reformation. Instead of just reading about it, they got to immerse themselves in the time period and learn through hands-on activities that have helped reinforce their learning. They call this study the “fun” history, which I think says it all!

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HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation is available as a download for $33.95. We loved this study so much, I’m looking forward to trying Home School in the Woods newest Passport to History: Ancient Greece next. Be sure to look for Ancient Rome in 2018, too! You will not be disappointed!

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

I love you day is kind of a big deal around here. While we don’t buy into all the commercialized hype that comes along with it, Valentine’s day is our special day of reminding each other how much they are loved.



We woke up to the dining room all beautifully decorated. Don took the morning off from work so he could cook us all some breakfast. Even though he doesn’t believe we need a holiday to celebrate the love we have for each other every day, it was so nice to see him make such a huge effort for his girls. Did I mention we love I love you day? I think he secretly likes it, too.



Katie also got flowers. From a boy. I know. Thankfully he’s a sweet boy from church that we really like, since she was quite pleased by the gesture. Ahh, life with an almost 13 year old. I am so not ready for this.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


As a homeschooling family, we try to be mindful of the fact that always being together doesn’t necessarily translate into quality time spent together. It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do lists and the-crazy running around to get to the next thing on our schedule- days. Since I’m a compulsive documenter of all things, it was nice to look through my pictures and see the evidence of time well spent. That we do actually find the time to slow down and just be together, even in the midst of the chaos.


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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

What we’re up to

We’ve been busy around here! In Science we’re still working on our cell unit. We made pizza cell models and did a classification experiment with pasta.

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We’re cruising through Volume 4 of Story of the World. We’ve learned about Italy’s Resurrection, the Taiping Rebellion, the American Civil War, and the Dominion of Canada, to name a few.


We’ve also been reading more great books: Nory Ryan’s Song, The Good Master, The Hobbit, and Homeless Bird. Katie finished a 6 week long unit on writing a research paper, and Frankie has been practicing news articles and shorter essays.

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Cooking is one skill we wanted to hone this year, so the girls have been taking turns making supper. There’s a talent show coming up at church, so our house has been filled with lots of music and singing lately. On her days off Sam has been giving them vocal pointers. It’s so nice to how far she’s come and how much she has learned while working on her Theater degree.


As Katie was heading out for youth group it struck me how grown up she is becoming. I had to actually stop her and take her picture because in another minute she will be an adult and off on her own. I don’t know how my precocious two year old suddenly morphed into this almost 13 year old standing before me, but it happened way too fast. Can we just stop and take a moment, please?

How was your week?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our Week in Review

This week we started a science unit on cells. In history we moved into book 4 of The Story of the World and learned about The Crimean War, British Invasions, and the Persian-Russian invasion of Afghanistan. We’re also reading some really great books: The Banner in The Sky, Betsy and the Emperor, and Around the World in 80 Days. While I don’t love the pace that Sonlight tries to move us through The Story of the World, I absolutely love the literature. We’ve read so many great books we may not have otherwise heard about. Since we’re a family of book nerds, Sonlight is such a great fit for our family.


Celebrating National Hat Day at the library. Everyone who checked out books got a free hat!


My dad and Mary came for a visit to celebrate Christmas with us all. They gave the girls awesome sewing kits that they were super excited about, (hah, not that you can tell by their faces in this picture!)  We don’t get together as a family nearly enough, so it was a really good time of catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

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Today is Don’s birthday, and he and Francesca had a blast with friends ice fishing for the afternoon.

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While they were doing that, Katie and I spent some time playing with all her cool new sewing stuff. She made this great pillow in a couple of hours all by herself, with just a tiny bit of help from me!


Katie also made her daddy a birthday cake to enjoy after our birthday spaghetti and meatballs. She accidentally used food coloring instead of the writing gel, but we didn’t laugh at her-much. It was a delicious cake, and we had a nice relaxing night celebrating.

How was your week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: SchoolhouseTeachers.com


High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

I was so excited to learn that the first thing I’d be reviewing upon my return to the Homeschool Review Crew was the Yearly Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. With 300+ classes for Preschool through High School,  I spent days just exploring the site and getting a feel for it. Once I knew my way around, the girls and I chose a couple of classes to try out and dove right in.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}


SchoolhouseTeachers.com offers so much, I don’t even know where to start! In addition to the 300+ classes (with online, video, and printable formats), there is a treasure trove of resources available. There are tools to help make homeschooling easier, such as:

There’s a great Just for Parents section that has classes and unit studies covering everything from homeschooling to marriage, parenting to menu planning. Bible studies, cleaning, and organization; there is something for everyone.

In the Resources section you’ll find encouragement in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Resources, and practical help in a monthly menu with a recipe for every day of the year. In the Planning Section you’ll find tools like The Schoolhouse Planners (I love these!), printable calendars, and course information. I could go on indefinitely sharing with you all that’s offered, but let me tell you how we used it.


High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

The courses vary in length from a few weeks to a year or more. You can browse by grade and by subject. For a website with so much content, I found that it was intuitive and easy to navigate. Since we are in the middle of the year and our curriculum in most subjects, I decided to look for classes to supplement our studies. The girls have been wanting to learn sign language for quite some time now, so we chose ASL Adventures. We also chose Drawing with Realism, as Art is one of those subjects that seems to fall through the cracks for us no matter how many times I decide it will be a priority.

For both classes the first thing I did was read through the Lessons Plans. These contained the class length, detailed lesson plans (both of these classes have a 3 days/week plan), and instructions. Next, I visited the Class Lesson page for each class and printed the materials we’d need.

ASL Adventures is taught by Sandra Heflin who has taught Deaf Education and Interpreting for more than 40 years and has also worked as an interpreter. Everything needed to complete this course is included on the website, with a video to watch and printables each week.

On the first day of the lesson we watched the video together, pausing as we went along to practice the signs as she taught them to us. When the video lesson was over, we used the Vocabulary sheet to quiz each other to help further reinforce the new words. Throughout the week we took turns practicing the new vocabulary as well as the previous week’s vocabulary. In the lesson printables there were games, quizzes and other various worksheets for each week as well. Part of the reason my two girls chose this class was because our oldest daughter has taken a couple of ASL classes at college. It was really fun for us to show her the signs we learned, and to have her to make sure we were doing them right. We didn’t finish the course during the review period, but plan to continue on until we do.

Drawing with Realism is taught by Jan Bower who has painted hundreds of commissioned portraits and illustrated sixteen children’s books. For each lesson there is a video and printables, but I did need to purchase some art supplies that we didn’t already have on hand. You draw one item per lesson, and each lesson is broken up into four weeks. The first lesson taught us how to draw a realistic apple.

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This class was really open and go. For each lesson we just collected our supplies and got to work. We would pause the video often as we followed each step. This course is suggested for middle to high school, but my fifth grader had no problem keeping up. My seventh grader, who has some artistic talent, found this class to be interesting and challenging. I have no artistic ability at all, and was able to draw an apple that mostly looked how it was supposed to. We really liked her soft-spoken, easy to follow lessons and greatly enjoyed our time spent drawing together.

I look forward to using SchoolhouseTeachers a lot in the coming year. There are some great history videos I want to incorporate into our current studies, and more art classes that look fun. I think for the remainder of this school year I will take advantage of all of the Electives, and then try to incorporate more as I plan for the upcoming school year.

Overall, I think SchoolhouseTeachers membership is a phenomenal deal. Right now, with the coupon code CHRISTMAS it is $9.95 per month, or $90 a year with the code CHRISTMASYEAR. These codes are only good until January 15. In mid-January, SchoolhouseTeachers is having a price increase. The promotion is to lock in now at the $9.95/month rate so that you save 50% on the new prices. In a few days this same monthly service will be $19.95/month.

To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members thought, click below.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com} 
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