Thursday, April 27, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Drive Thru History® “The Gospels” Review

We study the Bible regularly with our girls. We know the Gospels and the stories of Jesus- of His birth, His life, and His resurrection-by heart. What a blessing it was to receive Drive Thru History®'s new series Drive Thru History®-"The Gospels"! It is one thing to know the stories and picture them in your head, but it’s an entirely new experience being able to see the places we’ve read about so often.

Drive Thru History The Gospels


In Drive Thru History®-“The Gospels” Dave Stotts takes you on an adventure to over 50 ancient sites in Israel to weave the riveting tale of Jesus from the locations recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This DVD set includes eighteen visually stunning episodes, each about 30 minutes long, for over nine hours of content. There is also a beautiful hardcover study guide, with gorgeous photos and discussion questions to facilitate thought-provoking conversations. 


  1. The Historical Landscape
  2. The Announcements
  3. Jesus is Born
  4. Jesus Grows Up
  5. Jesus Starts His Ministry
  6. Jesus Returns to Galilee
  7. Jesus Begins His Miracles
  8. Jesus Teaches with Authority
  9. The Sermon on the Mount
  10. Jesus Travels to the Sea of Galilee
  11. Jesus Travels North with His Apostles
  12. A Final Trip to Jerusalem
  13. Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
  14. The Last Supper
  15. The Trial of Jesus
  16. The Crucifixion of Jesus
  17. The Resurrection of Jesus
  18. Who is Jesus?

What we thought:

We LOVE this series! It was really interesting to be able to see so many of the places we’ve read about in the Bible. It’s one thing to picture Mary giving birth to Jesus in a stable, it’s another to see what the place and the manger actually looked like. (Interesting fact: the manger was probably a feeding trough made of stone, not of wood like we always see depicted.) Dave Stotts does a wonderful job making such an important piece of history come alive. He doesn’t just tell the story of the Gospels, he also shares the history, archaeology, geography, and art of the time to paint the big picture and let viewers understand and experience things in a whole new light. A master storyteller, Dave engages you with his humor and his expertise. His passion and enthusiasm are evident, and make for episodes so interesting you want to just sit and devour them all at once.


Although we wanted to sit and watch every single episode in a row, we had decided ahead of time that we would use this as a family bible study. Once a week we sat down together after dinner and watched an episode. We paused as we went along to discuss things,(Can you believe they built the Herodium without any modern machines?!) and used the study guide afterwards for further discussion. There were great open-ended questions like, “What is so cool and compelling about the “Moses Seat” discovered at Chorazin?” or “Discuss the beauty and importance of the Sea of Galilee at the time of Jesus.” Have I mentioned how beautiful the study guide is? It truly is gorgeous.


Drive Thru History®-“The Gospels” is for everyone: bible studies, church groups, and even for family night enjoyment. I cannot say enough good things about this series-you’ll just have to buy it and see for yourself how amazing it is!

Some of my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members were blessed with the opportunity to review this as well. Be sure to see what they had to say!

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}


Check out Drive Thru History® on social media!


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Today was a beautiful day spent with family, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. The weather was unseasonably warm, the food was delicious, and the company entertaining. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!


At the sunrise service, the sun came up right at the conclusion of the message. It was breathtaking to behold God’s majesty in His creation.


After our Easter casserole and cinnamon buns, the girls opened their bags. I gave up on baskets this year. They’re all old enough now that they no longer carry around buckets with all of their worldly possessions on a daily basis, so Easter baskets just sat unused and ultimately tossed. These bags seemed like a good solution.


On their way to dance at the Easter service at church!


Estella loved Lola and Ben’s buckets. I tried telling auntie we got them an Easter kitten, but she wasn’t having it. (I don’t know why. Beasty is such a delightful cat. Hah, notice the nickname?)




Benny lovin’ on his Frankie!


This was about 4:00 pm. After getting up at 5:30 am to go the sunrise service, she was running out of steam! After a super crazy busy week leading up to Easter, it was so nice to spend the rest of the afternoon just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

How was your Easter?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew-CompuScholar, Inc. Review

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy

My husband has a degree in Computer Information  Systems, and I’m a wanna-be computer geek, so technology is well used around here. As our girls get older, they are getting more and more interested in all things technology related. Our 7th grader has recently been learning about computers from the inside out with the course Digital Savvy by CompuScholar, Inc.

Digital Savvy is a one year (two semester) course for students in grades 6-12 who have basic computer operation skills, that covers the required topics in most Information Technology classes.

The course content is presented in a multi-media format, utilizing videos, written text, quizzes and exams. There is also an activity at the end of each chapter to allow students a hands-on way to apply their new knowledge.

There are twenty-five chapters with a suggested pace of 33 weeks. You can easily adapt that schedule to fit your family’s preference. For each chapter lesson there is a video lesson and lesson text. There are three to five lessons for each chapter, with a quiz, exam, and a practice project. Topics covered include:

  • Fundamentals of Computer Hardware
  • Fundamentals of Computer Software
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Files
  • Computer Maintenance and Troubleshooting
  • Computer Networks
  • Search Engines
  • Computer Security
  • Word Processing
  • Spreadsheet Programs
  • Presentation Programs
  • Database Technology
  • Project Management and Teamwork
  • Digital Images
  • Internet Communications
  • Social Media
  • Creating Web Pages
  • Images and Animation
  • Programming Concepts
  • Digital Logic
  • Careers and Professional Skills

There is a teacher and a student account. From the teacher account, you can access a gradebook for each of your students to track their progress, and a teacher guide and quiz key for each lesson. There are also other useful tools like tutorials to teach you how to use the online system.

How We Used It:


Katie has used this course pretty independently. She logs in and watches the video lesson, reads the lesson text, and then completes the lesson quiz. Next she does the activity, and once she feels confident in the material, she takes the lesson exam. So far she’s learned about introductory things like types of computers, hardware, and peripherals. She’s also learned about software, applications, web browsers and operating systems. (My nerd heart is so proud!)

Sometimes I sit and watch the video lesson with her so we can discuss what she’s learning, but for the most part she works through this all on her own. I check her gradebook regularly to keep an eye on her progress, and am always pleased to find her doing so well. I love that she’s learning valuable information that she can immediately apply to her daily life, and she’s learning it herself! It really helps build self-confidence at this age to be in charge of her lessons, and it gives her a great feeling of accomplishment when she starts to really understand how the technology around her works.

CompuScholar, Inc. did a fantastic job creating a course that is accessible enough for a student to be able to learn independently. The videos are well done, and the course content is exceptional. My techy husband loves to come home at night and talk with Katie about what she learned that day. When she finishes with Digital Savvy, she will be a knowledgeable and competent computer user. As a busy homeschool mom with kids in different grades, it’s such a blessing to have quality courses like this available that teach kids important skills with minimal work on my part. We’re looking forward to trying another course as soon as she’s completed this one!

CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. offers other great courses, such as Web Design and Java Programming, both of which are being reviewed by my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members. Be sure to click below to read all about both courses, and be sure visit CompuScholar, Inc. on social media:   @compuscholar


Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}
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Saturday, April 8, 2017


For the past couple of months, Katie and Francesca have been rehearsing three times a week at the local community college for James and the Giant Peach. All of their hard work and endless hours have paid off, because it’s show time!!




Production week is a lot. I’ve been really proud of their hard work and commitment to this show. As soon as this one wraps, they immediately start rehearsal at their favorite theater for a new play in June. It’s a crazy schedule, but so rewarding to see them doing what they love!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Memoria Press Review

I really love the classical model of education. Since the beginning of our homeschooling journey it has been my plan to have my girls read all of the great books. Even though Katie is a strong reader and probably ready, I’ve been hesitant to jump in, feeling a bit inadequate having never read any of the books myself.  The Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set by Memoria Press gave me the tools to start her on the road to reading these classics with confidence.

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set

The Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set includes both The Iliad and The Odyssey books and a teacher guide, student guide, and instructional DVD’s for each book.

There are 24 books (chapters) in The Iliad and in The Odyssey. The Student Guide for each book includes a description of places and characters, comprehension questions, quotations, and discussion questions.

The Teacher Guide for each book includes:

  • Background and Drill: This gives you some background and insight on the book

  • Discussion Help: Gives you a simple answer to the Discussion questions in the Student text. I often used these answers as a jumping off point for discussions.

  • Teacher Notes: Provides information for your student to focus on for the test. People to be familiar with, comprehension questions to focus on, and quotations are included here. There are three tests for The Iliad and three for The Odyssey.

  • Essays and Assignments: Additional optional assignments for further enrichment.

In the Appendix you’ll find helpful tools like genealogies, character references, and terminology. We used these frequently throughout our reading. The teacher guide also gives you the answers for the comprehension questions found in the Student Guide.

The Instructional DVD’s are an invaluable resource in reading these books. Mr. Brooks does a phenomenal job of teaching the background and culture of each book in a way that brings the story to life and helps the student more fully understand what is happening. 


 How we used it:

Since Katie is such a strong reader, my initial plan was to let her read each book (chapter) herself and then discuss it together afterward. Because of the language, I decided to read it aloud to her instead. I wanted to be sure she really got what was happening, and since this is a difficult read I knew that she’d get more out of it this way. We took our time and spread the reading out over a couple of days, taking time to look up definitions and characters and really dig in and discuss what was happening.

When we finished reading we watched the DVD lesson together. These lessons reinforced our discussions when we understood things well, and helped us see things more clearly when we weren’t completely grasping what was going on. Katie had some good laughs about my constant mispronunciation of the names. I think this piece of the program is really what tied it all together for us.

After the DVD, we talked about the discussion questions in the student guide together. Having read the book and watched the DVD together, I was able to help Katie explore the questions further than if she had read it on her own.

Overall, I think The Iliad & The Odyssey Complete Set gives parents all of the tools they need to confidently teach their kids about these books.

Memoria Press has so many other great products! Click below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review had to say about them!

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}


Visit Memoria Press on social media!


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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Casting Crowns!

Music really ministers to my soul. We love Casting Crowns, and go to their concert every time they venture up here to the Northeast. This year is the first time we took the girls with us, and it was so cool to watch them loving the show as much as I do!


All night I kept looking at this beauty at my side, wondering how she is such a teenager already.


Letting their light shine!



Some days I miss the time when they were little; when there was nothing better than snuggling together and singing a song or reading a book. But in this new season I’m learning to enjoy watching them grow into who God made them to be, and all the cool things we get to do together now that they’re older. As much as I long to keep them little forever, I guess I will embrace this new season and savor each day, as I know all too well that these days, too, will pass too quickly and before I know it they’ll all be grown and on their own.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Creating a Masterpiece Review

Art is one of those subjects that always seems to slip through the cracks, no matter my good intentions. Thanks to the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece, we have been able to incorporate creating beautiful art into our weekly lessons with ease.

Creating a Masterpiece

Created by Sharon Hofer, Creating a Masterpiece is an online program that uses video instruction to teach children technique that will equip them to produce excellent results. The lessons give step-by-step instruction, enabling students to create masterpieces they can be proud of.

There are six levels, ranging from Beginner to Level 5, and an Art In History level.

  • The Beginner level is designed for ages four and up, and the projects can be completed in an average of forty-five minutes to an hour. These lessons contain fun, introductory instruction using a variety of media including water color, charcoal, oil pastel, and more.

  • Levels 1-5 progress through more advanced projects. The projects are divided up over three to seven lessons that take an average of forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to complete. Each level builds on previously learned skills, while adding new techniques and medium to explore. Some mediums used include acrylic painting, sculpture, silk dying, ink, and more.

  • Art In History teaches students how to create projects from different time periods. These projects have different levels of difficulty. Some can be completed by 6-9 year olds, older students will be able to complete them all.

In addition to the video instruction, each lesson includes a downloadable PDF supply list, a link to purchase supplies online, helpful tips, and a high resolution image of the project.


Our favorite project so far has been sculpting a turtle. Located in Level 1, this project was divided over four lessons, with each of those lessons broken down into two to four sections.

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Once we had all the supplies we needed, all we had to do was set the laptop up on the table and we were ready to create. For this project every member of our family joined in! After working through all four sections of lesson 1, we had created the bodies of our turtles-arms, legs, head, and shell. In lesson 2 we fine-tuned the parts, and added some texture. In lesson 3 we finished adding texture, working on the shell this time. In lesson 4 we brought our turtles to life with some paint!

This project was time consuming because we had to wait for the clay to dry completely before we could paint them, and then we had to wait for the paint and then the crackle to dry before seeing our finished results. Although we had fun creating our turtles and wanted to just work steadily on them, it was definitely worth the wait to do them well! Everyone enjoyed this project tremendously and took great pride in what they created!

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We also tried our hand at oil pastels, creating a winter cabin on velour paper. This was done in one lesson broken up into four sections, and we finished it in a day. I was a little nervous about using the velour paper, it was so white and soft I was afraid I’d mess it up. I was glad to find out that Sharon had us draw the cabin on paper first, and then trace over it onto the velour. I had my doubts that I would be able to make my picture look anything remotely resembling what she was doing, but I was pleased to see at the end that it actually did. I think that’s what I love most about this program. It let’s people like me, with absolutely no natural artistic ability, create a beautiful work of art.

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There were so many things I loved about Creating a Masterpiece. I appreciated that all of the supplies needed for a project were linked to a website where I could order everything right online. It was worth it to me to pay for high quality materials that I knew we could use for more than the project they were ordered for. I really liked the way the projects were broken up into manageable chunks. My 10 year old loses interest in things fairly quickly, and she stayed engaged throughout each lesson. I love that this gave us the opportunity to spend quality time as a family creating art together. I think the thing I like most about this program was seeing what the girls were taking away from it. They used what they learned and explored their own creativity. How cool is that? Although we’ve done all the projects together so far, the website and the lessons are so easy to follow that I’m going to just let them run with it on their own now. I can’t wait to see what they try next! Overall, Creating a Masterpiece was a big hit here, and we were so blessed and thankful to use it.



Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Visit Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook:

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