Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day!

As my girls get older, our Mother’s Day celebrations seem to get more elaborate. There was much secret planning and shopping before the big day,and yesterday I was surprised with beautiful decorations, thoughtful gifts,and delicious food that included a scrumptious homemade strawberry cake for dessert. I love how well my family loves me, and am so very blessed to call them mine.





Friday, May 4, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew:CodeWizardsHQ Review

Did you know that computing jobs are the #1 source of new wages in the U.S., with 71% of all new jobs in STEM in computing? Coding is a fundamental skill for kids to learn with technology all around us. CodeWizardsHQ offers coding classes for kids as well as homeschool computer curriculum. We recently took a special one-time class that gave my 6th grader a great introduction to HTML.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}
CodeWizardsHQ is an online program for students in grades 5-12 that teaches programming using the languages used to build all of the software around us: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and more. This is a comprehensive program that teaches kids how to actually code, with each 12-week course building on the previous course.
CodeWizardsHQ is superior to other programs in many ways, but the most important thing that sets this program apart is the live classes. The weekly one-hour, interactive, instructor-led classes allows kids immediate feedback while they learn. 70% of class time is spent writing code and building things on a custom-built coding platform that allows instructors to view students code in real time and offer the feedback and encouragement that is missing from video based programs. Other advantages include:
  • 24/7 access to coding platform
  • Same day email support
  • One-on-one help as needed
  • Weekly student progress updates
  • Unlimited personal web space

How we used it:

On the day of our class we logged onto the website using the information that was emailed to us earlier in the week. The student dashboard page is clean and easy to navigate, which is a plus for kids. From the dashboard we simply clicked on the “join class” button, which opened a new window. The class was really easy to navigate, as well. There was a chat on the right hand side, and on the left we could see the instructor’s screen. While we were waiting for class to start, everyone chatted a bit with the instructor while testing their mics to make sure everything was working properly. Our instructor was Lynn, and she was great with the kids. She was friendly and engaging, and with her many years in the field of coding, extremely knowledgeable.

            CodeWizardsHQ class screen shot  20180430_111012

After a brief introduction, the kids got to jump right in and work with some code. Using files already saved on the dashboard, they got to make their very own comic. Francesca was very excited about this. Lynn taught them how to use code to make new panels, change the background, the pictures, and to edit text. She showed them how to upload their own images to use in their panels. It was a great interactive format; she would show them the code they were looking for on her screen, walk them through the process, and then have them try it out. She then gave them about ten minutes or so to work on their comics, and then the class ended with everyone sharing what they created. While the kids were working, Lynn was right there to answer questions and help kids who were having difficulties with their code. She was able to look at their code from her end and she was encouraging them as they went along.


I didn’t think Francesca was going to be very interested in learning how to code, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun she had. She was easily able to keep up with the instruction, and had no problem navigating the code. She had no experience or exposure to HTML before this class, but she picked it up with no problem.



Our experience with this class proved to me that their claim is true; CodeWizardHQ has a definite edge because of the live instructors. Francesca would not have learned so quickly or easily from a video, and I can see how she might have gotten frustrated or turned off from learning code if she hadn’t had an instructor there.

While CodeWizardHQ is for all students, they do offer special pricing for homeschoolers, as well as the flexibility to pick your own class time. If this sounds like it could be a good fit for your family, there is a Facebook group for parents who are interested in coding for their kids: Be sure to click below to read what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: YWAM Publishing-Heroes of History Review

As you may know, we’re big readers in this family,so I was so excited for another opportunity to review a book from YWAM Publishing! This time we chose to read Clara Barton: Courage Under Fire from the Heroes of History set.

Heroes of History

Heroes of History is a biography series that tells the true life stories of remarkable men and women that changed the course of history. Last year we read Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels' Den, which was a fascinating story of the life of Corrie ten Boom. We all knew about her before reading the book, but it really brought her to life for us. The same is true this time with Clara Barton:Courage Under Fire. Before reading this book we knew Clara Barton’s story, but after finishing this book we feel like we really got to know her.

Clara Barton lived from 1821-1912, and was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War. She organized the American Red Cross and devoted her life to it. From my 12 year old, Francesca:

“As a young girl, Clara was very shy and didn’t like to social with other children. When she got older her dad bought a farm and there were some other children living with her. After she played with them for a while, she became more open to talking to people. When she was ten her brother got sick and she had to care for him. After she graduated from school she became a teacher. She easily gained the respect of her students. Later on she left the classroom to study at the Clinton Liberal Institute. During the Civil War she went to the battle fronts with the supplies she’d gathered from the people to help the wounded soldiers. After the war she dedicated the rest of her life to leading the American Red Cross.
I think Clara Barton was an inspiring person because she changed from a shy girl to an outstanding woman who defied the gender barriers and helped and guided others along her way.”

In addition to the book, we also received a downloadable Study Guide that includes:
  • Key Quotes: for memorization, or to spark thought and discussion.

    “I am only one,
    But still I am one.
    I cannot do everything,
    But still I can do something;
    And because I cannot do everything
    I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

    —Edward Everett Hale

  • Display Corner: Designate a corner or table to collect things from the time and place of your biography. Some ideas included keeping maps of where Clara Barton lived, or significant battle sites of the Civil War. Also, pictures of Clara Barton’s home in Glen Echo, Maryland, or Andersonville cemetery, which Clara helped rebuild. This is a great hands-on way to connect more with the story. 
  • Chapter Questions: There are six questions for each chapter: a vocabulary question drawn from the text, a factual question, two question to gauge the student’s level of comprehension, and two open-ended questions. The first three are geared toward younger students, while the last three are more challenging.


  • Student Explorations: These include Essay questions, Hands-on projects, Audio/Visual projects, and Arts and Crafts to appeal to all types of learners.
  • Community Links: Take part in what your community has to offer to learn more about the time period you’re reading.
  • Social Studies: Places, Journeys, Terms/Vocabulary, Geographical characteristics, Timeline, and Conceptual questions.
  • Related themes to explore: Great for unit studies!


  • Culminating Event: Share what you’ve learned!
What We Thought:

Since we loved our last study so much, I had a feeling this one would be great, too, and we were not disappointed! The book brought Clara Barton to life for us, and the study guide was an excellent tool to enhance our learning, giving us the opportunity to really dig in to the story.

The Heroes of History set includes so many more remarkable people, such as Harriet Tubman and George Washington:True Patriot. Be sure to click below and see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say!

Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Talent Show!

Tonight was the 2nd annual talent show at church. Katie sang “The Sun is Rising” and Francesca sang “Dry Bones” They did a beautiful job, and I was so proud of them both!

katietalentshow2018     franktalentshow2018

I’m having some technical difficulties getting the youtube videos to embed here, and I don’t have another minute to spend on this, so we’re going to have to do this the old fashioned way. Click on the links below for a sample of their songs.

Francesca singing Dry Bones

Katie singing The Sun is Rising

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew:Help Teaching Pro Review

My girls are big fans of worksheets. I am always searching the internet for worksheets to supplement our studies, but it’s time consuming. I used to have a favorite worksheet website, but sadly my girls have aged out of it. I jumped at the opportunity to review a Help Teaching Pro subscription from


Help Teaching Pro is an online subscription that gives users access to thousands of worksheets, pre-made tests, and lessons for grades K-12. There is also a Test Maker to create your own tests, and a Worksheet Generator that allows you to create your own Math sheets for drilling practice, as well as games and puzzles.

Worksheets,Quizzes, and Activities: Cover 4 basic subjects-ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies, as well as extras like Art, Music, Physical Education, and Life Skills. You can print the worksheets or have your student complete them online. You can also save things in the My Content tab, which I have found to be extremely useful.

Lessons: Include reading, videos, comprehension questions, and related worksheets. These can be completed online or printed. There is also an option to assign lessons to your students. 

Test Maker: Allows you to create your own tests. You can browse questions by grade level, subject, or keywords. You can also use your own content. When you search for questions, you can scroll through the results and check the boxes next to the questions you want added to your test. Once you’re finished, the test and answer key go to the My Content tab. From there you can schedule the test or print it as a PDF.

Worksheet Generator: Generate drill pages for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as word search puzzles and bingo games. You can print or save these as you make them.

Online Testing: Online assessment platform that you can use to schedule tests.

How We Used It, and What We Thought:

                    20180330_145722     20180418_133412

There are a ton of resources on this website, so I spent some time reading through all the different tabs and getting a feel for the material. Once I got the hang of the website, it was pretty easy to navigate. One piece I really enjoyed using was the test maker. For history we don’t use a text book. My girls are readers, so we read lots and lots of books on whatever period of history we’re studying. I did a quick search, the Civil War for example, and had hundreds of questions to choose from. I loved that I could sort them by grade level, and a quick scan of the questions let me choose ones on content I knew we’d recently read about. Once they finished their tests we had a great record of learning that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  

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I also really enjoyed using the Worksheet Generator to create word searches for my 6th grader using vocabulary words from a book she was reading. These are great to reinforce learning; encountering words in different ways helps aide in retention.

I have a tendency to look through a lot of worksheets in a sitting, without printing them all out. I love being able to save everything in one spot that’s easy to find. No more searching around for pages I’d found before.

Overall, I think is a great tool for homeschool parents, and I’m so happy to have a one-year subscription to Help Teaching Pro. I’m sure I’m not the only one-click below to hear what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members had to say!

Help Teaching Pro. { Reviews}

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Homeschool Review Crew: Apologia-Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Review

Apologia has an outstanding reputation in the homeschool community for providing high quality curriculum that kids (and parents!) truly enjoy using. We were so excited for the opportunity to try out an Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology set from Apologia!

Anatomy & Physiology

The set we received includes:

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology textbook: a beautifully illustrated elementary level (Grades K-6) hardcover book that has fourteen lessons:
  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  • Lesson 2: The Skeletal System
  • Lesson 3: The Muscular System
  • Lesson 4: The Digestive and Renal Systems
  • Lesson 5: Health and Nutrition
  • Lesson 6: The Respiratory System
  • Lesson 7: Life in the Blood
  • Lesson 8: The Cardiovascular System
  • Lesson 9: The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
  • Lesson 10: The Nervous System Extended
  • Lesson 11: Your Senses
  • Lesson 12: The Integumentary System
  • Lesson 13: The Lymphatic and Immune Systems
  • Lesson 14: Growth and Development 

Each lesson has Try This! activities, as well as experiments and notebooking activities. Throughout the lessons there are What Do You Remember moments that give your student the opportunity to teach back to you what they’ve learned.

Human Anatomy Notebooking Journal: has a spiral-bound softcover and is designed to correspond with the assignments and activities in the textbook. Included in this integral part of the curriculum are Copywork pages, Vocabulary Crosswords, Review Questions, Project pages, Field Trip sheets, and lots of great notebooking activities and projects. There are also More to Explore pages to give you additional ideas to enhance learning. There is a suggested schedule in the front, which I found to be extremely helpful, and Final Review questions at the end.

Human Anatomy Junior Notebooking Journal: is similar in content but is for younger students who are just beginning to write, or for students who are not yet writing well. This journal has coloring pages, more cut and paste activities, and the Copywork pages have shorter scripture verses. Like the other journal, the lessons correspond with the assignments and activities in the book and offers a bunch of additional activities to enhance learning.
Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD: This is a great addition to the curriculum, and I was really excited to try it out. Jeannie Fulbright (author) reads the entire Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology text, which is a tremendous help for homeschool moms who have tired voices from lots of reading aloud. This MP3 CD needs to be played in an MP3-compatible device.

How We Used It, and What We Thought:

Right out of the box, I was really impressed with these books. They’re beautiful! The text has illustrations on every page and is really visually inviting, and the notebooking journals have nice, thick pages and the notebooking components are all in color. As a huge book nerd, details like this make me really happy.

The schedule suggests a pace of two days per week to complete this program in 28 weeks. We have followed the suggested schedule so far, but I’m thinking we’ll double up and do four days a week so we can finish up over the summer.


There really wasn’t much prep work needed to get started other than gathering supplies; and there’s a really great section in the beginning of the text that lists everything you need to complete the experiments in each lesson. This program is really well thought out.

On a typical day, we listen to the CD as my younger daughter reads along with the text. Jeannie has a great voice and reads with such emotion that my girls really enjoy listening to her. We haven’t always found that to be the case with audio CD’s, so this just further illustrates the quality of these products.

                 20180417_154637     20180417_174950

I have a 6th grader and an 8th grader, so technically the 6th grader is on the higher end of the recommended grade level, and the 8th grader is beyond. However, we purchased an additional notebooking journal for the 8th grader because when she saw the books, she really wanted to join in and have one of her own.

After listening to the lesson, we do the corresponding activities. One of our favorites is the Personal Person Project that they’ve been adding body systems to as we complete the lessons. They’ve also really enjoyed doing the crosswords and the labeling the diagrams. Although they don’t really need the practice anymore, they love doing the Copywork pages, too. I really like the review questions as a tool to make sure they’re understanding what we’ve covered.

Jeannie uses great intros and examples to connect the information dense lesson in a real way that lets students understand the material. My girls found those intros and stories a little young for them at times, but that was to be expected given their grades. I took Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2 in college, and I was impressed with the thoroughness and depth of teaching of the body systems. Jeannie does a wonderful job of making a complex subject understandable and fun. Science has been a highlight in our homeschool since starting this program, and I enthusiastically recommend it!

                20180417_174742     20180417_174811

I’m not the only Apologia fan. Be sure to check out what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members thought of Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology by clicking below!

Apologia - Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Reviews

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fine Day for a Parade!

Every year our community has a 5K race as well as a canoe race. These are kicked off with a parade, and this year our church and AWANA families joined in the festivities.

IMG_2113     spark-and-cubby 

Katie walked as Sparky.

IMG_2122     IMG_2125

The weather has been unseasonably cold, and it feels like winter may never end, but it was a beautiful sunny day. We had a great turn out of kids and family members representing our church and AWANA programs, and fun was had by all!

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