Sunday, August 31, 2014

Great Products Homeschool T Shirt Giveaway!

This time last year I was fortunate enough to be sent some cool clothes from Great Products. This year they approached me again and wondered if I would like to offer another giveaway to my readers. The kids are anxiously awaiting the T shirts we chose. The two older ones are still wearing last years choices (albeit Boo's is a little snug this year.) They have washed great. Jam actually had the black hoodie and it hasn't faded at all, in fact he can't wait for the cooler weather to come so he can start wearing it again!

Captain America is SO excited to have his own home school t shirt on the way. Last year the kids picked different ones. This year we decided to have the same one!

Isn't that cool. You now know why the kids are stalking the mailbox. They seriously can not wait. I will post some pictures when they arrive.

Even if you don't win the giveaway, you can purchase your own cool T shirts for the new home school year. Right now all of the home school T shirts are just $5.99 until SEPTEMBER 15th. Check out all the designs here.

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, August 29, 2014

Random Five Friday - August 29 2014

 1. Today I decided to take the kids to the zoo. I didn't decide last night however, it was at 8:30 this morning. So at 9am we were heading down the road. Reminder to self...Next time check the weather forecast. Did you know not many people go to the zoo WHEN ITS CHUCKING IT DOWN!! Bonus though...we got a really close parking space.

2. The polar bears at our zoo like the rain, and have you ever had fun in a mirror.

 3. We had out regular homemade pizza night tonight. Our current favorite - My homemade crust, barbecue sauce, bacon, onion, peppers, chicken, Italian cheese - plus jalapenos (but not on every pizza).

4. The kids and I are working on a review. They are LOVING it! In fact they have been working on about a week worth work every day. Watch this space for the review. I bet you would be surprised to hear it's GRAMMAR

5. I can't believe it's labor day weekend. Another year has gone by without Heather. It's strange that something can feel like it happened yesterday and yet so long ago at the same time. Labor day 1999, Sept 6 we lost our little angel.

Check out some more random five over at The Pebble Pond.

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Curriculum is a HUGE decision. We follow a loose Charlotte Mason program. When I say loose, I mean we love living curriculum, but sometimes we love textbooks. So really we balance our loves into a blend that is just ours. There are no affiliate links in this post - they are there purely for your information.

The kids are going to be continuing swim team this year. We are hoping that Captain America can swim well enough to sign up too. He has really improved his swimming this summer, and he really wants to join. We won't sign him up for USA Swimming this winter but should be ready for our summer league next year. I love that this gives the kids SO much exercise and they really love it. We start again next week and the kids are really excited!

Latin is still being done with Nana via Skype. It is so great that she is willing to put so much effort into the kids studies. This will be the third year. They have compleated Cambridge Latin 1 and are half way through Cambridge Latin 2. We are not quite sure what we are doing next. We may just repeat the books again, as Nana thinks there is still SO much to learn.

One of Jam's other main goals this year is to get closer to obtaining his Eagle Scout Award. He was made a Life Scout last month and so this will take up quite a bit of his spare time.

Boo turns 12  this year and so will be entering our Young Women program at church. She is really excited to start working on her Personal Progress.

So saying that here is what else we will be working on this year.


Math -
CTC Math
Life of Fred - Physics
Pre Algebra with Biology
Pre Algebra with Economics
(We may get further with Life of Fred, we will just have to see)

Literature and Social Studies

Roman Roads - The Greeks 1 year course
In Freedoms Cause 
The Age of Chivalry
Joan of Arc - Mark Twain
History of English Literature


Apologia - Physical Science
Life of a Spider


America The Beautiful - Notgrass
Birth of Britain - Winston Churchill

Language Arts

Spelling You See (We are testing a new level)
IEW Fix It (Review will post in October)
ERS Expository Essay - Fortuigence  (Review will post in October)
IEW Student Writing Intensive 


How the Heather Looks
Brendan Voyage


Cambridge Latin II
Duolingo Spanish


Piano Lessons


Swim Team

Scripture Study / Memorization



Life of Fred Fractions
Life of Fred Decimals and Percents
Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Physics


Oliver Twist
Age of Fable
(More to come)


IEW Student Writing Intensive
IEW Grammar - Fix It
Life of Fred Language Arts (Book 3 & 4)


Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Exploring Creation with General Science


America The Beautiful
Abraham Lincolns World
Story of the World 4
Carry a Big Stick


Halliburton's Book of Marvels (both books)


Cambridge Latin 2
Duolingo Spanish




Swim Team


Scripture Study / Memorization



Life of Fred - Apples, Butterflies, Apples
Math Mammoth Grade 1


New Testament Readers


Three Tales of My Father's Dragon
A Bear Called Paddington
The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook
The House at Pooh Corner
Uncle Wiggly Bedtime Stories
Mouse Tales
Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury
A Treasury of Curious George
Mad About Madeline
The Danny and the Dinosaur Treasury 


Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls


Funnix Reading
Bob Books 
Various Early Readers


Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans
Kindergarten Gems 
Fifty Famous People
Little Wanderers
Among the Forest People
Among the Pond People
The Burgess Flower Book for Children (If I can find a reasonable priced copy)
The Berenstain Bears - Big Book of Science and Nature


Zoology 1 Exploring Creation with...


Funnix Reading
Lightening Literature Grade 1 
Spelling You See - Jack and Jill (2nd half)


Homeschool Piano
Recorder (as soon as I can find a good program)


Bike Riding
Rollar Skating
Plus just being a five year old and climbing trees etc

WOW that was a long list...kudos to you if you stuck around and read it all. Hopefully we will have some awesome reviews mixed in too!

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Essential Skills Advantage {Review Crew}

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Since I work from home there are times when I need Captain America (remember this is now what we call Little J who's 5) to do something constructive if I am busy. He has his own laptop on his new school desk that we set up this year and so doesn't have to boot someone else off theirs to play. Essential Skills Advantage is an online reading and language program for grades K-6. I was given a premium membership in exchange for this review. A premium membership costs $9.99 a month however if you use the code 'TOS50' by Oct 1 2014 you could get this program for $4.99 a month (for as long as you keep the subscription active). There is also a free version of the program available however this does contain ads and doesn't have all the features of the premium membership.

Essential Skills Advantage has been around along time. Up until recently it worked mainly with traditional schools (over 20,000). Since the program was so successful in helping children in the classroom to read company started getting requests from members etc to use the program at home, and so here it is.

OK now we have all the cost and information out of the way lets look how the program works. When I first started Essential Skills Advantage I was a little confused because I thought that I had to sign in Captain America everytime he wanted to use it. After a quick email to the company (and super quick response) I realized that I had missed an important part of the set up ~ his unique sign in link. I placed this on his laptop screen, changed the original password to one he could remember and 'boom' easy peasy! When Captain America clicked on the link on his screen he saw the screen below (there are a lot more buttons to choose from though this is just a limited screen shot).

After clicking on the activity he wants to go it then takes him to a login page where he enters his username and password.

The next screen shows your progress in the chosen area. Each of these buttons are clickable and starts an activity.

Captain America is a little impatient with the sign in process, he would rather click a button enter a password and GO.....I quite like how this program works. It starts of very simply. We had to jump around a bit to find the right level for Captain America. He wasn't quite ready to handle the 1st grade level without my assistance and the begining of kindergarten made him roll his eyes. Eventually we found a happy medium. His favorite part was he was asked to type in words. First - copying what he read on the screen, then with the same list of words he had to type what he heard. This second part was quite tricky, luckily there is a button you can press to hear the word said again.

For some reason Captain America doesn't ask to work on this program. I think in that sentence is the key. It truly seems more like a program than a 'game'. If I ask him to work on it, he will without arguing though. To him this is a school program rather than something he asks to play during his free computer time. I don't have a problem with that and I like the way the program works. We have been focusing on kindergarten sight words, typing, and listening skills so far and I can definitely see an improvement.

Since this program is recommended up to grade 6 I logged Boo onto the program at the begining of the review period. Unfortunately she found the program too easy. Although she is technically grade 6 her reading and comprehension is much, much older. So it was hard to get her motivated to use the program. I decided to just focus on Captain America.

Essential Skills Advantage Social Media Links

There are a lot of other crew members using this program. Click on the link below to read more reviews.

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ubersmart Math Facts {Review Crew}

UberSmart Math Facts Review

I don't know about you but in our house math facts are a problem. We memorize and memorize but 'instant' recall comes and goes. Well for me anyway! Anytime I can review something that can help in that area it is exciting to me (not necessarily to the kids). So when I was offered a chance to try Ubersmart Math Facts  from Ubersmart Software I jumped at the chance (and my kids groaned).

Before I get started talking about how the program works I have to point out that this program is downloadable to your computer and only works on Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista.

This computer based software teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and is aimed at grades K-6. However if you are like me you might find it useful for yourself.

The program was designed by a home school dad, like many dad's he was trying to solve a problem given to him by his wife ~ "make a set of math flashcards". He actually did something my husband would have done...tried to find an electronic version. My husband hates scraps of paper around the house. So this is always his first choice. Not finding one he liked Mr Kocur decided to create his own. It did the job ~ his kids learned their facts and learned them well!

UberSmart Math Facts Review

 All three of my kids have their own laptops and so each of them have their own copy. Although this program is marketed for ages K-6 I loaded on Jam's laptop too! Everyone can do with more Math fact practice right! The program costs $24.95 and allows for 8 users.

Now this is not a flashy, bright, program with teddy bears jumping out every few seconds to encourage your kids. But believe me once you get going it's really fun. Why...because you are challenging yourself. My older kids like it, and are willing to spend a good ten minutes or so on it. My 1st grader however is a little put off by the 'let's get down to business' attitude of the program. This is where bribery comes in...ten minutes on this program for ten minutes of that... I will freely admit it bribery works some times. Especially when I hear him shout "YES!" when he passes something off (even if it's just his +0, +1, or +2 math facts).

I love that this program is a one time purchase and not something I have to commit to every month. So although Jam has basically aged out I know that we will get plenty of miles out of this program as a family.


After I loaded the program on the the kids computers I gave them a quick tour of the program. The older two I basically let them explore most of the program by themselves but I did insist that they only work on multiplication and division. Captain America worked solely on addition throughout the review period.

When I setup Captain America (Little J's new name for the blog as apparently he's not 'little' anymore) on the program I was able to edit a couple of the settings. I was able to extend the seconds per problem, mastery factor and the beat the clock. Since he is not working on multiplication and division yet I didn't worry about changing those. However, when we start I will go in and change them one at a time so he doesn't get hit straight away with a 12x problem.

Captain America completed the beginner assessment and we received quite a comprehensive report. I know you can't read it clearly but it gives you the general idea. (This is printable for your records or can be saved on your computer.)

My kids tried out the 'learn' section but honestly they didn't like it. They found it annoying that they couldn't pick the answer. So most of our time was spent in the other sections. The practice section allows you to enter the answers and they prefered this. The Test section is split into 2 choices 'beginner' and 'intermediate' this is where we took Captain America's assessment test. This is also where you can obtain 'mastery' of a particular area. This is a great tool as it helps you pass off individual sections. So you can start for example working through the timestables from 0 to 12 and as you get 100% in this section it marks them as 'mastered'. The next tab is 'compete' I must admit this is my favorite area. You can pick your age generally 'Adult', 'High School', 'Middle School' etc and then you answer a set of timed questions. You are then ranked with all the other players that the program has one file. It's pretty fun to see where you rank in the list. The report sections shows a summary of the progress that you have made, and the 'maintain' section is just that, it helps you maintain the account, passwords etc...

Some of the unique features of the program are;

~ Beginner option using dot cards (like adding domino faces)
~ Keyboard Entry (Ten-Key Numbers)
~ Flash Cards (add, subtract, multiplication, division)
~ Addition/Subtraction goes up through the 9s
~ Multiplication/Division has the option to set it to go up to 9's - 20's.


At first the kids groaned quite a bit when I asked them to play with this program. However eventually the older two had less of an attitude with it. I think when they bypassed the 'learn' section they found it a lot more user friendly. They also like to obtain the 'mastery' status. Captain America is still not convinced. He does it when asked but he never chooses it when given computer time.


I like this program. It's simple, yet complicated (if you understand what I mean) I am sure there are things that I haven't mastered yet, and things I have missed. The only thing I didn't like was the learn section as it wouldn't let us pick an answer, but this was easily solved by jumping to the practice section so it wasn't a huge issue. I would LOVE this as an Android App so that we could play it on the go without the Internet.


1.  Downloads to your computer and only works on Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista.
2. Marketed for grade K-6 (although suitable through Adult as it's not babyish)
3. $24.95 one time payment (no monthly fee)

Check out what others on the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, August 22, 2014

Random Five August 22 2014

1. We have had the hottest weather o far this week. Typical since we started back to full school.
2. We snuck in two swim parties.  One with friends and one with Grandma and Grandpa.
3. My hanging baskets are dying and I don't really know why. I have watered and fed them. Very sad...
4. We have two buzzagent things in the works. My Monopoly from Hasbro and a new Robo Dog. The kids are SO excited to get the robotic dog to play with!
5. Going to watch Dirt Track racing tomorrow night. I heard we need to take earplugs. The kids are excited....
Check out more Random Five over at ThePebblePond

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Magic Grotto (Blue Grotto) Island of Capri - Guest Post - Boo

 Grotta azzurra.jpg

Today I read about the most amazing place on earth, The Magic Grotto also know as The Blue Grotto. (Halliburtons Book of Marvels)

Along time ago on an island called Capri, there was an earthquake and part of the caves entrance sunk into the sea. It is now known as the Magic Grotto. The only way to get into this cave is to enter by a narrow entrance by rowboat. Once you get inside the cave it's so beautiful you could imagine you are in heaven. The oars turn silver as they touch the water, if you skim the water with your hands they turn the color of diamonds. The walls and ceiling are the most beautiful shade of blue. 

I would love to visit this Magic Grotto. I read that if you dive into the depths that you would leave a trail of sparkle behind you, Wouldn't that be amazing.

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology

We have just completed our first experiment.
Boo placed 2 peeled apples in bowls and covered one with Baking Soda and salt.
We left it for one week and today was our check it out day.
The apple left on our side just looks dryed out - no mold anywhere. I have seen others that were covered in mold. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Our apple covered in baking soda and salt is mummified, but in fact looks worse that the other.
I hope we eventually get better at this science thing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Carole P Roman - If You Were Me And Lived In... {Review}


We were recently sent a box of books from Carole P Roman. If you haven't checked her books out you really need too. Little J loves these!

About Carole;

Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband.

We have reviewed them before here and loved them. This time we were sent books about Russia, Australia, and Portugal. Little J is starting to read but these are a little above his level so I had to read them too him, because I enjoy them too.

The books are written as an introduction to culture from different countries across the world. The first page of the book shows a map of the country and indicates where the capital is. Then it shows roughly where the country is on the globe. The book tells a few facts about the country including the name of the capital and it's size in the world (for example Moscow is the fifth largest city in the world). It talks about the popular names from the country and the names of 'Mom' and 'Dad' in the native language. Common food and clothing (including the names in the native language) are discussed. Famous tourist places and sports, myths, and legends.

I like the fact that there is a lot of information given in quite a simple way. With lots of topics covered it gives a lot of scope for further study. I know we have jumped onto YouTube many times to learn more about something in them. Little J loved having his globe with him so that he could search for the new country on it after we read the book!

These books are available on Amazon  for $.99 cents for the kindle version or $8.99 for the brightly colored softback version I received.

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, August 15, 2014

Captured on the High Seas - Tyndale Book Review

Little J is only just starting to read, and so books that he can read to himself are pretty limited. He loves action/adventure type books and so when I was offered the chance to receive the book Captured on the High Seas he was really excited as he is an old-fashioned 5 year old at heart and still enjoys a paper book!

Captured on the High Seas is about 2 time traveling children Patrick and Beth who land in the middle of sea battle between the British and Americans in the Revolutionary War. The book covers a lot of interesting topics. The slave trade, prisoners of war, overcrowded prison ships. The book would be an excellent addition to any study of the Revolutionary War.

The book is aimed to children between the ages of 6 to 9 years old. However if you love reading to your kids then I would recommend this to younger kids if they like to listen to more complex stories. Little J is 5 and LOVED this book. He would have listened to the whole book in one sitting if I had read that long. The story is not written in a babyish way and my husband also enjoyed reading this one!

This book is #14 in the Adventures In Odyssey Imagination Station Series and we are definitely going to be reading some more of these!

I don't want to tell you too much about the story because believe me this is one you will enjoy reading to your kids!

The book is also available in paperback and kindle here.

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Random Five Friday - August 15th 2014

1. Our first week of school went well.

2. Little J has his own computer desk now, and we added a few things to the schoolroom.

3. Our rock climbing day turned into a fun weekend as we stayed overnight spontaneously. We luckily found a hotel with a laundry and pool, near a Walmart so all was good! The kids loved staying over 'unplanned', and loved it even more when I told them the hotel had a hot breakfast included.  We went exploring and had a blast.

4. I am going to be starting a giveaway soon for a home-school T Shirt from Shop Great Products We have picked our T- Shirts for our review and can't wait for them to arrive!

Ninja - T-Shirt

5. I am in the middle of making the most delicious homemade caramel popcorn - Recipe:

Check out some more random five fun over at The Pebble Pond.
The Pebble Pond

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, August 8, 2014

Random Five Friday - August 8th 2014

1. I gave the kids an extra week off. Although we have still been working on reviews, math, and reading. Our full schedule starts again Monday.

2. Have I ever mentioned my kids like rocks. We are going to look for rocks tomorrow. Stay posted for pictures later in the week.

3. We are coming the end of our lastest television treat. We have been watching Merlin. It's getting a bit tense now we are getting to the end. The funny thing is Jam and Boo keep on comparing it to the books they have read of the stories of King Arthur, which of course they LOVE.

4. We have just finished up the last of the English chocolate that my neice brought over when she visited. Little J's favorite is Milky Bar

Milkybar Wrapper

5. I am SO excited for the new school year. We have got some fun reviews we are working on. Especially IEW Fix it Grammar

Check out more Random Five over at the Pebble Pond.

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poem - The Race

We had the Sister Missonaries over for dinner last night and they shared a poem with us that my husband actually remembers having to memorize as a child. Then we went rollar skating with some of the youth from church.
Little J is such a thinker and driving home last night he said "Mom, I fell over quite a few times skating tonight but I kept thinking about the poem and just kept getting up!"

The Race 

 attributed to Dr. D.H. "Dee" Groberg

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
    my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
    excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
    or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
    and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
    to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
    was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
    the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
    and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.
    Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
    which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
    and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
    his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
    “I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”
But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face
    with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”
So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
    “If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten...
    but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
    “There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
    But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,
    for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!
    You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”
So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
    and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
    still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.
Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
    Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
    head high and proud and happy -- no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
    the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
    you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
    “To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
    the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
    And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
    another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”

 Little J's pink cheeks after 2 hours of skating - non stop!

©2011-2014 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Roman Road Media - Old Western Culture - The Greeks {TOS Review}

Jam loves anything to do with the Greek Mythology, it has been one of his favorite subjects since we started to home school. To be honest it wasn't our home school journey that sparked his interest but a well known children's book series. However the fact that we home school allows us the time to explore this topic a lot more. We lean towards a mix of Classical Education and Charlotte Mason methods. So when we were given the opportunity to review a product from Roman Roads Media I was seriously excited (and so was Jam). We were given access to the online streaming version of the full year course Old Western Culture - The Greeks

What is it?

Roman Roads Media is a leader in home school Classical Education products. The course I received is the first in a four year program DVD/Online history course called Old Western Culture: A Christian Approach to the Great Books;

Year 1 The Greeks
Year 2 The Romans
Year 3, Christendom (planned for 2015)
Year 4, The Moderns (coming 2016).

I was given online access to all four units listed below and the DVD set of The Histories.

Greeks - The Epics - Iliad and Odyssey
Greeks - Drama and Lyrics -
Greeks - The Histories - Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon
Greeks - The Philosophers - Sophocles, Aristotle and Plato

This four unit course is a complete literature and social studies course however it also includes philosophy and art and is designed specifically for homeschoolers grade 8 and up.

The full course includes video instruction, reading assignments, exercises after each video lecture, essays and end of term exams. Each of the four units has 12 video lectures that are about 30 minutes each. The videos include hundreds of classical paintings, maps, and time lines.

A unit is designed to last 9 weeks and therefore you could complete all four units in 36 weeks. We found following this schedule really helpful as sometimes we tend to overstretch ourselves and get burnt out. For example one day Jam had it in his head he had to read four books of the Iliad in one day and got completely stressed. After that episode I printed him a copy of the schedule and now he just marks it off each day.

Below is the schedule for 'The Epics'. What I like about this schedule is that although it is laid out on a Mon-Fri calender it is easy just to transfer it to a Day 1, Day 2 type schedule. There have been a couple of days when we have gone out so we just tick of a days work when it's done and move on to the next thing.

I did email the company to see if they had a schedule for the whole year which they don't at the moment but it is something that they are going to look at adding. However it's not that hard to create your own year plan for the year.

You can look at getting started guide and schedule here.

Wesley Callihan is the teacher presenting the information on each video. Theses are not boring lectures but engaging lessons that draw you in and help you understand the material. During the video you are shown works of art, maps, and photos of actual places mentioned, which really helps visual learners link to the material. Wesley Callihan is very engaging and although I have tried to read some of these classics before, he has really helped me understand them better.

Each video starts with a quick recap/review of the previous lesson before jumping into the new material, Jam really likes this, as it helps him refocus. (I also found this extremely helpful to my old brain.)
Hundreds of classical paintings, maps, timelines

How we used the online streaming course:

When you log into the online streaming course it is very easy to follow and laid out very simply. It is basically click, complete and move on. Honestly it is a home school Mom's dream.

From the very first day I signed Jam in, it has been easy sailing. Basically Jam logs in and completes the next step. It even keeps a record of his points earned and how many points he needs to finish the unit. As you work through the course it is separated into readings, lectures and quizzes. When you complete a quiz online and press complete the quizzes are graded. However there is a small button to the side that says 'mark un-complete and retry' Jam has used this button once when he wasn't happen with a quiz result and wanted to try it again.

Although each of these units can be used individually and therefore not necessarily used in the order above, Jam and I decided to follow the course as laid out in the online plan.

Jam started with The Epics.

This program covers 'The Iliad' and students learn about the quarrels between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles and the consequences from these disputes it is set during the Trojan War. The Odyssey is also studied and is considered a sequel as sorts to The Iliad it talks about the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It is a lot easier to follow the stories and understand the assigned readings with the help of the video lectures. 

Jam's favorite parts of an early lecture is when Wesley Callihan refers to the old saying about Helen of Troy 'That she is the face that launched a 1000 ships', but then goes on to say that she actually launched 1186 ships! I think he will remember that figure now.

The only thing Jam is dreading is the final essay that is due at the end of each unit. I am excited about this though and seeing how he grows.
The Iliad and the Odyssey
The Iliad and the Odyssey

You may be wondering where you can find copies of all these great books that are studied during this program. You have a few choices. Roman Roads have PDF copies available for download, you can buy them or do what we did and download them on our kindle app. Jam liked having them on Kindle because they were portable, he has done his assigned reading in the car on more than one occasion this summer. Since these books are SO old you can find them in the public domain.

This is not a fifteen minute a day program. If you think about it each video lecture is 30 minutes long and then you have to complete a video quiz. Other days you are reading 2-3 books/chapters of hard text. Jam and I agree that you will be spending about 1-2 hours a day on this, sometimes 3 if you want to stay on schedule.

You can watch sample lectures etc on the website here to decide whether this is a good fit for you or not.

Since I have mainly been using the first unit in my examples I wanted to tell you a little more about the other units Jam will be covering this year. I went ahead and watched some of the lectures and introductions from the three other units so I could get a feel for the whole program.

Unit 2 Drama and Lyric

This unit teaches about the background of Greek Drama. It is explained that this can be broken down into three topics; tragedies, comedies, and minor poems. It teaches about the background development and historical context of theater. The three main writers of tragedies Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are discussed as well as Aristophanes who is known for writing comedies and others like Saphho and Pinder who are less known but wrote lyrical poetry. I was intrigued with the early Greek idea that you should not see violence in their plays (the violence always happened behind the scenes) they felt that people would become accustomed to it and that this would make them less 'human' or caring. This mentality changes as time progresses and as more and more violence is accepted into society. For example by the time of the Romans they had 'Gladiators' and people would watch others die, for pleasure or fun.

Unit 3 The Histories

This unit focuses on the 5th Century BC. It talks about Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon who were the main historians of the time. The main things covered are;

1. The Persian Wars (490 -480 BC)
2. Golden Age of Athens (479-431 BC)
3. Peloponnesion Wars (431-404 BC)

Most of the history of this time period is centered around Athens. It was interesting to learn how democratic the society was during this time. Every citizen could vote and juries were often quite large - sometimes up to 400 people.

Unit 4 Unit 4 The Philosophers

It seems to me that it would be best to complete this unit last. It discusses Plato and Aristotle. The unit talks about what philosophy is and what it includes namely; Ontology, Epistemology, Anthropology, and Teleology. Various of books written by Plato and Aristotle are covered and discussed from a Christian prospective.

What we thought;

I love how art, literature, philosophy, and history are combined in this series. However the biggest HUGE bonus for me is that I don't have to explain and teach these great books. We have someone (albeit on video) to teach and explain it too us! We have had some great discussions and I look forward to many more this year. Although we don't necessarily watch the videos at the same time we do both watch and discuss them. However I must admit I can see myself falling behind on the reading schedule.

Although these courses are said to be from a Christian background I haven't found them overly so. The writers of the program are 

This is definitely a program that we will use all year. I have not even had to ask my 13 year old to do this once - he loves it. However I do expect some moaning when it is time to turn in that first essay :)

So DVD versus online streaming...this is a hard one I loved being able to pop in a DVD while watching the DVD on The Histories, however after using the online program I must admit I LOVE it. I love the ease of the program. I love that Jam can just log in and get on with it. I love that I don't have to print anything. I love that the quizzes are built in to the program and I don't have to have the correct pages ready.
If I used the DVD program I would probably want to buy the student book so I didn't have to print anything. You do however get a hard copy of the Guide to art pamphlet with the DVD, with the online program you get a PDF copy. So although when applying for the review I thought I would prefer the DVD I really LOVE the online program.

The program is available for purchase here.

Online Streaming $199.00 plus PDF downloads

DVD Program $224.00 plus PDF downloads

Student Workbooks (hard copies) $48.00

OR individual DVD units $56.00 each and individual workbooks $12.00

DVD All four units of The Greeks. Full curriculum, 4 DVD sets. Each unit includes a Guide to the Art, PDF workbooks, Answer Keys, and Exams. - See more at:

Roman Roads Media has quite a few other really great products being reviewed - to check out the other reviews~ click the banner!

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Glideware {Guest Review and Giveaway}

{This is a sponsored post and may contain affiliate links.}

This is the first time I have heard of Glideware. It is something that I definitely want to look into for my kitchen (and other places in the house). In fact my husband and I had a conversation today about going through all our cupboards and doing a major organization. 
This guest post was written by Heather @Thrift Schooling about her experiences with Glideware. 

Last year, I introduced you to a brand new product in the making, Glideware. At that point, the company was only in it's beginning stages. Now, only a year later, Glideware has grown leaps and bounds. After an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, Glideware was able to raise the funds needed to get their product into production and into the hands of the consumer.

Recently, Glideware has been showcased in Kitchen and Bath Design News Magazine, listed as one of their creative storage solutions. Glideware was also featured in Builder Magazine and even Bob Vila listed it as one of 10 New Kitchen Products to Make Your Life Better! And I will tell you from experience, that this product does in fact make your life better! Seriously. Look at how I stored my pans in my Pre-Glideware days. How sad.

And now? I can access my pans with ease. And yes, those are CAST IRON pans. I wasn't sure at first if this product would hold my heavy duty cast iron collection, but actually, it works wonders! The problem I always had with these pans was the weight. Having them stacked on top of one another was clearly not ideal and trying to lift the top pans to get to the bottom one was not good for my wrists! Having Glideware installed in the cabinet right next to my stove has clearly saved time and reduced frustration when working in the kitchen. I use these pans pretty much every day, so having an easy storage solution has made my cooking experiences run more smoothly. The fact that the pans are hanging separately and not touching one another helps to keep them in pristine condition. If you are storing stainless steel or non-stick pans, then using Glideware will help prevent them from from scratching one another. For me, I've noticed that it helps prevent rust on my cast iron pans since they aren't touching each other. 

When you order your Glideware unit, you will receive what is pictured in the far left photo. All you will need to install your Glideware unit is a simple screw gun. Ours was installed in a matter of minutes! Once your unit is in place, you can attach the seven metal hooks. I like that the consumer can place the hooks themselves so they can space them out according their own particular needs. In my case, some pans are wider than others so I like the option of moving the hooks back and forth as needed. 

For $199 you can make life at home a breeze!

Whether you simply want to give your old kitchen cabinets a makeover as I did or if you are working on a remodel, consider making room for Glideware, you'll be glad you did!

Glideware has graciously offered a $200 Amazon Giftcard to one of my readers! Simply enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US and Canada Only
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Winner has 48 hours to Respond

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3P Learning - Mathletics Review {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Mathletics Online Math Review

We were introduce to 3P Learning and their Mathletics program when my children were in public school. They used to compete online as a class once a year. So I was very interested to find out more about the full program.

3P Learning is not just about math. It also offers online learning in reading, spelling, and science. The programs are available world wide and is fully aligned with over a dozen international curricula including the Common Core Standards. As you can tell by my first comment it can be used by schools as well at home. In fact they have 4 million students in over 17,000 school across the world.

Mathletics  is not a full math curriculum. It is designed to be a supplemental math program, because of this it is perfect for schools, home schools, or just family's just wanting to help their kids get some extra math skills.

Mathletics Online Math Review

What we got to try:

We were given a full year subscription to Mathletics for two students. The program is suitable for K-12. Little J has been using this subscription and we have bounced around the K and 1st grade options this summer.
The first thing I had to do was set up Little J's grade and if you want to set 'tasks' you would do that too. I only assigned tasks once, Little J preferred to have a little more freedom.
When I first signed Little J in I signed him up for 1st grade as we have completed our Kindergarten curriculum and have started our 1st grade one. However, he found this a little difficult and because I want to treat this as a 'supplemental'  fun program I decided to move him back to the kindergarten level. He actually found this level a bit easy but we found it excellent for reinforcement and review.

Little J loved that he could set up an avatar - of course he chose a green shirt!

When working in the normal section the screen will light up with the scores that they have achieved in a certain area as you can see below. It also shows you how many points they have received that week.

The program recommends using the program for three twenty minute time slots per week. Little J didn't last this long. He would play for about 10 minutes. He liked the 'Live Mathletics Challenge' program. He loved how this showed a map of the world as it hunted for people to 'play with him'. Unfortunately he was never really fast enough even though the program showed me that he was in 'Level 1'. 

There are so many links on the page if I left him alone he would just keep clicking on different sections and never really complete anything. You can see how tempting the list below is! (He did stay on the Times Tables Toons section for a while.

 One of the most important parts of this program for me was that it works perfectly on Little J's Nexus. So many other programs are just i-pad compatible it's frustrating. Once I downloaded the special free app it was a breeze to set up. Little J loved playing this on his pad. There is an online and offline program so you can play it on the road - which is great because sometimes Little J gets frustrated that he can't play some of his favorite apps in the car. This option makes the program 'math in the car' viable too! The program updates when you have WiFi so your scores update. The only thing I couldn't work out was how to save the password to log in. This was a little frustrating, as it would remember the username but not the password. Luckily I was able to remember his password easily, but Little J couldn't which meant every time he wanted to play I had to be around to log him in.There are a few options like end of unit tests, rainforest maths, and times tables that are not available on the android application. Every week I received an email about Little J's online activity. This email would probably be more helpful with an older child as I was always sat next to Little J when he was online.

Along with the computer program and android apps there are PDF workbooks than can be downloaded and printed. I did look at these but we didn't use any during the review period. I will definitely single out a couple though for later in the year if we need to review a particular topic.

All in all this program works quite well. Little J never really asked to use it, but never complained when I suggested it either. I preferred the version for Android as it contained a lot less distractions than the computer version. In the end we only used this on the Android unless we had to take a unit test.

Mathletics is designed for grade K-12 and they offer a free trial. Right now you can buy a 12 month home  subscription for $59.00 per student.

There is so many features and ages available for this program I would recommend clicking on the link below to read what others thought.

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Math Essentials - Math Refresher for Adults {TOS REVIEW}

Anyone who knows me knows that math is not my favorite subject! Any math questions from high school definitely get directed to my math-l...