TOS Review Crew: Roman Roads Media

Roman Roads Media Review
Roman Roads Media is the producer of some really wonderful classical Christian education courses in DVD format.  We LOVE the products we’ve used already from them, and were very excited to be able to review Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1.  American History is not my favorite era of history (I know, don’t judge me!), so finding a good, comprehensive video series that will keep them engaged is awesome.  Dave Raymond’s American History fit the bill, complete with videos, readers, and a portfolio project for the kids to complete.



Roman Roads Media Review
Dave Raymond’s American History is available in two parts on DVD, and soon, in downloadable format, and comes with 26 video based lessons (broken up into Part 1 and Part 2–13 lessons each), along with student readers and a teacher’s guide in ebook format.  The readers and guide come in a number of different formats, including ePUB, MOBI, and PDF, which I love.  It makes it easy to download them to any device I need to, and send it to everyone who needs it’s Kindle or whatever they’re using at that moment.  Very, very, convenient.  Part One covers MesoAmerica through The Constitution, and Part Two covers George Washington through Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.  Together, following the lesson plan, it is worth 1 high school US History credit.  For this review, we used Part 1, and have just finished learning about the Puritans.

Each lesson has 5 parts, and, ideally, you complete 1 part a day, finishing one lesson a week.  There are projects, speeches, research papers, and a portfolio to be completed, and the teacher’s guide gives you plenty of ideas to help your student along.  Each day, there is a 10-15 minute video to watch, followed by an assignment, reading, and/or portfolio work.  In the teacher’s guide, there are exam questions for you to evaluate your student after each lesson.  We found the videos to be engaging and have really enjoyed them.

The portfolio is a huge part of the curriculum.  Mr. Raymond really stressed that this should be very well done, and something that the student will be glad to show people.  Some of the portfolio work, such as sketching navigational instruments with a compass, are quite difficult.  It really drives home the lesson, though, and I think it’s a wonderful tool.  It reminded me a lot of how we approach our main lesson books, and I love this part of the curriculum.  Note taking was also introduced, which I appreciated.  We’ve worked a lot on note-taking this year, and I think they’re really improving in this aspect.

Although Dave Raymond’s American History is suggested for grades 6th and up, I would put this at a high school level, or possibly, 8th grade, depending on the student.  It is quite rigorous, and the expectations are set high.  Since it does give you a high school credit, it seems best to me to wait until I can actually use that credit.

Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1 is available for $100 at Roman Roads Media. Part 2 is another $100, but they are an outstanding value, IMO, in that this set is very well done, and able to be used through multiple children.  ((NOTE:  At the time of this writing, each part is on sale for $75!  That’s a great deal, and I really recommend taking them up on it!)  There is a sample lesson available, so do make sure you look through it and see what you think.  Although we won’t be using it again for at least a year or two, I am starting to collect courses from Roman Roads Media to use in our high school.  I’m very happy with this, and everything I’ve used of theirs, and are excited to continue with Roman Roads Media.

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TOS Review Crew: Analytical Grammar

Analytical Grammar Review
I hated writing book reports growing up. Now, I can see the purpose in them, but I dreaded teaching them, because I hated writing them.  And so I haven’t.  But now, I’ve found a great course that will do it for me in a fun, not-your-typical-book-report way!  I have found the Beyond the Book Report program from Analytical Grammar, and the kids are having so much fun!

Analytical Grammar Review
Beyond the Book Report is a research and essay writing program from Analytical Grammar, designed for middle-to-early-high-schoolers.  There is a three year schedule that you can use for grades 6th, 7th, and 8th, or a 2 year program if you’re beginning in grade 8, and continuing through 9.  We’re using this program with Kaitlyn (13, 7th grade) and Danny (11, 6th grade), and we’re going to be putting them through the 3 year program.

There are three “Seasons” in the Beyond the Book Report program.  Season One teaches literary analysis, paraphrasing, summarizing, and journalism, and has the student write three different types of book reports:  a basic book report, a pamphlet book report, and a journalism book report.  Season Two focuses on poetry and drama, including figurative language and stage forms.  Season Three moves into the fundamental aspects of research and essay writing, and adds in public speaking.  All together, they are a solid informative writing curriculum for the middle school years.

Beyond the Book Report is video based, and each Season comes with a DVD for your student to watch.  In addition, there are printables, including slides to print off so the students can practice taking notes as they listen to the DVD.  There is also a teacher’s binder, which gives detailed instructions and shows you how to use the program in a 2 or 3 year schedule, three days a week.

We really liked this program.  It lays out everything from choosing the book and getting it approved, to writing really interesting reports.  Season Three even takes the student into things that I just wouldn’t think about, like writing an SAT essay.  The videos were not too long for my middle schoolers to watch, and Kaitlyn is starting to improve on her note taking, I’ve noticed, while watching them.  Since I am in college online, I know this is not the easiest skill for me to develop, and one I want her to have down before she heads off to college.  There are also rubrics not just for me, but for the kids.  Again, as an online college student, I love this, because I routinely go back to my own rubrics for papers I turn in.  That wasn’t available to me in high school, so getting into that habit now is excellent for my kids, in my opinion.

We kicked up the program’s schedule slightly for summer, but I’m really looking forward to taking the kids through it again this year at the slower, 3-day-a-week pace.  While they’ve learned a lot, I think they’ll be able to glean even more when we go through it again.  And, they’re not complaining about the idea, which I love.  Kaitlyn, especially, is really enjoying the drama aspects (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which she adores, anyway), and I want her to enjoy it without feeling rushed.  This is definitely something we’re keeping around long term.

Beyond the Book Report is available for $24.95 per season, or, you can bundle all three seasons together for $69.95.  Make sure you head to the Beyond the Book Report page, where you’ll get a thorough breakdown of exactly what each Season, and each report, consists of.  This is a really great, step by step program that will take ALL of the guesswork out of teaching your children how to write informative research papers and essays, as well as teach them to study poetry and drama.  We’re really looking forward to continuing with Beyond the Book Report.

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Busy Busy Summer!!

I haven’t been posting a lot this summer, and I’m sorry about that.  It’s been so busy, and has just flown away from me!!  Here’s a little taste of what we’ve been doing this summer!


Kaitlyn had Leadership Camp for Girls at Austin Peay University.  She had a great time, and met lots of other girls her age.  They talked to other young women about their careers, and what led them there, including a police officer, a young woman in the Army Cadet program, and a teacher.  It’s hard to believe my baby girl turned 13 this year! She’s becoming such a young lady!

Kaitlyn 13


Last week, the big kids went to summer camp at St. John’s Camp in Mitchell, Indiana.  It was their first year at this camp, the first year of camp at all for Danny, and I was a bit worried.  But, I shouldn’t have been!  They had a great time, and made tons of friends.  They had a great time swimming, canoeing (Danny even got tipped into the river!) and tons of camp activities.  The camp is a small, Orthodox camp, and they were really able to get to know everyone.  Awesome fun!

This week is VBS at our church, so I’ll post pictures of what fun they have there.  Then, we have Shakespeare at the Park still coming up, and, of course, we have our weekly playdates, Farmer’s Market and general summer fun!  We have corn to freeze, lightening bugs to catch, and so much to do!

One more month or so before we start school, and the end to lazy summer days.  :)

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs.  Here she is with a new snail friend.

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs. Here she is with a new snail friend.


The snail went to live in our new fairy village.  Since this was taken, we've added a fairy dinette set.  ;-)  There is a booth at the Farmer's Market that sells these, and they're a huge hit here!

The snail went to live in our new fairy village. Since this was taken, we’ve added a fairy dinette set. ;-) There is a booth at the Farmer’s Market that sells these, and they’re a huge hit here!


Dyeing Playsilks with Kids

Dyeing Playsilks with Kids


This week, we had another wonderful get-together with our local Waldorf playgroup!  This time, we decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time–dye playsilks with the kids!!  Playsilks are wonderful, open-ended toys that have a million and one uses.  Basically, they’re scarves.  Just silk scarves.  You can dye them in a multitude of ways, I’ve even seen people paint the most beautiful silks.  Children can use them for pretty much anything.  Ours, at the moment, are flags, hair kerchiefs, capes, blankets, and beds.  they also make great backdrops for puppet shows, playscapes…whatever you can imagine!  We even have a couple of sets of handkerchief sized silks that I’m going to make puppets out of!


We ordered our silks from the Dharma Trading Co.  They give discounts for bulk orders, and so we just all went in together, and it worked out really well.  The dyeing process itself was pretty simple, much more simple than I thought it would be!!  We got kool-aid, and more or less used the mixtures we found at Tried and True.  We did find that the the darker blue there ended up a fairly dark purple instead.  So, we only had light blue.  It was OK, though, it made the prettiest silks, kind of mottled, with what looks like clouds.  PERFECT for sky play!


We mixed the kool aid packets with 1/2 cup of vinegar, and stirred very well.  Then, we added warm water to fill the quart sized mason jars, covered, and shook VERY well to mix completely.  After that, it was crazy simple.  We wetted the silks in clean water, and then squeezed out the excess.  Then, we put the dampened silks into the jars and let them sit. We didn’t have a time period, just until we figured they were done.  We then took the silks out of the jar, and squeezed out the excess kool aid.  Then, we put them in ziploc freezer bags, and popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes. (Hint:  Don’t seal your bag all of the way, it WILL pop!)  Remove the bags, and let them cool for a few minutes, then microwave them again for 2 more minutes.  When they’re cool enough to handle, we rinsed them in the sink, until the water ran clear.  Honestly, it didn’t take that long, the dye set VERY quickly in the microwave!  In fact, our hostess remarked about how much more quickly the dye set than when she had used Wilton dyes to dye playsilks before.


After the silks were rinsed, we just hung them on the porch to dry!  The kids played and the moms talked, and, as usual, it was a beautiful afternoon.  I absolutely love our local playgroup.  We have the most lovely bunch of women, and I’m so blessed to be part of them.


So, a couple of tips:  Wear gloves if you don’t like your fingers and nails being stained.  Most of the kool aid has come off of my fingers, but my nails are still a charming shade of maroon.  ;)  Also, we ended up with lots of mottled-looking silks.  I think a bigger jar, pot, or bowl would work better if you wanted a “perfect” silk.  For us, I like the organic looking imperfect ones.  :)  My kids love them all, so it’s all good. ;-)


We had so much fun dyeing playsilks, and I had bought a TON, so I still have more to dye!  We’ll be working on these the rest of the summer, perfecting our shades and process, I’m sure.

Have you ever dyed playsilks?  What’s your favorite make-it-at-home toy?  Leave a comment and let me know!

TOS Review Crew: Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page


Working by units is such a fun way to really dive into a subject.  We’ve found a great resource to help us find quality, well put together units on a huge variety of subjects, and we’re excited to share Moving Beyond the Page with you!  For this review, Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me review the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm online (designed for ages 12-14) and the Science Package-Health and Nutrition (also for ages 12-14, physical copy).

Animal Farm image

First let’s start with the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm.  We reviewed the online version of this unit.  The online unit is $22.99, and comes with online access to the unit, along with a physical copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm shipped to you.  The unit is accessed online, but you will need to print out the Student Activity Pages.  Each day that you use the program, the student logs on and begins the lesson they are working on.  They’ll see a screen like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 9.41.04 AM

As you can see, when they finish a lesson, the program crosses it off for them, so they never lose their place, and YOU know exactly where they are. Each lesson is broken down into 3 categories:  Getting Started, Activities, and Conclusion.  The Getting Started section tells the student what they’ll be focusing on for this lesson, and lets them know if there are any supplies they need before they start.  (Generally, we found the supplies to be things we had around the house–drawing paper and supplies was the most common.)  This is where the Reading and Questions activity is located, comprehension questions for the reading.  The student can fill in the answers on the computer and then print them out.  When the Parent Overview is turned on, the answers are displayed for you to check your student’s work:

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 9.53.24 AM
In the Activities section, there are a variety of activities and options for the child to choose.  Part of the activities includes the Student Activity Pages.  These, I think, were wonderful.  They take the student, using the literature, through grammar and writing.  Sometimes there are quizzes, as well.  Generally, we found this section invaluable, and Kaitlyn spent quite a bit of time doing research about the Russian Revolution to complete the activities.  She’s really learned a lot!!

Finally, there is the conclusion page, which wraps up the unit.  Pressing the “Finish Lesson” button lets the program know that you’ve completed that lesson, and it crosses it off of the list for you.  There’s also an IdeaShare page, where parents can share ideas to bring the lesson to life.  I think IdeaShare is an AWESOME idea, but for this unit, the IdeaShare was empty, so we didn’t get to utilize it all that much.  In addition, there is a Final Project, a 3-day project that concludes the Unit (along with a Unit Test).  For the Animal Farm unit, it took the student through writing a formal letter (a theme throughout the unit), and taking them step by step through the process.

Kaitlyn liked that it was online, and she really liked how it taught her how to write proper letters.  (Prince Charming and I are both in college at the moment, and writing has been a HUGE deal here lately.  Learning how to properly write is high on her list-of-things-I-must-accomplish-right-now, so she was paying real attention to that part.  And, it was done in an interesting way that helped keep her attention.)  She also enjoyed learning about Russia.  We have the kids learning Russian this year, and with the conflicts in Eastern Europe right now, it ended up being a great time to study Animal Farm.  Since I, um, never actually read Animal Farm, the help this unit gave me to dive deeper into the themes for her was wonderful.  Overall, this unit went VERY well, and I was quite impressed.


Health and Nutrition cover


We also got to review the Science Package-Health and Nutrition.  Kaitlyn also helped me with this one.  I’ve been knowing for a while I probably should do an actual Health unit with her, and I’m pretty sure I’m legally required to do one… at some time… But I hated health class growing up, so I’ve been putting it off.  This unit made it so easy, though.  We used the physical copy of this book.  The Health and Nutrition physical package costs $46.89, and comes with the spiral-bound workbook and a copy of both The Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen and The Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen, written by Dr. Ann Middleton, MD.  In the workbook you’ll find a list of required books and materials (the only required books are the two listed, and the materials list is, once again, easy, household materials).  There is also a vocabulary list, and then you dive right into the 6 lessons:  Feelings, Being a Smart Consumer, Healthy Body, Healthy Relationships, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs, and Nutrition and Exercise.  At the end, there is a Final Project, where the student designed their own Personal Plan for Mental and Physical Health.  There’s also a Parent Overview, with keys, an Age Level Overview, and a Summary of Skills, which would be wonderfully helpful if you need to supply detailed plans to the state.  Also included is a suggested Typical Day plan.

Kaitlyn learned a lot from the Health and Nutrition Study.  You should be prepared for a bit of online work with this one, as well, as the student has research they’ll need to complete.  Overall, this unit was pretty straight-forward, but Kaitlyn enjoyed it quite a bit, and learned a lot.

Moving Beyond the Page can definitely be used full time, and gives you guides to do just that.  There are multiple levels, and you can shop by age or subject.  The ages begin at 4-5 years old through 12-14, and the subjects include Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Reading.  We enjoyed these, and I really liked how the final projects wrapped it all up and helped put the bow on the unit, so to speak.  You can buy Moving Beyond the Page as a complete year plan, or as individual units.

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TOS Review Crew: Veritas Press’ Self Paced Omnibus I

VP Omnibus


My kids are getting into the upper grades.  I have one officially heading into middle school this year.  That, frankly, is terrifying to me.  Plus, I have my Second Wave, four little ones coming up behind my two big kids.  It’s time I readjusted some things, and finding courses that the big kids can do themselves, that still provides a strong, rigorous education is high on our priority list for the next few years.  With that in mind, I was really excited to begin reviewing Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I, the new self-paced option for middle-and-high-schoolers from Veritas Press.  Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me with this review.



Veritas Press Review
Veritas Press has been noted as a premiere curriculum provider for those looking to use the classical method in their homeschools and even in brick-and-mortar schools.  Now, they’re offering their highly-recommended Omnibus I program in a self-paced format for middle-to-high-schoolers.  The Omnibus I Primary Course is $295 for a year’s access.  The Omnibus I Primary Self-Paced Course Kit with the Omnibus ebook is $151.32, and the kit with no ebook is $137.63.  If this is the first child you have going through Omnibus, you’re going to want the ebook.

Veritas Press Review
So, how does it work?  After you register, you child will have access to the course, a series of videos, games, and quizzes.  Each day, on your schedule, you access the course.  Most days, there is also outside reading that will be required for the course.  During the review period, we read out of the Bible books of Genesis and Exodus, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.  There are sensitive topics that will be worked through during Omnibus.  Omnibus comes with an advisory to teachers and parents:  It is assumed that the course will only be used with students in 7th grade and up, and those dialectic-aged students are able to biblically discuss topics such as sex and violence, and that there is no part of the Bible inappropriate to discuss with students.  So, this is not necessarily a course you want to just set your kids at and go.  This course will require teacher involvement.  Your children will probably have questions, and you will want to be there to discuss with them.  We also found Omnibus to have a very overt Calvinistic/Reformed tone, so if that’s not your theology, you’d want to take that into consideration, as well.

The course covers the topics of Worldview, Literature, Bible, History, Theology, Art Appreciation, and can cover writing.  It’s not all-inclusive, though, and while this would be a solid core, you’ll need to add in math, science, and foreign language.  That said, in the subjects covered, it is quite in depth.  Omnibus travels throughout history, with Omnibus I covering the Ancient Period, from Creation until AD 70.  Omnibus is designed to be started at 7th grade, so the emphasis is on Logic in the first three years.

Each section of Omnibus is divided into sessions:  Session I is the Prelude, and gives an overall study of the topic.  Sessions II and III are Discussion.  In these sections, you analyze and discuss the topic.  Session IV is Recitation, this is when the comprehension and thinking comes in.  And Session V is Evaluation, with wonderful review questions to get your child thinking deeply.  There are also Optional Sessions if you want to go deeper.  We found that each day of Omnibus I took us at least 2 hours to go through, between the online segment, discussions, and readings.

Kaitlyn’s favorite part of the course was the Art Appreciation.  She loved learning about the Sistine Chapel, and taking a detailed look at some of those scenes.  I have an art guide on my Bible app, and she spent quite a while looking though other scenes of the Sistine Chapel on that, after studying it in Omnibus.

So, what did we like about Omnibus I?  Well, we loved that it was online and self paced.  The quality is really top notch.  While we did encounter some glitches, they were generally worked through pretty quickly, and I have a feeling that a few of them had to do with us being on an iPad instead of on a regular computer.  (NOTE:  You do need Flash to use Omnibus I.  During the review, my hard drive crashed, and we had to move to the iPad.  We found that by downloading a Flash-appropriate browser for iPad we were able to continue to use Omnibus on the iPad.  I would recommend using it primarily on a regular computer, though.)  I liked how deep it went into each subject, and required Kaitlyn to think hard and really expand her writing skills.

What didn’t we like?  I didn’t like the way the Omnibus ebook was set up.  You have to download another program to access it, it just seemed to add a complication in.  I would have preferred it to be in a PDF file or something similar.  Also, you can’t print it off, which, for someone who really works best when physically taking notes, this can be a struggle.  You can, however, highlight, so there is that.

Omnibus is quite Reformed.  You need to be prepared for that, if you are going to use this.  If you do not adhere to the Reformed theology, be prepared to sit with your child and have a lot of discussions throughout the program.  The theology can be a pro to some, and a con to others.  It really depends on your family.

Overall, while this is not something that is going to work for our family, it would be a wonderful resource for many, many families, especially those who are really desiring a classical education for their children.

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TOS Review Crew: Go Science

Science is so much fun!  And it’s better when you have a really great DVD to help you through it.  Recently, we had the opportunity to review a couple of the Go Science DVDs sold by Library and Educational Services.  For this review, we were able to use Volume 2:  Life Science and Weather and Volume 6:  Chemistry.

Go Science Review
The Go Science DVDs are recommended for ages 4-12.  We found this appropriate on the lower end, but I wouldn’t use these for kids above 10 or so.  My older kids (11 and 13) were somewhat engaged by them, but not nearly as much as the littles were.  The DVDs have a running time of about 1 hour.  During each DVD Ben Roy, your host who teaches science methods at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, takes real kids through real experiments to give them hands on, real life examples of the scientific concepts they’re learning.  At the end of every demonstration, he points the children back to the Creator, by saying,  “The more that we learn about science, the more that we learn about our Creator–God!”


Go Science Review

The experiments on the Go Science DVDs are simple, but fun to do.  Some of the experiments can be replicated at home.  There are some, though (the Fire Tornado comes to mind…) that you just wouldn’t want to do.  That’s OK, though, this is a really fun supplement to watch, and he takes the child through the experiment and explains it well, so you don’t have to do them at home. Ben Roy is engaging and entertaining, and the experiments are a lot of fun to watch.  Volume 6: Chemistry was my kids’ favorite.  The experiments were a ton of fun to watch.

Go Science Review
The Go Science DVDs are available in 7 volumes:

Volume 1:  Sound, Gravity, and Space

Volume 2:  Life Science, Weather

Volume 3:  Air 1, Air 2

Volume 4:  Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light

Volume 5:  States of Matter, Water

Volume 6:  Chemistry 1, Chemistry 2

Volume 7:  Engineering, Design, Flight

There’s plenty to keep your child engaged.  They will run you $8.97 at Library and Educational Services, which I found to be very reasonable for these DVDs.  I have to say they’re a really great company.  (Homeschoolers qualify for their Wholesale Prices, just so y’all know. :) ) I had an issue (of my own making) with shipping, and they were on it, courteous, and got it resolved in amazing time.  I was really happy with the customer service.

Go Science Review
As I mentioned, my little ones really loved these DVDs, and watch them over and over. There were TONS of “oohs” and “ahhs”.  My big kids, they were still engaged, but not at the same level.  They liked them, but I also saw them disengaging quite a bit.  I would say that, while they’re recommended for ages 4-12, that’s a bit too big of a range, and are more appropriate for 4-10-ish.  Of course, this would depend on the child and family.

With tons of topics to choose from and a format that continuously places the emphasis back squarely on the Creator, we really enjoyed the Go Science DVDs.  We would not hesitate to recommend them to other families, and even school teachers, as a wonderful, fun science supplement.

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Rhythm: The Heartbeat of the Home

rhythm heartbeat

Establishing a good rhythm is probably the single most important you can do to help your home and homeschool run smoothly.  But, we ran into a problem where our big kids, especially, looked at our written rhythm as a “to do” list, and were balking against it.  We needed to come up with a good way to help them understand what rhythm is, and why it’s important to us.  Here’s what we came up with:


Rhythm is the heartbeat of the home.  When rhythm is well established, it works like the heartbeat of our bodies.  We don’t need to think about it, it doesn’t require an obvious amount of effort on our part.  It’s habit. It becomes our heartbeat.  It ensures that our homes and our lives run smoothly.  It’s not something we have to focus on, because it’s just a part of our lives.

2014-02-02 17.51.50

What happens when we don’t establish good rhythm, though?  Some pediatricians think that SIDS could be caused by a newborn’s body rhythms not being established.  Until they moment they’re born, babies are intimately linked with their mother.  They spend their entire existence until birth listening to the rhythms of their mother’s body rhythms:  her heartbeat, her breathing.  When they’re born, however, they’re suddenly cut off from the reminders of the rhythm, the sounds of their mother.  Sometimes, they forget to maintain their rhythm–they forget to breathe or continue their heartbeats.  The results can, of course, be tragic.

2014-03-15 18.09.26

It’s the same way with our home rhythms.  If we don’t establish a good rhythm, the results for our home can be disastrous.  Chaos and discontent can reign, and life becomes a series of putting out fires.  We don’t have the time to enjoy our lives and our families, because we’re too busy working hard to make sure life doesn’t spiral out of control.  Establishing a good rhythm that works for everyone in the home is key to ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, our physical hearts still need some help.  If you’ve ever dealt with heart rhythm issues, you know that they will rock your world.  Problems with your heart can affect every part of your life.  I had heart rhythm issues during my pregnancy wish Sean.  It was awful.  I was exhausted, all of the time.  I would sleep most of the day away, and still be tired enough to sleep hard all night long, long past when pregnancy fatigue should have been over.  It was like nothing I’d ever experienced, or have since, even in two subsequent pregnancies.  Everything in our lives went downhill quick, because my internal rhythm was off.

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In the same way, sometimes, even after we have established our rhythm, it might get off-kilter.  Sometimes, it needs readjusting, for a season or for good.  Sometimes, we might need outside help reestablishing or creating a good rhythm, just like we might need a doctor’s help when our heart rhythms get off.  This is where really wonderful mentors come in, who know you and love you and can help you get back on track, or get on a new track.


Rhythm is the heartbeat of our days.  When running smoothly, it can give us a steady, constant beat.  Every family, every person, has their own daily rhythm.  The key is making sure it works for you.  Is it supplying you with peace, calm, and joyful days?  Or, is your rhythm causing your days to be exhausting, chaotic, and stress-filled?  I highly encourage you to spend time this week in prayer and meditation over your rhythm.  If you have a mentor that you can sit down with, ask for their thoughts about your family rhythm, and make it work for you.

Summer Reading for the Dialectic Stage

Dialectic reading


My middle schooler has suddenly found a LOVE of reading!  Really, it’s miraculous.  I’m so excited for her, and to make sure that she’s encouraged in her reading, I’ve put together a reading list for this summer I REALLY hope she loves!


1)  The Anne of Green Gables Series.  All of them are on her list, if she wants to read them.  She’s read quite a few of them, I’m letting her go as she wants to.  :)

2) The Chronicles of Narnia.  Kaitlyn and Danny are both planning on taking an online course taking them through The Chronicles of Narnia this summer, so these are on their list, too.


3) Christy by Catherine Marshall. I LOVED this book when I was her age, about a missionary woman who went to Appalachia. Absolutely love this story.

4) God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. Kaitlyn has discovered a love of missionary stories. I definitely want to encourage this.

5) The Lord of the Rings Kaitlyn’s almost finished with this series, but not quite, so I’m including it for her to finish.

This list is much smaller than the Grammar Stage List I made, primarily because there are 3 collections in it, but this will give her MORE than enough to read this summer! What are your middle schoolers read during the summer? Leave me a comment and let me know! And make sure you click the banner below (live on 6/25/14) to find out what the rest of the Crew is reading!

Summer Reading for Middle Grades

Fun Resources for US Independence Day!

4th of July


I know a lot of homeschoolers don’t take off for summer, or any holidays, really.  There is SO much to learn during the holidays, and during the summer!  Combine the two, and you’re in for a really great unit!  Here is a round up of some of the great Independence Day Resources I’ve found on Pinterest.  Make sure you’re following me there!

Learning Sites

Celebrate our Founding Mothers!  Learn about the women of the Revolution!

Independence Day Historical Background

Fun Facts about Independence Day

Sons of Liberty Song from Walt Disney’s Johnny Tremain

55 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day

Liberty Kids #13 ~ The First Fourth of July


Lapbooks and Unit Studies

Homeschooling in High Heels 4th of July Lapbook

Free 4th of July Lapbook from Lapbook Lessons

Independence Day Speedy Lapbook

Amanda Bennett Unit Study Independence Day


Worksheets and Printables

Social Studies Vocabulary

4th of July Comprehension Packet

Independence Day Matching Cards

Coloring Sheets

Independence Day Bundle

Assorted printables (math, puzzles, vocabulary…)

4th of July Readers

More assorted printables (patterns, numbers, ect.)

Calendar Printables for 4th of July

Independence Day Journal



American Flag Art

Watercolor Fireworks

Write out the Declaration of Independence

Fireworks in a Jar

Beaded Suncatchers

Puffy Fireworks

Painting Fireworks (outdoor activity)

4th of July Tees



Patriotic Popcorn

12 Patriotic Holiday Food Ideas

Red, White, and Blue flavored water

Blueberry, Strawberry, and Jicama Salsa

4th of July Picnic Recipes

Brownie Fruit Kabobs

Fruit Flag

Filled Strawberries

4th of July Rice Krispy Treats

Strawberry and Pretzel Salad

Hot Dog Rockets


There are TONS more activities, crafts, decorations, and recipes on my 4th of July board over at Pinterest, so make sure you’re following me!


Do you have any special traditions for celebrating Independence Day?  Leave me a comment!  And don’t forget to check out what the rest of the Crew found around the web for 4th of July!  Click the banner below (live on 6/18/14).