Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Review

Do you need an English Literature course for your homeschooled highschooler? Then you might want to check out Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Writing with Sharon Watson.

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This is a huge and fun Highschool Literature course.  It is designed to be used by students in the 9 grad and up.   It covers a full year (2 semesters) of learning.  You can earn 1 Highschool English or Language Arts credit for completing the course. Lots of humor is woven through out the lessons and lightens the normal mood of studying literature.   The course is made up of a Student Text, Teacher’s Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, and the Novel Notebook and in addition there is 8 additional literature story books to buy or borrow to complete the course work.

Student Manual

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285 Page, Large Softback Book

70 Lessons divided into 8 chapters.

Self directed.

Retails for $39.49

Teacher’s Guide

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182 Page, Large Softback Book

All 70 Lesson Plans

Teaching Tips

Retails for $16.49

Quiz and Answer Manual

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101 Page, Softback Book

Retails for $8.49

Novel Notebook

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102 Page PDF Download

Has lots of comprehension activities related to each fictional novel the students read during this course.


Additional Reading

Students will read 1 literature book a month during the course.  The author says she chose the books based on their potential to help students apply moral, ethical, spiritual, and biblical Godly life choices.  These additional books are sold separately on the web site, or you can purchase them at online bookstores, or pick them up at the local library.

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

What Is Covered In This Course?

  • Text and context
  • Pseudonym (nom de plume)
  • Foreshadowing
  • Conflict types (against self, against society, inner, outer, and so on)
  • Protagonist,  Antagonist
  • Satire,  Irony
  • Theme
  • Allusion
  • Genre
  • Mood,  Tone
  • Symbol, Motif
  • Memento mori
  • Tense
  • Narrative shift
  • Deus ex machina
  • Memoir
  • Hero’s journey
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Backstory
  • Christ figure
  • Plot
  • Ironic ending
  • Plot stages (exposition, inciting incident, and so on)
  • Connotation,  Denotation
  • Alliteration,  Assonance
  • Simile,  Metaphor, Analogy
  • Apostrophe
  • Authorial intrusion
  • Hyperbole
  • Euphemism
  • Empathetic character
  • Reaction
  • Prolepsis (flashforward)
  • Mirror scenes
  • Setup and payoff
  • Telling detail
  • Loose (cumulative) sentences
  • Periodic sentences

How we used this curriculum in our home:

We were sent the Student Text, Teacher’s Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, the Novel Notebook PDF download, and two of the literature novels Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Illuminating Literature

The first thing I did when receiving this curriculum was to print off the FREE Novel Notebook, hole punch it and put it into a three ring binder to keep it organized.  Then we started reading the curriculum.


There are 8 Chapters expected to last you 2 semesters or about 9 months, a full school year of study.  Each chapter contains between 7 and 10 lessons each.  Each chapter corresponds to one of the literary reading books.


You have about a month to read each chapter, and the corresponding novel, and complete the learning assignments and quizzes.


My son is really enjoying this course.  He has completed reading the first supplemental book Pudd’nhead Wilson, and the 1st chapter of his student workbook.   When you begin a chapter, there are several lessons to complete before reading the novel.  Then there is time allotted to read the novel. This is when to fill in answers and notes in your Novel Notebook.  Finally the student goes back to the Student Book and completes the final lessons in the chapter.  Then they take a quiz.  The quiz can be done in writing or online. The teacher can grade the comprehension of each chapter with a Grading Grid found in the Teacher’s manual.

The next book he will be working on reading and deciphering is The War of the Worlds.  He is so excited about these books.  Both of these literature novels were sent to us for the purpose of the review.  I will need to purchase the remaining books for him to complete the course.   It takes him about an hour each day to work on his Student Workbook and reading.  He could spend half that much time, but he really gets into it and loves to read.  He would rather read than write in the workbook.   But I am so glad to see him put in genuine effort into this curriculum.  We are both excited about this course and so thankful to be adding it to my son’s school year this year.  He will be able to receive 1 credit for English on his Highschool transcript.

You can do this course as an individual or as part of a larger Coop or Book Club or even an online Facebook Book Club specific for this course.  Sharon gives many examples in the Teacher’s Manual about how to do this and has a list of suggested questions you can ask and leadership and participation ideas for the group too.  We chose not to be in a larger book club at this time and my son is enjoying working through the curriculum independently.

You can TRY BEFORE YOU BUY with these FREE download samples.  Check them out and see what a great course this is for your teen.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Sharon Watson on her social media links for all the latest news and updates.


Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Check out what other Homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using this curriculum in their home.

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Horizons Phonics and Reading Review

I have wanted to try Horizons by Alpha Omega Publications for years and our Horizons 1st Grade Phonics and Reading Set is finally here!  Oh happy day!

Horizons Phonics and Reading

Horizons 1st Grade
Phonics and Reading Set

Student Workbooks 1 & 2

Teacher’s Guide

Readers: The Fox In The Box & The Deer In The Woods

Retails $106.95


Horizon Curriculum Features:

  • Christian Workbook Curriculum
  • Reinforces Learning
  • Teacher-directed Curriculum
  • Hands-on Activities
  • Brightly Illustrated Pages
  • Fundamentals of Phonics
  • Letter Recognition
  • Memorization of Phonics / Spelling Rules
  • Word Relationships
  • Explore Phonetic Sounds
  • Practice Learned Concepts

Student Workbook 1

Lessons 1-80 plus 8 review tests.

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Student Workbook 2

Lessons 81-160 plus 8 review tests.

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Horizons helps kids learn to read with phonetic based word recognition. The curriculum contains 160 lessons dived between two student workbooks, and has a review test after every ten lessons.


The Fox In The Box & The Deer In The Woods

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There are corresponding stories to read together in the readers that go along with each lesson in the student workbook to expand the learning and reinforce the concepts.  The teacher assists with the reading until about lesson 40 when most students are able to read the stories on their own.  Then you are encouraged to have the students to go back and re-read the first 40 stories and practice the skills they have learned.

Teachers Guide

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The Teacher’s Guide is a huge 420 page book that contains all of the student lessons, teacher’s lesson plans, reproducibles, and answer keys.  There are flash cards in the back of the Teachers Guide as well as additional worksheets for the student.

Scope and Sequence:

Lessons 1-30
• Consonant and vowel sounds
• Silent “e”
• Consonant digraphs: th, ch, wh, bt, ph, gm, mn, ck, gh, gn, ch, tch, hn, kn, mb
• Vowel pairs: oa, ee, ie, ay, ai, ea, oe
• Consonant blends: cl, cr, bl, br, fl, gr, gl, sp, nd, nt, ng, nk, sk, mp, lp
• Suffixes: -ful, -ly, -less, -ness, -y, -en, -able
• Capitalization and punctuation

Lessons 31-60
• Consonant digraphs: mb, wh, wr, gn, hn, kn, ch
• Consonant blends: sc, scr, pl, sm, pr, tr, fr, sn, lk, lt, lf, ft, tw, sr
• Words with “x”
• Contractions: will plus not, have; am plus us, are, is
• Compound words
• Suffixes: -ing, -ed, -s, -es, -ful, – ness, -less, -ly, -y, -en, -able, -er, -est

Lessons 61-90
• Long vowels
• Writing lessons: story, letter, and personal narrative
• Vowel diphthongs
• Prefixes: re-, un-, dis-
• Beginning consonant blends with “r,” “l,” and “s”

Lessons 91-120
• “Y” as a vowel
• Consonant digraph checkups
• Writing lessons: report, thank-you note, and personal experience narrative
• Syllables: words with prefixes, suffixes, and compound words
• Synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms
• Alphabetical order to second letter

Lessons  121-160
• Words with the sounds “f” and “s”
• Writing lessons: imaginative story, poem, journal entry, and friendly letter
• Checkup: contractions, r-controlled vowels, prefixes, suffixes,
capitalization and punctuation, and plural words
• Irregular plurals
• Possessives

How we used Horizons 1st Grade Phonics and Reading in our home:

I have six kids and we have used Alpha Omega Life Pacs for part of our homeschool education. The Life Pac curriculum is awesome and worked great for some of my kids, but not great for all of them.  One of my kids who is a visual auditory learner, struggled with Life Pacs and would often resort to arguing if I asked him to work in his workbooks after I explained the lesson.   Over time I came to realize he needed more color and less information on a page than what Life Pacs offer.   I read on their website about Horizons and have had it on my wish list since.  His younger sister learns just like he did and this time around we can learn reading skills without the frustration and arguing which is a tremendous blessing!


We have been using the Student Workbook 1 and the Reader Book 1 in the set everyday so far since they arrived, we have also taken it on trips in the van too.   She doesn’t leave the house without putting it in her backpack.  We put the diffuser with her favorite essential oils (Peppermint and Wild Orange) that promote focus close by her so she can enjoy it as she studies.  This has been a fun treat for her to set up as she gets ready to study and promotes her active participation and focus.  Then we sit side by side as she goes through her assignments. First she learns a grammatical rule and she practices applying it in fill in the blanks, sounding out words and circling the correct options that go with colorful pictures, word searches, crossword puzzles, and more.  She is doing great.

Since my daughter was struggling in her reading skills last year, I felt it would be best to go back to the 1st grade level and learn the basics with this curriculum instead of putting her in the 2nd grade level at this time. My hope is that she will really be excited about this and we can move ahead to the 2nd grade level half way through the year if all goes well.   What I am realizing is that I need to purchase another student workbook and have her and her younger brother go through this course together at the same time.  She learns better by observing.  He learns better by just having it explained and then he takes off and gets it done independently.  It would help her to watch him and learn with him together.


I am thrilled!  More importantly my daughter is motivated to do her workbook.  She is making progress each day over the past several weeks and this course will help lay a solid foundation for reading, writing, and spelling for her this school year.  This curriculum is everything I had hoped it would be.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Alpha Omega Publications on their social media links for all the latest news and updates.
Google Plus:

Alpha Omega Review

Check out what other homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using Horizons curriculum products with their kids.

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Field Trip To Jimmy Johns

Jimmy John’s Field Trip

We set out to find out if Jimmy Johns was as good or better than Subway or other sandwich shops we have tried.  Was it as good as everyone says?  How does a restaurant like this become so successful?

Our stop at Jimmy Johns was a new experience for us.  The shop has a fun atmosphere and special names for every submarine sandwich.


For example, one sandwich is called The Gut Buster.  The sandwiches have a fixed description, and that is what is in the sandwich.  You don’t really customize them, but you can add additional meat.  This is the real secret to how fast you are served, no one is standing around deciding what fixings are going in their sandwich.  Instead you choose the sandwich design from the menu that best fits your taste buds.


We let the children choose their sandwich, and choice of chips, and we all had waters to drink. The bread is very soft and fresh.


The room is decorated with signs on the walls with words of wisdom for life.  My older boys laughed all the way through the meal while reading these signs.


For example, one sign was titled Rules of Life I have learned, and here are two of them “Under any circumstance, never take a sleeping pill and a laxative before going to bed” and many more that my kids laughed the whole way through the meal reading.  They had funny signs and there was probably about 20 different signs posted around the room.

Jimmy Johns

Field Trip: New restrurant experience. We took a trip to Ohio and stopped at a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop because we had never been before.

There were pamphlets on the wall encouraging those who would like to open a franchise to fill it out and contact Jimmy Johns.  The kids decided we would pretend to open our own Jimmy Johns shop when we got back home.  I will share more about this in a future post.

This field trip was a fun learning experience and the food tasted delicious.  The kids got to figure out what all the hype was about and connected the dots from the funny videos they watched on youtube.

Once we got home, we looked up more information about opening a sandwich shop and the kids learned about opening a franchise, customer service, creating the ultimate sandwich, etc. We made our own versions of sub sandwiches.  We researched Jimmy Johns specifically and found out lots of interesting facts.  He has his own race team.  The first Jimmy Johns was started in 1985 with a $25,000 loan.  Now he own restaurants in 49 states across the country.

We are thankful we live in America where people can work hard and reach their goals. The kids are even more excited about what the future hold and are looking forward to our next great adventure!

Stay Hydrated

It is sure easy to get dehydrated!  Whew!

I am trying to stay healthy and I set a goal to drink one half of my estimated pounds I weight in ounces.  This sounds easy, but for some reason, I have a hard time getting it all in.  It is about the equivalent of 3 quart jars of water.   For example, a 200 lb person would try to drink 100 ml of water per day.  Water is necessary for all functions of the body.

You can add flavor and healthy nutrients to your daily water intake by adding fresh fruit, herbs (tea), pink sea salt, extracts or a drop of a food safe essential oil. For a delicious treat, I like to add one drop of lemon essential oil to an 8 ounce glass of water for flavor and health benefits.



Funtastic Unit Studies Review

Ready Set Go!  It is time for school you know!

Yes it is time for school to start and we have a fun Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers created by Funtastic Unit Studies to tell you about.  I am sure you will want to include this fun curriculum in your learning adventures this school year.

Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers


Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers

Large book, 201 pages, Soft Cover
For Kids ages 4-13
Retails $16.95

Units Studies:

There are 20 Unit Studies in this curriculum. The first ten chapters are for younger children ages 4-7, while the second ten chapters are for children ages 8-13.  Each chapter is filled with fun hands on science activities that teach science concepts built around a specific theme.


Our Senses
The Human Body
Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
Insects and Their Kin
Fun with Magnets
Stars and Planets
Beginning Plants
Animal Ecology
Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
Atoms and Molecules
Chemistry Fun
Force and Motion
Simple Machines
Light and Color
Plants II

Materials needed:

At the beginning of each lesson is a list of the supplies needed to complete the learning activity.  Activities are designed to use common household items, so you won’t need to buy lots of expensive scientific equipment or chemicals.

The END GOAL is to have FUN learning science and relating it to real life.

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How We Used This In Our Home.

After looking through the curriculum, we decided to begin with the unit study on learning about Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.  This chapter has 6 sections and involved about 15 suggested activities and a video plus a materials list.

  • Dinosaurs
  • Herbivores and Carnivores
  • Fossils
  • Extinction
  • After Extinction
  • Recommended Movie

The curriculum is flexible and depending on what projects you do, you can adjust the unit study for the skill level of your kids.  We love unit studies and I have learned over the years, any unit study can be adjusted as needed.   So I decided to make this unit study interesting for all of ages of kids in our family (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 3) and do this together.  It was perfectly suited to do this with so don’t think you are locked into a certain age range on a given subject.

We did a range of projects and included some simple activities for the younger kids and some more complicated activities for our old kids too.  We completed 10 of those suggested in the book and added about 10 more of our own including creating a lapbook to keep of our fun learning adventure, learning to create our own Dinosaur Zoo in Minecraft and care for their needs in a virtual setting, creating a Dinosaur Feast, taking field trips, and watching several more dinosaur videos.

First we gathered our supplies and read over the lesson in the book.  The lesson is basically 8 pages of activities ideas and supply list.    Next we planned out several activities to reinforce the learning adventure.  Here is some of the fun stuff we did.


Through out this study we watched several dinosaur movies and documentaries.IMG_7852 - Copy

Videos We watched:

The Magic Schoolbus Stegasaurus.

Located this video on

The Best of Discovery Channel Dinosaurs

Located a whole list of Discovery Channel’s kid friendly dinosaur videos on

MineCraft Dinosaurs

Located a video “How to create your own” dinosaur worlds and zoos like Jurasic Park.

A Trip Back In Time To The Beginning

This is a video we made of our visit to the Creation Museum to see dinosaurs last summer.  Link is posted below under “field trips”.

Flash Cards

I found Dinosaur Flash Cards for $1 and bought a couple of sets to learn with.  The set came with 50 different full color illustrated dinosaur cards.  This was such a great buy and worked perfect for our learning adventure.


These had many facts about each different kind of dinosaur on the back of the card.   We practiced learning the different kinds of dinosaurs and categorizing them into plant eating herbivores, or meat eating carnivores.


Then I found a free set of dinoaur fact flash cards online to use in our lapbooks.  We printed them, colored them, wrote each dinosaurs name on them, and cut them out, and created a pocket to keep them in the lapbook.  You can play games with them and organize them by type or size or by what they eat etc.

Math and Measurement

We took Measurements in the yard to see how big the dinosaurs were and then charted the lengths and heights on graphing worksheets.  Our flash cards with lengths and heights of different dinosaurs were portable to take outside and came in handy again!

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We created dinosaur dioramas based on what we learned.

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Changing Prefixes and Suffixes and Invent and Draw Our Own Dinosaurs

The kids learned a list of 15 prefixes and 14 suffixes.  For example: “Dino” means “terrible” and “saurus” means “lizard” so dinosaur means terrible lizard.   They wrote them out on index cards and learned how combining the two parts gives the description of the kind of dinosaur being described.  Then they made up their own new dinosaurs and drew them and colored them based on what they named them and thought they might look like.


Computer Science Skills VIRTUAL Dinosaur Zoo

The kids created a dinosaur world on MineCraft based on what they learned in the video tutorial.  They built facilities, and had to feed them, water them, keep them safe,  etc in the  “zoo” system they built for them.  They have all kinds of dinosaurs you can raise and care for with different kinds of needs.  Also safety is an issue as you might need to escape from them if your character gets into a situation where you could be eaten. In the tutorial, the fella drops his gear into a pool and in the pool is a large scary croc-dino and it eats him every time he goes in to get his gear / tools so he can progress in the game.  Anyway, it is really fun and creative.

Be a Paleontologist:  Sandbox Dinosaur Dig & Sensory Bin Dino Dig

We did an outdoor dig and a smaller scale sensory bin indoor dig while pretending to be Paleontologists hunting for dinosaur bones.  I printed out a T-Rex skeleton printout with labels of various bone structures for them to figure out some of the main bones.  I buried various animal toys and pretend bones in sandbox for my kids to find.  IMG_7706

For the indoor bin I buried a complete  3D wooden dinosaur puzzle in a mixture of beans and lentils (a mess-free way to represent dirt and rocks).


On top we made a diorama of animals and a stream and pretended a shepherd (played by Woody from Toy Story) discovered a bone near the stream and a Paleontologist (played by a Lego mini-figure) came to search for the skeleton.


Tools: Brushes of different sizes, tweezers, and magnifying glass.  The Lego mini figure also has a pic ax for chipping ways at rocks and dirt too.

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Using a brush to clean off the bones.


Using the magnifying glass to identify the bones.

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I will post a separate story with more details and also the re-constructed dinosaur they made with the bones they discovered.


We created lapbooks with lots of fun printables and activities.


I researched the coloring pages and worksheet printables from various sources online.

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I will post a separate story with their completed lapbooks.

Fossils and Cooking

Making Fossil Cookies


Our guests left their tracks!


They also took a few hungry bites!


Several more fell into our pit and got stuck and left their fossilized imprints in our dough forever.  Now we will always have a record that they were here.


Creating our own fossil imprints.


Making Dino Poop Protein Balls


Isn’t every kid fascinated with poop?  Well, maybe not, but making edible Dino poop is a lot of fun!   Dissecting this is fun too.  You find “undigested” stuff in their poop (oats and nuts).


Making Dino Speckled Eggs


Edible Dinosaur Speckled Eggs are yummy and a lot of fun to make too!  You can hide baby dinosaurs inside to “hatch” too.

Making food for carnivores and herbivores.


The book suggested making a stegosaurus out of a bagel, cream cheese, apple slices, and carrots.  But we didn’t have bagels on hand, so we made up our own idea for dinosaur themed snacks.   We set out a whole bunch of supplies and the kids designed their own dinosaur feast. They had to come up with herbivore meals and carnivore meals.  They used a paper plate and a knife to create their designs.  They decided to make dinosaurs out of the ingredients based on the category.

Herbivore Dinosaur Plate

We made a stegosaurus with apples, peanut butter, carrots, and olives.  Then made a poop location with celery and blueberries, and a pretzel nest with grape eggs.


We also made a parsley, olive, strawberry tree and a pile of broken pretzel branches for our dinosaur to eat.


Carnivore Dinosaur Plate.

We made a T-REX with cheddar and string cheese and pepperoni, a half eaten victim of ham, string cheese pepperoni and pretzels, and a nest of pretzels and grape eggs.



The kids had a lot of fun playing with their dinosaur food feast.  They invited their dinosaur toys to the party too.

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Science Field Trip #1:

We went to Brown County State Park.  This was a great hands on adventure of exploration. There are two lakes, a couple of mineral springs, campgrounds, horseback riding, and miles and miles of hiking trails and streams to explore.   The park covers 16,000 acres.

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Our explorations pertaining to our Dinosaur Science Unit Study involved:

  • Looking at different ecosystems: forest, grassland, water – streams.
  • Looking at different geological formations and rocks.
  • Looking for fossils. Searching for signs of prehistoric life.

Brown County State Park

We enjoyed taking our shoes off and walking through one of the streams exploring the most of all.


It was a fun way to cool off from the heat and humidity of the day.

Hunting for fossils

This was so much fun.  All of the kids really enjoyed themselves.

Science Field Trip #2

Our second field trip got postponed and we are planning to go back again in a few weeks.   We are going to the Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky.  This is considered the birth place of American vertebrate paleontology.  There is a salt marsh there that many prehistoric animals died near by as they came to lick the salty water, and to drink and eat vegetation.  However, because it is so marshy and somewhat like quick sand, many of these prehistoric animals got stuck and died there.  Thousands of bones have been found.  There is a life size display behind the museum, and then many thousands of fossils inside the museum.  We have been to see this before but only saw the display outside and we followed a nature trail that meanders through the marshy landscape.  But we are planning to go again and visit inside the museum.  The indoor museum was closed last time we were there.  They are open 10-4 pm daily and for some reason, the museum was closed the day we went.

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Big Bone Lick State Park features life size mammoths, mastodons, sloths, and bison.

Science Field Trip #3

We took a virtual field trip of a real life field trip we did last summer.  We looked through some pictures and videos we saved from that trip.  We call it the Trip Back In Time To The Beginning and you can watch the video posted below.  We visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky and made a movie about the dinosaurs around the time of creation.  It was a lot of fun to go back through our pictures and watch the video of the fun day we had learning hands on about dinosaurs.  They have many life size dinosaurs and skeletons and even some robotic diorama’s set up and you feel like you are right there walking with the dinosaurs.  We also have pictures saved from another field trip from an actual dinosaur dig site we got to visit and museum at the Natural History Museum ad Gray Fossil Site in Tennessee, and our field trip to Dinosaur World in Kentucky.  Someday I hope to make videos from the pictures of our trips to those sites too. The kids really enjoy watching their pictures put into a video like this and tying it all together.  And YES my kids really like dinosaurs!!!

Resources and FREEBIES:

Helpful articles for Homeschoolers:

Two free pdf units from the book:

More freebies:

This is a fun and easy to do science curriculum and we highly recommend adding Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers into your science studies.

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

Be sure to check out what other families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using Funtastic Unit Studies.

Crew Disclaimer

Summer Shape Up

Summer Shape Up starts today!

It is 30 days, are you up for a challenge?

I’m very excited to learn some new recipes, meet new friends, and getting healthy one simple change at a time. I have been getting my smoothie recipes lined up, and planning some healthy simple tweaks to my life.

A few of the goals I have during the challenge and I will add more as I go on this journey:

  • Drink more water and add lemon essential oil to each glass.
  • Drink a complete whole food smoothie once a day.
  • Eat a salad once a day.
  • Take my fruit, veggie, and berry capsules once a day.
  • Take my superfood supplements once a day.
  • Use essential oils everyday to help detox, cooking, detox my body, cleaning, etc.
  • Menu Plan each week to help me stay on track to reach my goals.
  • Walk or be active at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Get at least 20 minutes of sunshine each day.
  • Pray and read my bible every morning.

I hope you will join me.

Summer Shape Up

With Lee In Virginia Review

Our family loves listening to the lively and entertaining audio stories by Heirloom Audio Productions.   We were asked to “live the adventure”  and review their latest story With Lee In Virginia and it is fantastic!

With Lee In Virginia

With Lee In Virginia

With Lee In Virginia
A Civil War Story of Courage, Honor, and Duty
Audio 2 1/2 hours
2 CD Set
Plus: 1)free downloadable PDF Study Guide
2)free printable poster and 3)free downloadable MP3
Ages 6 – Adult
Retails for $29.97

Benefits of sharing these CD’s with your kids:

  • Truthful retelling of the facts of the Civil War.
  • 2 1/2  hours of “Active Listening” that captivates children’s
  • “Travel time” becomes fun and exciting “Adventure Time”
  • Creative and exciting method of story telling to learn and remember history.
  • Inspires kids to have strong moral values like daring, determination and duty
  • FREE Study Guide with a bible study that helps parents engage children with the story
  • Christian Entertainment For Families
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With Lee In Virginia 2CD Set

This audio production is so vibrant with sound and life it is amazing.  It is full of honest people sharing their struggles in the midst of a Civil War.    The audio production has amazing sound effects and you feel like you are right there in the middle of the action.  They have a huge cast of stars with great character voices that keep you captivated in the story including Sean Astin, Kirk Cameron, Chris Anothony, Kelsey Lansdowne, and Kim Weiss.

Cast of With Lee In Virginia

Cast of With Lee In Virginia

Watch this short video clip about the making of With Lee In Virginia and see the amazing talent and excitment that went into this great retelling of history.

How We Used This In Our Home:

My kids were so excited to listen to With Lee In Virginia.  The story follows a 15 year old boy named Vincent who joins the Army of Virginia where he meets and observes the life of General Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  Vincent learns valuable lessons about character and honor and duty and war.  His decisions are impacted by what he learns from these great leaders who care about their men, their families, and their country.

CD set and Study Guide

CD set and Study Guide

We listened to the CD’s together in the living room.  I printed out the free study guide and put it into a three ring binder.  There is a free word hunt on Live The Adventure Kids Corner.

Word Find

I also printed off some Civil War coloring pages I found on the internet for the kids to color while listening.

Civil War coloring pages

Civil War coloring pages

The kids loved coloring the pictures while listening to the story.  There are no coloring pages in the study guide so you need to find these elsewhere.

General Lee

There are 8 of us in our family, and our kids ages range from 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 3. They were all captivated.   Because we are on our summer break, we are doing a “lighter load” of about 1 hour of schoolwork a day through the summer.   Listening to this audio product was a good fit for us to do for a couple of days.


For now, we did a pleasure round of listening of the story and just enjoyed it tremendously.  We listened to CD1 on the first day, and CD2 on the second day and the kids were hooked to the story.   It takes a little more than an hour per CD.   At times the youngest two kids got up and down and played which is to be expected for their age.  But the rest of the kids were quite satisfied to sit and listen to the whole story.  We also took sometime one afternoon to make some Civil War food.  The kids tried Johnny Cakes and we plan to learn to make our own Hard Tack  (like crackers or very dry bread), and some other Civil War era recipes this fall during our unit study.   We are really looking forward to this.


I had the kids look over the map provided in the study guide and see where the story took place.  We also completed the first  lesson of questions  and defining words from the study guide.   Each question covers between 4 to 10 minutes of the audio drama.  You can either have kids write out their answers to the questions, or just use the questions for discussion.  The questions cover three areas of learning:

The Listening Well: discussion about events, characters, and facts in the story.

The Thinking Further: increase understanding of the story by looking up facts and doing further research, deductive reasoning about characters actions and mindset,

The Defining Words: Look up vocabulary words in a dictionary. 

This is a fantastic study guide with lots of questions to get your kids to think deeper and remember the facts.  We are going to make the study guide a regular part of our learning this fall and do a complete unit study and lapbook on the Civil War this fall.   The depth of the study guide will be a perfect fit this fall when we can dig deeper and go over each section of the audio at a slower pace and pause to do the corresponding pages in the study guide.


With Lee In Virginia makes history come alive.  You feel like you are right there with all of these great men in their daily lives.  You can continue learning when you sign up for the newsletter called Live The Adventure.   The newsletter is jam packed with additional learning including recipes and projects for kids to do.

“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.” ~ General Robert. E. Lee

This is the second product from Heirloom Audio Productions our family has had the privilege to enjoy in our home and we give Heirloom Audio Productions our highest recommendation.  These CD’s would be great for homeschoolers, learning coops, church classes, history clubs, and gifts for family and friends of all ages.

Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio

“Building character in the next generation by bringing the lessons of history to life. “

With stories from Heirloom Audio Productions, kids are transported back in time to live the adventure of history.  Their products are amazing and they make history come alive!  “WOW!” is all I can say.   We love it!  We can’t wait to see what they will produce next.

The question for parents and grandparents is what do we want our children to learn and who do we want them to emulate?  Do we want them to be like Spider man or the Hulk or some character in their video games and movies?  Or do we want them to be like real men and women with courage and dignity and responsibility who chose to do what was right no matter the cost.

“Who is teaching and what are they learning?”  What morals are our kids learning from TV, Video Games, Smart Phones, and all the media they encounter through the days, weeks, and years of their life?  Who and what is influencing them?

With Heirloom Audio Productions kids can LIVE THE ADVENTURE.  They will desire to be like real heroes from history.  People who stood for what was right and honorable and people of character and endurance. People who loved God and loved their fellow man are the real superheroes our kids will come to love and desire to be like.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Heirloom Audio Productions on their social media links for all the latest news and updates.

With Lee In Virginia (Facebook):

Heirloom Audio Productions (Facebook):

Heirloom Audio Productions (Google+):

Heirloom Audio Productions (Twitter):

Live The Adventure (Newsletter and teaching ideas):

Live The Adventure KIDS CORNER (Website with activities for kids):

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Be sure to read what others on the TOS Review Crew have to say about using this in with their families too.

Crew Disclaimer

Last Day To Enter Essential Oil Kit Giveaway

Today is the last day to enter my essential oils kit giveaway. I am giving away 3 of the top oils, Lemon, Peppermint, and Lavender.  There are over 100 things you can do with these from self care to home care to pet care and beyond, and I know you will love using them in your home. Go check it out at

Essential Oils

Shape Whiz Game Review

I have a great math game to share with you today.  It is a geometry game called Shape Whiz by SimplyFun.

Simply Fun

SimplyFun is an award winning nationally recognized creator of over 100 educational games and puzzles  for kids 3 through adult.

Some of the Fun Educational Games at SimplyFun

Some of the Fun Educational Games at SimplyFun

They have won over 150 awards over the years.  That is a whole lot of folks saying these games are amazing!  All of their games can be completed in 30 minutes or less.  Their games are easy to learn and don’t take much time, so they easily fit into everyone’s busy day in the classroom and after-school too.

Shape Whiz

Shape Whiz

Shape Whiz

Shape Whiz
Ages 10 and Up
2-4 Players
Retail $24
Wholesale $18

Shape Whiz comes with 80 Double Sided Shape Cards; 45 Blue Simple Shapes and 35 Green Complex Shapes.  On the Back of each shape card are the answers to match clue cards.  Shape Whiz also comes with 40 Double Sided Whiz Cards.

Components of the Shape Whiz Game

Components of the Shape Whiz Game

Skills Practiced

2D Geometry
Shape Measurement
Math Symbols
Eye Hand Coordination
Problem Solving
Speed Math

How We Used The Shape Whiz Game

I am so excited about using this game to teach my kids about geometry.  We have played table games several times this summer to bust boredom on hot and also rainy days and this game has come in handy just for fun.



But Shape Whiz goes way beyond fun and is very educational.


We practiced mastering the principles of geometry.   We used our basic knowledge of geometry knowledge and reasoning skills to figure out clues and find the shape described.


It is a real challenge to try to be the fastest player to find the Shape Card that solves the Whiz Card question.


You can to use a lot of concentration and other players can take your Shape Cards if they see the answer faster than you do.

We will definitely keep playing this geometry game weekly in our math learning practice through the school year.


The first player to empty their Personal Shape Card Stack Wins!

How To Buy

SimplyFun offers four great ways to purchase their award winning educational games.  You can choose the option that is just right for you.


  • You can purchase AMAZING Educational Games and Puzzles at retail.


  • You can host a Laugh and Learn Party.  Invite your friends and you can earn 15%-25% money back on their purchases, product points, and free thank you products too just by hosting a game party.

Play Saver Wholesale Member

  • You can become a Play Saver Wholesale Member for $19 which includes two free games (worth $27), and save 15% off every purchase. Each year that you purchase $100 wholesale, you will get free membership.  This is an terrific option for Homeschool Families.


  • You can also become a sales associate called a Playologist.  This is your own business where you host parties and earn 25% on every game you sell, plus other bonusses and incentives. The Playologist statup fee is $149 and comes with 11 games (worth over $300), a business starter kit, free training, and your own website.


You can also make and save a WISHLIST on their site. I highly recommend you create a wish list and let family and friends know which of these amazing products you would like to get for birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, youth group, coops, clubs, etc. and also the ones you want to tell your spouse about (hint, hint) to use to support your homeschool curriculum, etc.  These games are fantastic!

I think I would enjoy hosting a party, maybe a Back to School or Christmas party, and share these wonderful products.  I would love to earn enough to pay for a Playologist kit and have plenty left over to buy gifts on my wish list.  This is an amazing opportunity to build your own library of educational games and puzzles!


Special savings offer for my readers.  SAVE 15% on your first purchase!  Use “SHREVIEW” Discount code (expires 7/31/2015) at checkout.

Social Media

Be sure to follow SimplyFun on their social media links for all the latest news and updates. They are a fantastic company and you will want to stay in the loop!


Simply Fun Review

Be sure to read what other homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using games from SimplyFun with their families.

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Home School In The Woods Project Passport Review

I am excited to share with you about wonderful product we will be using this fall called  Project Passport  World History Study: The Middle Ages by Home School In The Woods

Home School in the Woods Review

Home School In The Woods is a company created by a real homeschool family in 2002.  The Pak family understands the challenges of learning history in a way that is truthful, as well as easy to understand and remember.   They have created many wonderful uncensored historical homeschool curriculum resources for families, including amazing illustrated history timelines, lapbooks, notebooks, and unit studies.  The printable graphics and illustrations in the activities and the organization really gives this curriculum a special quality and I encourage everyone to check out their products and see which ones will work for your family.

Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods Review

Format: CD or Download (Mac & PC Compatible)
Suggested grades: 3-8
For individual family use.
PDF Download Version $33.95
CD Version $34.95


This history product contains 25 lessons (or stops along the journey) that cover people, events in history, and geography from The Middle Ages about 400 AD to 1500 AD.   Some of the main historical events covered include:

  • Barbarian invasions,
  • Everyday Medieval life,
  • The structure of the classes,
  • Towns & guilds,
  • Science & invention,
  • Medieval education,
  • The arts,
  • Church history,
  • The castle,
  • The Crusades,
  • Knights,
  • Vikings,
  • Battles & wars

When your student is done, they will have made a passport that can be used for this and additional Project Passport Studies in history, a lapbook of all their research activities, a scrapbook of sights visited and project papers completed and a history timeline.  They will have several arts and craft souvenirs, file folder games, and recipes that they have made along the learning journey too.

Project Masters
The CD includes directions and printable masters for over 50 projects and activities.  This is very flexible. You can choose all of the the projects, or choose just a few of them that work best for your family!

Project Passport


  • Creative Writing
  • File Folder Game
  • “Scrapbook of Sights” for storing notebook projects
  • Newspaper “The Medieval Times”
  • “Snapshot Moments in History” Scrapbook Timeline
  • “Postcards from Famous Folks”
  • Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
  • “Dining Out Guide” of Recipes
  • Lap Book Projects (over a dozen)
  • Dramatized Audio Tours
  • Travel Tips
  • Teacher Keys
  • Itinerary

Dramatized Audio Tours,
There is nearly an hour of listening on dramatized audio tours. Join “Knight in Shining Armor Tours” as Agatha (your tour guide) and Brian (your coach driver) take you on medieval excursions, such as a town on a Festival Day, a monastery where you will hear the sounds of Gregorian Chant, or the Battlefield of Hastings, and the Duke William of Normandy.

Travel Planner
The travel planner helps the teacher see the whole schedule.  They can see upcoming topics and projects at a glance and plan and gather supplies accordingly.  Use a three-ring binder to lay everything out for this history study including: Travel Tips, teacher keys, Additional Resources (should you wish to include more reading or viewing to enhance the study), and a Quick-Stop Itinerary.   Also included is a 3 ring binder notebook cover you can print in either color or black & white.  Putting everything in a binder will help you keep it neat and organized.


Teachers Guide
The teacher’s Guide Book houses the reading Guide Book Text, the Travel Itineraries of project directions, as well as Travel Tips, teacher keys, and any of the other teacher helps.

Lapbook, Notebook, and Souvenirs
Throughout this history study,  students will accumulate many lapbook or notebook items they created from printouts and research activities to include in a final lapbook / notebook / scrapbook of the learning adventure.  Some of the specific activities include  “Snapshot Moments in History” timeline, Mapping the Barbarian Invasions, Famous People of the Crusades, Medieval Weaponry & Armor, The Coat of Arms, Illuminations, Pilgrims & Pilgrimages, etc.

We Love It!!!

All of my kids love this curriculum.  It is hands on and my kids love hands on unit studies on any subject, and this one is especially exciting.   We have this as our number one history and geography curriculum for this fall.   The Project Passports are designed to last at least 8 to 12 weeks in length.  That would mean doing two or three lessons per week.  However, this will project will stretch for 25 weeks if you choose to do one lesson a week, choose to do more of the projects suggested, and go deeper in the learning opportunities that are offered.  So I would personally recommend taking your time with this learning adventure and get as much from it as you can. It is quite the adventure and your kids are going to love it!

I am so impressed with this company and I personally would love to have all of the resources they have created for our homeschool.   We were sent their Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages for review and it is so huge, it will completely fill our history schedule this fall for our upcoming school year.  Here are just a few details to let you know more of what this about and I hope you will check them out and get started using them in your curriculum too.

Social Media

Be sure to check out Home School In The Woods on their social media links for all the latest news and updates.
Google +:

Home School in the Woods Review

Be sure to check out what all the TOS Review Crew had to say about products from this amazing curriculum company.

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