USAopoly Games Review

FUN! FUN! FUN!  We were sent two learning games from USAopoly for review!  Our family had so much FUN playing Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game.

USAopoly Games

USAopoly has been encouraging families with fun creative board games and puzzles since 1994, that is over 20 years!

Games We Recieved:

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game

Ages: 8 to Adult
2 or more players
Retails for $19.95

Wonky Game Includes:

9 Blue and Green Wonky Blocks; 54 Strategy Cards;  Storage Bag to keep the blocks in; and Instructions.

If you like to build painstakingly, and don’t mind your creation leaning like the Tower of Pisa, this game is for you!

Each block is a confusing optical illusion as they are shaped normal on three sides and the other sides are curved and it causes the tower to wobble when a big block is placed on top of a smaller block.

The goal is to cause your opponents to make the tower fall and force them to have as many cards in their hands as possible at the end of the game as you stack a large block on a small one and make the tower wobble!   Two cards work in your favor, the reverse play card and the pass card, forcing those around you to take a turn instead of you.  The first player to get rid of all their cards without causing the tower to fall, wins the game.


Awards Won By Wonky (source)

Awards Won By Wonky (source)

How We Used WONKY in our home:

My kids love to build, BUT they are used to building with things with flat, even surfaces.  WONKY is completely wonky!


It takes a lot of skill and patience to stack a misshaped block and keep the tower of blocks from falling over.


You literally concentrate and hold your breath with every block you stack on top!


This is a great game and so fun for several ages to play together.  You really don’t have an advantage if you are older in this one!  Lots of concentration and slowing down to find the right spot to place your block and stack them while following the clue cards.    We would definitely encourage our friends to look into getting this fun game for this family.


Now if speed is more your style, you might want to give Tapple a try.

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Tapple: Fast Word Fun For Everyone

Tapple: Fast Word Fun For Everyone

Ages: 8 to Adult
2-8 Players
10-20 minutes play time, depending on how many rounds you play.
Retails for $19.95

Tapple Game Includes:

The Tapple Letter Wheel, 36 Category Cards (each card has 4 categories =144 categories total), and Instructions.

Tapple is a game of speed and word association.  You have 10 seconds to name a word in a category and beat the timer.  BUT watch out because you only get 10 seconds to think of your word and the first letter of the word must match an available letter on the wheel.  There are 20 Letters available of the alphabet and six letters, (Q,U,V,X,Y,Z,) have been left off the wheel.   If the timer expires before you can think of a word, your turn in that round is over.  The last person to finish a round wins the category card.  The person with the most category cards at the end wins the game.  You can decide ahead of time if you plan to include all categories in a game, or limit the number of categories, for example, limit to 3 or 5.

This is a fantastic game and has won many awards in several categories.


Tapple Awards (source)

Awards won by Tapple (source)

How we used Tapple in our home:

This game is hilarious!  We used this game as a supplement to our Language learning skills for the whole family.   Basically you have a random category on a card and everyone has to come up with a word for that category card that begins with one of the letters on the Tapple wheel.  If the letter has already been used, it cannot be used again in that round.  Each player takes a turn saying a word that starts with a letter available on the wheel.  After they say a word in the category that matched an available letter, then the player taps the timer and the play starts for the next player.  If you don’t answer within 10 seconds, the timer ends and that player looses the round.  If a player looses a round, they cannot begin to play again until the entire category round is through and there is a clear winner.  You win the round by being the last person standing and receive the category card.


The kids had so much fun with this game.  It gets more and more challenging as the common letters are used up and you still need to find a new word to match an available letter.


With this game, age is an advantage.  The older you are, the more words you will likely know and also the factor of thinking ahead for your turn, you can kind of plan out what you are going to say if there are several players in a round.  So at our house, if 8 of us are playing, you will have about 80 seconds or less to figure out your word (each player gets 10 seconds or less). When the game gets down to just a few players left, it goes very quickly.  We definitely enjoy playing this game and would encourage every homeschool family to have one on hand.

When not in game mode, you can use this one on one with a younger child and teach them words that start with a letter.  We did this and just did not use the timer for this activity.

Social Media

Be sure to follow USAopoly on their social media sites for all the latest news, special sales, and product updates.  Be sure to check out USAopoly’s blog.  They do giveaways!


 USAopoly Review

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Heroes Of History: Billy Graham Review

Are you hungry for true stories about real heroes?  Then you and your children might like the Heroes of History book series and Unit Study Curriculum Guides by YWAM Publishing.

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The Heroes of History series contains approximately 20 volumes of fascinating history of real life heroes. Some of the great men and women covered in these books includes the lives of: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Ben Carson, Laura Ingles Wilder, etc.

Heroes Of History

Heroes of History are ordinary men and women (many who faced poverty and disadvantages in their youth), who over came challenging circumstances and changed the course of American History.

Heroes Of History

Billy Graham

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Paperback Book

208 pages

Ages 10+

Retails for $9.99 and is on sale for $7.50

This book covers the story of Billy Grahams Life including his youth, his acceptance of Christ as his savior, his family, and life long ministry as a world wide evangelist.

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Unit Study Guide Cover

Unit Study Curriculum Guide

PDF e-Book

Retails for $9.99 and on sale for $7.49

This unit study guide corresponds with the paperback book.  It provides structured questions, vocabulary words, and activities for each chapter to help the student dig deeper into the story. It also contains the answer key and a few printables such as maps, a timeline, and a fact sheet about his life.

Unit Study Table of Contents

Unit Study Table of Contents

How We Used This Product In Our Home

We were sent the Heroes Of History paperback book and the corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review in our home.  This curriculum is filled with fascinating stories about Billy Graham’s life.  He is considered “America’s Pastor” and is loved by millions of people in America and around the world.

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Billy Graham (source Unit Study Guide)

There are so many details from his life that you just have to read the book for yourself to grasp the big picture, but I think this sums up this amazing journey: Billy grew up on a dairy farm in North Carolina.  God took him on a life long journey from those humble beginnings to become an evangelist who has preached in 185 countries reaching over 200 million people with the message about Jesus Christ and eternal salvation.  It is amazing how God used a farm boy in an amazing way to expand his Kingdom.

My children are enjoying learning about Billy Graham’s adventures growing up and his life working for the Kingdom.  The story starts our when he is about 12 years of age and goes through many of his memories growing up and my son was hooked to read about his boyhood.


The unit study guide contained about 5 printables (located in section 2) and the rest was of the guide (section 1) was structured questions about each chapter in the book and a few activity ideas.  We liked a couple of activity ideas in the guide such as creating an itinerary for Billy Graham’s Travels and computing costs for airfare and travel etc.  And an idea to watch one of his speeches from the 1960’s and compare it to a speech from the 1990’s for example and see any changes in his presentation of his message.  Also an idea to learn one of his speeches and then repeat it yourself as a speech was a cool idea.  But otherwise, the guide really needs some tweaking and some fun activities added for kids.  So my suggestion to other families would be to come up with your own activity ideas to make this part of the learning fun.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

My Personal Experience with Billy Graham

When I was about 13 years old, I went to a Billy Graham crusade in Kansas City, KS.  It was life changing for me.  I dedicated my whole heart to Jesus that night.  I sat on the edge of my seat in a huge stadium filled with people and knew Mr. Graham was speaking just to me.  I had given my heart to the Lord when I was 8 and was baptized with water at the Open Door Baptist Church.  When I was about 11, my father’s church felt I needed re-baptized “into” their church, the Church of Christ.  Not much changed for me at that time, other than earnestly seeking God as my home life was not so great.   But when I was 13, and sincerely seeking God for answers in my life, I met a man who had the answers.  His name was Billy Graham.  He had a confidence and an assurance of who God is that I had never seen or heard in any man.  That night I went forward at the Billy Graham Crusade and dedicated my whole heart to the Lord, I was filled with a fire for God.  A passion.   It was life changing for me and I never doubted my salvation or God’s love and his hand on my life ever since.  He has guided me and held me close and watched over me and I love him more than life itself.

I know there are millions of people like myself that God placed Billy Graham in our path.  He has been a blessing to me.  When we lived in North Carolina, we lived about 40 minutes from Mr. Graham’s campus near Asheville, NC.    If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to go and visit the museum and campus.  His son carries on the ministry’s vision today and runs a world wide outreach that is the hands and feet of Jesus meeting the real needs of people called Samaritans Purse.   If you are looking for a ministry to pray for, financially support, or volunteer with, please put this one at the top of your list!

Thank you Mr. Graham for your obedience and dedication to obey Jesus and share the message of the Kingdom of God with me.

Social Media

Be sure to follow YMAM Publishing on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.


YWAM Publishing Review

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Fascinating Education Chemistry Review

Would you like your kids to love chemistry?  Then this curriculum is for you.  We were offered the opportunity to review Fascinating Chemistry by Fascinating Education this fall.  This class has helped my son to have a great start to the new school year.

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Facinating Science Courses

Fascinating Education currently offers science courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics created by Dr. Sheldon Margulies.  Read on down to the bottom to learn more about Dr. Margulies.

With Fascinating Education, your kids will get up to date technology interwoven into great science courses for high school.  You can see the coarse outlines and free sample lessons for each course on their web site.

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Fascinating Chemistry

The Fascinating Chemistry course is geared for the highschool student.  It is a year’s worth of chemistry learning through an online course and includes 18 lessons covering about various subjects.

The course retails for $79.00 a year.

Every lesson has various subject within the lesson, and each subject covered has its own learning video, glossary, and a written script of the video lesson and an online quiz.
The quizzes and answer keys are available in PDF versions.

Each lesson is laid out in an easy to use display, with buttons below each picture for access to the lessons, text scripts, and tests which correlate with each lesson making it very easy for students to navigate the course.

You can access the  course outline and see how each subject fists into each lesson.

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This is page one of the course outline, access the link above to see the additional pages.

How We Used Facinating Education Chemistry In Our Home

We received a one year subscription to Fascinating Chemistry for the purpose of writing this review.  We love learning science at our house and my oldest son is especially interested in learning the “WHY” of behind every thing.

He has been asking for a Chemistry course and this opportunity to review this class was a great opportunity  for him.  Each day he logs in and watches the lesson videos, learns terminology, and completes assigned tasks without being prompted by me.

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He is learning so much.  I am very impressed how easily he is learning the information.  I feel he is getting a good handle on being familiar with the terminology. He takes his time and often repeats the videos to be sure he has learned all of the information. I think learning the terminology is the key to grasping an understanding of the videos.


I would definitely recommend this curriculum.  It is wonderful to have courses on line because you can access them anytime day or night 24/7 to work on your assignments.

I love science as much as my kids.  My favorite classes in school were science and music and I think I have passed this on to my kids.  We want to know “HOW” things work and “WHY”.   If you asked me about almost any subject today like cooking, bible, health, gardening, etc. I would tell you the science behind it. The kids are turning out like this too…cooking science, science of health, science of gardening, even science in the bible.  We all love science.   I have shared this with my friends before, but I will share it again, that our family’s favorite kind of TV shows are ones that show the science behind how things happen like “How It Works” “How Its Made”, “Good Eats”, “Myth Busters”, “Time Warp”, “The Science Of Stupid”, etc.

I am happy my son is enjoying this class and is learning about How and Why things around us work.

More About Fascinating Education

Dr. Margulies created Fascinating Education.  He is an author, teacher, attorney, and a neurologist and knows the brain and how it functions best when learning information and performing tasks.

Dr. Margulies

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Dr. Margulies has taught neurology to thousands of medical students in his 35 year teaching career and trained doctors to work in neurology. He focuses on interactive right brain methods of learning primordially audio visual methods with questions and answer. He supplements the audio-visual methods with written text. Dr. Margulies is especially skilled to teach science. He has an extensive background and understanding of the brain. He wants to use his knowledge to create programs that inspire the younger generation to pursue science related careers and study of science.

Please check out his ABOUT DR. SHELDON MARGULIES web page to learn more about his qualifications, degrees, experience, books he has authored, and his passions. He is a fascinating person with an incredible amount of experience and insight in many areas. It is so fitting that he would inspire others to learn about science with the creation of Fascinating Education courses.

Fascinating Education Review

Be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Fascinating Education.


Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright

Have you ever come under attack because you stand up for something?  Have you been critisized because your talents and skills cause you to stand out?  Be encouraged today, because God has placed talents and gifts inside you that are meant for you to stand up and shine brightly with them, expanding the light of his Kingdom, illuminating a dark world, and bring Him glory through it all.


As I listened to the words of Jesus this morning in my bible study, I realized he is saying he wants you and me to Stand Up, Stand Out, and Shine Bright.   He wants you to do good and stand out so others can see his light shining from you. That is not boastful. That is not prideful. Those are the words of Christ Jesus.

Jesus told us to “DO” and to  “STAND” and to “SHINE”.

To “do”, to “stand”, and to “shine” are ACTION words.   They are the opposite of “take a seat”, “stay seated” and “you may be seated” words we hear spoken today.   I don’t think Jesus would have defined his followers the way they appear today, seated and asleep.

If you asked the average person today how they would define a Christian, most would say something like:  “A Christian is a person who follows a religious teacher named Jesus by going to a building with four walls on Sunday to sing about him, pray, and hear a bible story”.  Jesus NEVER ever said for his followers to live like that.   Jesus gave his followers an assignment to stand out, to do good, and to shine and illuminate the darkness.  He told them to go out two by two to heal the sick, cast out demons, feed the hungry, set captives free and preach the Kingdom of God in all the earth. Yet sadly, the “Christian life” amounts to sitting in a pew on Sunday for most believers of Jesus today.

If a person, or group of people, are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will do what he did and obey what he said.  The churches who are doing, standing, and shining, are the churches we see growing exponentially today, just as the early church that Jesus created did. Miracles are happening as those believers pray for others, cast out demons, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, raise the dead, and set the captives free, and thousands of lives are being fed, clothed, and transformed, and the Christian believer is a bright light in that city.

Christians, and their churches, that shine the brightest in a city, also take the most criticism from other Christians that don’t choose to shine.  They have let their lamps grow dark outside of their four walls of their buildings, and they criticize those who stand out and shine bright.

This happens constantly, but I will use this one recent example to illustrate this point.  I recently heard a pastor of a small church in a decaying city criticizing pastors of larger churches.  He often points fingers at them and puts them down in discussions with his congregation.   He says that these larger churches are not truly following God or else they wouldn’t have such large congregations of people.  He says that they are prideful to have musical instruments and singers on stage and putting on a show.  He says these pastors are misappropriating funds to have large budgets for their church to fly around the US and the World and put money into these large outreach efforts.  He says they are showing off and worldly to draw in large crowds.

Yet while he critisizes others,  his own church’s light is dying.  He has no impact in his decaying city.  Even though he stays busy going here or there doing this or that, he and his congregation contain no new life and no change or growth.   In the community and even within the four walls of his building, there is no opportunity for the followers of Jesus to shine, even though he states weekly that they are in the midst of “revival”.   They host revivals (evening sermon meetings that last from anywhere from 3 days to 7 days) monthly through out the year.  I have attend several at that church and other local churches, I have spoken to these pastors and their guest evangelists, and from what I can tell, these churches are not really in revival.    It is just a word that label their meetings that they host that are different than Sunday service.

Revival is basically spiritual CPR.  To revive is to breathe new life into a dying or dead situation. Their church and their city continues to die despite their efforts at “revival”.  It is not effective. There is no spiritual CPR happening in the revival meetings that I have seen for many years.  Many years ago in the 1970’s and mid 1980’s I did witness true revivals that changed cities. But after that, except for a few dynamic on fire churches, what I witnessed across this nation was a sleeping church who’s light grew dim in their communities.

The believers speak about revival, but they have become lukewarm in allowing God to be Lord in every decision.  They trade out God’s word about eating, raising children, marriage, healing and raising the dead, casting out demons, etc. instead for an acceptance of government guidance in regards to daily living, education of children, health care, jobs, etc.  They enjoy a “tax exempt” status and follow the rules.  They get a pat on the back or their name in the paper if they do a good event, but they don’t bring change to the community.  Though God is honored during the service on Sunday he is not the Lord of their daily living 24/7.   Instead the congregation hides behind the four walls of the church, hides their gifts and talents that were purposed to expand the Kingdom within their cities, and wait…wait…wait…asleep…until Jesus returns…all the while they never realize their lamps ran out of oil and they no longer were effective to shine God’s light into a dark world.


“Your eyes are like a window for your body.
When they are good, you have all the light you need.
But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark.
If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark.”
Mathew 6:22-23

How do we keep our lamps supernaturally full and shining bright?  Jesus is returning for a Bride who is awake and her lamp is full of spiritual oil and she is shinning bright and doing good, obeying the commands of Isaiah 58 while she loves God with her whole heart and loves her neighbor.

Jesus said to becareful because you will fail at shining if your light goes dark.  That seems obvious.  But he made it very clear as if it were not obvious or like me might forget if not reminded.  As if we are like the man who looks in the mirror and steps away and forgets what he looked like in that mirror.  He is right.  We easily forget that we must not let our light go dark. Jesus said if your eyes are bad, and you let darkness into your life, you can not shine.   How can your eyes bring darkness into your life?  The eyes are the door that Satan uses to tempt you. When you follow through with that temptation you bring darkness into your life.  So it is key to remove the darkness and temptations from in front of your eyes and look upon Jesus and obey him.

Jesus said if you love him, you will obey him.  He said to shine bright, stand out, and beam as brightly as you can like a lighted city on a hill, and a lamp on a high stand in your house.   Think about that for just a minute.  Has your power in the house ever gone out and you had to light a candle or use a lamp for light?  I have had this happen many times in my life, and I put that candle or lamp on the highest table in the center of the room so that the room is lit up and I can see where to go and what I am doing.  That candle or lamp can shine so bright that we can even cook a simple meal, or play games by it’s light.   However, if I placed that light in a corner of a room, it would not light up the room well enough for us to see.

When we stand out and shine, we send forth HIS light that is in us so that God will be glorified. Others will give God praise when they see you doing good and shining bright. Christians who stand out, who shine bright, often come under attack from both other Christians and non-Christians.  It can be a hard and lonely choice to stand out, and would be much easier to hide, or sit on a pew and let others do the shining.  But to obey Jesus (not your denomination, not your pastor, not religious rules or traditions),  as a child of God, you must be placed on a high place and stand out so that everyone around you can see what is around them with the light that you are shining forth.  The darkness of their situation is transformed and lit up by the light you shine.  You are the lamp that must shine bright while you are doing good. Don’t get burned out doing good, don’t fall asleep, and don’t hide your light or let it go out.

Think about it.  If every Christian obeyed the words of Jesus and stood out on a high place and shined forth God’s light while doing good, surely this world would experience true revival.  It would look a whole lot different. Surely multitudes of people would come to Jesus and give God praise for the good they see you do and the church would truly experience a spiritual CPR revival and grow exponentially.

“You are like light for the whole world.
A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden,
and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot.
A lamp is placed on a lampstand,
where it can give light to everyone in the house.
Make your light shine,
so that others will see the good that you do
and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Mathew 5:14-15


O Church!

Wake up, stand up, and be the light of the world, giving light to everyone while we stand out and shine bright while doing good.

Be blessed!


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Raising Homemakers

Super Teacher Worksheets

How would you like to have just about any worksheet you need (or imagine) at any time through out the school year, right at your fingertips?

Super Teacher Worksheets

Have no fear!  Super Teacher Worksheets are here!

I just love this special Super Hero who has come to save the day!  We were sent a 1 year Individual Membership for our family to use.  This wonderful site has so many awesome resources to enhance the learning going on with your kids and make it even more fun.

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Super Teacher Worksheets

Membership $19.95 year

Grades K-5, but there are many worksheets for middle and high school too, and more will be developed for the upper grades.

Unlimited 24/7 Access to over 10,000 pdf worksheets, activities, flash cards, games, and more.

New worksheets are added each week.

“Members have unlimited access to thousands of worksheets and printable materials on Super Teacher Worksheets. We offer math worksheets, reading comprehension stories, spelling lists, handwriting practice sheets, grammar worksheets, holiday printables, and much more!” source

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Just A Few Of The Subjects Covered:

There are wonderful high quality printables for more subjects than I can tell you about.  It is really mind boggling just the number of worksheets and resources on this site.  But here is a short list of some of the subject areas covered.

Reading & Writing
Phonics & Early Literacy
Spellings Lists & Worksheets (Gr. 1-5)
Social Studies
Health and Nutrition
Puzzles & Brain Teasers
Flash Cards
Teacher Helpers
Pre-K and Kindergarten Resources
Make Your Own Worksheets

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Super Teacher Worksheets company was created by Tim Weibel in 2007.  Tim worked as a 3rd and 4th grade elementary school teacher for over 10 years and saw a need for easy access to affordable high quality worksheets for teachers and parents.

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How We Are Using Super Teacher Worksheets In Our Home


I am so excited to have this resource!  It has enhanced what we are doing.   If I want the kids to practice more on certain skills we have a worksheet for that.  If I want them to do a quiz, I can find several worksheets to cover it.  If I want to expand their learning with unit study on a specific subject, I have found so many great resources on this website that I can include to further the learning.  I am just thrilled!

We are using these worksheets to supplement almost every subject of our learning this fall.  So far I have printed off math, language arts, phonics, spelling, history, geography, nutrition, and found worksheets for our dinosaur unit study, human body unit study, and more.

There is something to go along with everything you are doing, and if something isn’t there, you can create your own using the tools on the site too. There is also a feature for the kids to create their own calendars.  I can’t wait to be able to use these worksheets for the up coming holiday season this fall.  These resources will give a nice touch to our learning during the holidays too.


We are studying the History and Geography of the USA.  I found maps of the USA and some with latitude and longitude coordinates.  The kids had to use the clues to locate the city and state the meet the coordinates listed.  I found a wonderful State Report for the kids to work on. The report is about 9 pages long and there are interesting things to do on each page that relate to the state you are studying.  We started off learning about Indiana state history and geography since we live in Indiana.    Really proud of my 12 year old son’s handwriting.  He is doing such a great job since taking a handwriting course, and all of these awesome worksheets are giving him plenty of hands on practice to implement his writing skills.  I also saw there were handwriting worksheets to get in more practice and guided instruction as needed too.  I plan to implement the handwriting worksheets with all the children next week.


My opinion is that every homeschool family (and anyone else working with kids) needs to subscribe to this program.  There is so much to do and learn and the kids will have fun learning too.

Science Worksheets

More About Super Teacher Worksheets:

Members can make their own customized math worksheets, calendars, flashcards, quizzes, and word puzzles with the generators.

Members can save their favorite files in an online filing cabinet for easy access and to help save room on their own computer’s data storage.  I usually just save the worksheet to a file in my own computer.  This has really helped with planning out our learning schedule by having such easy access to these resources.

Look over their blog for ongoing CONTESTS, GIVEAWAYS, FREE learning resources, and great ideas.  They write great articles to help parents and teachers and have given away microscopes, science kits, and all kinds of great stuff so keep an eye out for what is happening over there.

Super Teacher Worksheets also has a site called with SMART Board Notebook resources for teachers.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Super Teacher Worksheets on their Social Medial links for all the latest news and updates.





Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Now that you read what we think about these wonderful worksheets, be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the TOS Revew Crew had to say about using this product in their home.

Crew Disclaimer

Brown County State Park Adventure

Brown County State Park in Indiana is a beautiful place to visit.     We recently did a family field trip to explore and enjoy it’s beauty.


It reminded me of our time in North Carolina and the foothills of Upstate South Carolina.



It is covered in dense forest and the low lying areas have wondering creeks and streams.



The trees are a different variety than in the Carolina’s, but otherwise it gave such a similar feeling.




There are two small lakes in the park where you can fish or boat.


There is also a campground, swimming, horseback riding, miles of hiking trails, and some play spaces for kids.


This park within the park has a log cabin theme and it was a great spot to get out and stretch our legs.


The Brown County State Park was a 3 1/2 hour drive from home, so we really appreciated this play space even though it could use some of updating.



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The kids were facinated by the streams.  The park has a stream behind it, and it joins a bigger stream right across the road.


The stream behind the playground is small and covered with forest.

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It was a great day of adventure.


We looked for fossels and really cool rocks.  But there was a lot of broken glass in this back stream so it wasn’t suitable to walk around in it.


We decided to go across the street and explore that stream and this proved to be a great idea.


It was fast moving, but shallow, and the kids really enjoyed exploring.


They built a small bridge half way across the water with nice flat stones.


They stood on a flat stones to get their balance in the water.


It was a beautiful family outing and I can’t wait to return and explore more of the state forest trails and natural beauty.


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Raising Homemakers

Sharing Time

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.
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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!