Author Archives: Melinda Weiser

About Melinda Weiser

I am a sinner, saved by grace. I am on a journey and offer to share my story with the hope that it will bless you. My one desire is to bring glory to my creator. I am a wife and the mother of 6 children, plus two in heaven. I enjoy homeschooling, research, teaching, homesteading, natural gardening, grass based farming, cooking, fresh raw milk, herbs, children, midwifery, and music. I am a writer, biblical mentor, and also work part time in the healthy foods and vitamin business www.weisernaturalfoods.com I have a BSW degree from Kansas State University, and trained professionally as a medical social worker, biblical counselor, tutor, and vocal performer. Thank you for stopping by to read about our homeschool and family life adventures. Be blessed!

Shepherd, Potter, Spy and the Star Namer Review

Our family was recently sent Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver – Author to review.

After I read the first four chapters to the kids aloud, my 12 year old son snatched the book from me and I didn’t get to finish reading until he was done!  We tried everything to get his attention, to get him to share the book, even to get him to notice we were still breathing, but nothing could deter him from reading this book!  He couldn’t and wouldn’t put it down!  Not even big brothers or little brothers could entice him to put it down!  This has never happened before!

Even food and bedtime didn’t distract him. By day or by night, even with the help of a flash light…he was determined to read and read and read…all 379 PAGES!

Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer

Paperback 

379 Pages

46 Chapters

Retails $15.99

This story is historical fiction about a teenage boy who lived a long long time ago in the valley of Canaan.  His name is Keshub and he is the youngest of five boys in his family.  They are from the Gibeonite village and have strong family and community bonds and traditions.  The book contains 46 chapters packed into 379 pages and includes additional pages for: Character and Relationship List, and Discussion Questions.

Even though the characters are fictional, many of the events, cultural aspects, and places are real.  The true story of Kesheb’s people is told in the bible in the book of Joshua and the pivotal event for his people securing their future can be found in Joshua 9 and 10.

Keshub is a shepherd boy and tends his flocks every day.  He is the son of a potter who earns a living making pots and selling or trading them with Caravans who travel through the Canaan valley.  Keshub hears many stories of far away places and events not so far away from the travelers.  The Gibeonites learn about the God of the Hebrews and how he protects, provides, and blesses them. They hear about the other tribes in the nearby areas being conquered in warfare with the Hebrews and as they approach their land, they decide to make a peace treaty with them.

Kesheb’s life is anything from boring.  Everyday he must care for his sheep and defend them from predators.  During the story we learn about an evil Ammorite King that lives nearby and Keshub becomes friends with his son. There is danger and risk involved through out the story.  Keshub also serves as a young spy to keep an eye on the Hebrews as they advance in their conquest.  His people have to choose to make a treaty with the approaching Hebrew army or make a treaty with the evil king to fight the Hebrews.

If God is for them, who can be against them?  Be sure to pick up a copy of this book, to find out the rest of the story!

Peggy Consolver – Author

Peggy Consolver has lived a very interesting life.  She grew up on a farm, went to college, and has been married 48 years.  She and her husband have two kids and five grandkids. She is president of the Plano Garden Club, State Chairman of the Flower Show Schools for Texas Garden Clubs, Inc.  Peggy is also an NGC Master Flower Show judge and Texas Design Consultant.  In the past she served thirty seven years as a Sunday School teacher.   She has a lot of interesting life experiences including traveling to Israel on a real archaeology dig which she based many details in her book on.  Read more about Peggy Consolver and her inspiring archaeological trip.

Free Online Study Guide

Peggy Consolver has created a free online study guide called Digging Deeper Into HIStory to help further the learning, (She also has a print copy with more resources for sale, check the website for details).  In the free study guide there are several links to websites and videos to help you learn more about what life is like in the region Kesheb lived.  In the guide you will learn about a rock sling, bow making, how to braid cord and make rope, maps, stars in the sky, animals and predators that live in the region of ancient Israel, etc.

The free Digging Deeper Into HIStory study guide is divided into 13 Units:

Unit 1:
The Bible Dictionary: Gezer Calendar
The Syrian Brown Bear: A Brief Overview

Unit 2:
Alpha Centauri: The Closest Star System to Our Sun
Israeli Mammals

Unit 3:
Instructions for Plaiting and Braiding

Unit 4:
Google Search: Aerial Views of Jerusalem
Sacred Destinations: Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Unit 5:
Honey: Its Medicinal Property and Antibacterial Activity
How to Make a Tripod Lashing
Watch video: making square lashing.

Unit 6:
Tutankamun’s Senet Board
Watch video: Wadi Mujib Nature Preserve

Unit 7:
The Jewish Virtual Library: Jericho
Watch video: Intro to Bow Making

Unit 8:
Mt. Hermon Pictures

Unit 9:
Weapons Universe: Bronze Age Weapons
Watch video: How to use a sling

Unit 10:
Smokey Bear: Elements of Fire
How to Make a Fire

Unit 11:
Israel’s Nature Site: Mantids of Israel
National Geographic: Praying Mantis Overview

Unit 12:
Wild Fibres: Linen and Flax

Unit 13:
Bible History: Biblical Archaeology News 2016

Our Thoughts Using This Book and Study Guide In Our Home:

This book is very well written with lots of details.  The story builds suspense and it is hard to put it down.  It is so interesting that my 12 year old spent all his spare time reading the book and several nights stayed up past his bedtime. 

So I thought it would be a good idea for him to share his opinion of this book, in his own words as our official review.

“I was inspired by this book.  It gave me a new perspective of the bible and the Lord.  I like the character Keshub because he has faith in the Lord and because he never gave up when times were rough.  He had a lot of rough times.  He fought a bully, a lion, a bear, and a soldier.  Each situation he had faith that God would work it out for him.”

“I was also inspired because he took care of sheep and took care of his family and his friend.  He was brave even when things were dangerous and even when others were evil.  He used a sling with stones to fight a bear and the lion.  He used a dagger to fight a soldier.  He always wanted to learn to sword fight the enemy and he wanted to provide for his family.  He trusted the Lord with all his heart and with everything in his life.”

“I enjoyed reading this book.  The only thing I wish the author would have added was another 439 pages.  I didn’t want the story to end.”  Joseph

We also enjoyed using the free Digging Deeper into HIStory Study Guide. We enjoy learning how to make things ourselves that people used throughout history to live.  They didn’t have modern abundance of products and plastic or a Walmart up the street, so folks had to make what they needed from raw materials they could find or buy from the craftsman or trade for.

My son would like to make his own cordage, leather, and also a rock sling and practice using it. He enjoyed learning and has watched other videos showing how to make these slings from leather and also from weaving grass and use them with larger rocks for hunting prior to doing this study.  This would be useful to learn how to use a rock sling if you were hungry and had to hunt for a bird or if you needed to discourage a predator.

He has been wanting to make his own primitive hunting bow for a while.  It was interesting to see the bow made in the unit study link, even though it is made in a workshop with modern tools and is very different from the primitive bow made by hand he eventually plans to make.  Modern tools have shortened the time it takes to make things people depended on for survival for thousands of years.  

Kesheb had to survive with ancient tools and ancient technology. We like learning about ancient technology and life skills.  We have learned a lot from “how to” videos. These videos show how to use ancient skills with free resources in your own backyard, a field, or a forest, to create pottery and tools by a youtube channel called “Primative Technology”.   We refered back to these videos as we did the study guide and compared them with the suggested videos.   I would encourage folks to do the same as these videos give kids even more understanding about making tools by hand and ancient pottery like Kesheb’s people would have used.  It would enhance their understanding of ancient Canaanite life and enhance the study guide even more. I would also encourage folks to read about Joshua and the Gibeonites in their bible.

This is a great historical fiction book.  I would encourage every homeschool to read Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer and include the Digging Deeper into HIStory Study Guide.  This book and unit study was right in my son’s interest range and we were very glad for this opportunity to review it.

Videos about the book:

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peggy.consolver

Blog: http://peggyconsolver.com/blog-right/

Homeschool Review Crew:

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using this product with their families.

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First Form Greek Review

My oldest son is fascinated by ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Roman history, their cultures, weapons, and their languages.  He is in high school and working towards his graduation transcript requirements. Thankfully, Memoria Press has many wonderful curriculum options that meet his variety of interests as well as requirements. 

He was thrilled to receive First Form Greek Complete Set by Memoria Press to review in our homeschool.  This course includes everything he needs to learn the ancient Greek language and it will meet his high school transcript language requirements.  This course fit perfectly in reaching his interests and goals. 

First Form Greek Complete Set

First Form Greek Complete Set

Grades 7-12

Retail $125

The First Form Greek Complete Set includes resources for both the student and the parent teacher.  It includes everything you need for learning ancient Greek.  Even though this is a beginner / intermediate level course for older students, it is recommended for the student to have some prior knowledge of Latin Language and to have learned the Greek Alphabet. Spending extra time learning Lesson 1 in the book will also help a new student learn this program if they have no prior experience.  See the course recommendations on the website for more details.

The First Form Greek Complete Set contains the following:

For the Student:

Lessons DVD

Pronunciations CD

Student Text

Student Workbook

Flash Cards

For the Parent / Teacher

Teacher Manual

Teacher Keys

Quizes & Tests Booklet

First Form Greek covers general vocabulary and grammar in a logical organized method.  The goal after finishing First Form Greek, is for the student to have mastered:

130 vocabulary words
Six indicative active tenses of the “omega” verb
Present tense of the “to be” verb
Two noun declensions
First & second declension adjectives
Personal & demonstrative pronouns

If your student desires to go further in their Greek studies, after completing First Form Greek, they will be better prepared for further studies in Greek New Testament and Septuagint or Classical Greek and understanding of Greek authors.

Items in the Complete Set:

Teacher Manual:

The First Form Greek Teacher Manual has everything the parent teacher needs to teach this class.  You don’t need prior experience, all the answers and explanations are provided for you and you can learn as you go.

The Teacher Manual contains:

a full copy of the Student Text with answers in color,

lesson plans for each day,

recitation schedule for each week,

oral drills,

parsing and analysis of Greek sayings,

references to similar linguistic features in Latin.

additional notes.

Quizzes & Tests booklet:

The Quizzes & Tests booklet contains:

reproducible weekly quizzes

unit tests that ensure material is being mastered,

and a grading rubric for the teacher.

Teacher Key:

The Teacher Key booklet contains:

answers to the workbook

answers to quizzes

answers to tests.

DVD Set:

The set of 5 DVD’s contains:

8 hours of instructions covering

10-20 minutes step by step lessons used at the beginning of each week.

Teacher: Elizabeth Pierce

Oral Drills

On Screen Examples

Onscreen Charts

CD:

The CD contains:

Pronunciation,

vocabulary,

sayings,

grammar forms for each lesson.

Student Text:

The Student Text contains:

26 Lessons + 5 Unit Reviews,

Lessons are on two facing pages.

 The student text provides a presentation of grammar in five units that cover 26 step by step lessons.  It includes appendices with English grammar, prayers, conversational Greek, a vocabulary index, etc.

Student Workbook:

The Student Workbook is focussed on logical practice and mastery of concepts and contains:

6 pages of exercises per lesson,

Lesson exercises to be completed in 4 days

Blank drill forms

Weekly reviews of vocabulary and grammar on day 5.

Unit reviews.

Flashcards:

Flashcards contain:

vocabulary,

Greek sayings,

grammar forms.

Our Thoughts Using First Form Greek

All of the resources in this set are wonderful high quality products.   So much is included to help you be successful and master Greek language skills.   Even though they have provided everything you need, this course is not easy!  It is very challenging and learning this language is harder than it looks!

This course is very well made.  I would personally expect to find such an indepth course in college, so high school students interested in this are really blessed to have such a high quality resource to work with.  I took French 1 and 2, German 1, and some intro in Latin for singers, in college and struggled learning languages because their were few resources.  I personally would have been thrilled with all the resources that are included in this set if I had this class in college!  It is very well put together.

My son and I found the DVD lessons to be an invaluable resource for this course.  I don’t think we could get through the class without them.  I know nothing about the Greek language, and it is very helpful to have a teacher on the DVD teach the lesson and demonstrate the correct pronunciation.  I am also thankful for the Teacher Manual and Test Key, because I would be lost without them when grading and trying to search for answers to my son’s questions.

Another thing I like about the text book is that it includes scriptures and talks about Jesus and encourages our faith.  I also like that it includes several pages of culture and ancient history with photos.

My son is very intelligent and focused in his personal learning objectives.  He devours every piece of information he seeks out.  He amazes me at his desire to learn knowledge.  There isn’t a day that goes by that he hasn’t done some extensive research into a subject.

He has taken an introductory class for Latin, and has learned a few Greek phonemes.  We moved in the middle of his Greek phonemes class, but expected he knew enough about Greek to take this course and do well in it.   We both thought he was better prepared to start this class than he actually was.

He went at it full force in the beginning and gave it his best effort for a few stressful weeks.  But he soon got discouraged because learning Greek was more challenging than he planned.

I would have probably given up by now trying to learn this language in my teenage or young adult years. When something was over my head, and I felt like I was failing, I would cut ties with it unless I could find a tutor or another solution to help me learn it.  I was blessed in college to find wonderful tutors and later able to become a tutor myself because I had such good caring examples.  My perspective about learning difficult things has changed as I am much older now, and the mother of six kids.   My attitude now is “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “don’t take everything life hands you so seriously” and pray and ask for guidance and keep going until you reach your goal.

After thinking through it, he decided to let go of the pressure of trying to do a lesson a week and continue his studies at a more relaxed and slower pace.

What we found that is currently working better for him is to spend more time watching and re-watching the video lesson of the week as he begins his Greek study each day to get it into his memory before reciting the words and phrases and trying to work in his workbook.  He has everything he needs so he can work independently at his own pace.  Next to him he set up his laptop to watch the DVD lesson as much as needed, and he has his text book and workbook right there too.   After watching the DVD lesson he reads the text lesson.  Then he can work on recitation, flash cards, and write in his workbook.  I only ask him to work 1 page a day in his workbook instead of the recommended two pages.   At this slower pace, each lesson will take him two weeks to complete instead of 1 week.  That is fine with me.

He is learning at a slower pace, and most importantly, at his own pace.   That is the beauty of homeschooling, you can adjust where you study and adjust the curriculum to fit each kid’s skills and interests as needed.  He is trying to absorb as much as he can in these high school years without getting overwhelmed as he tries to complete everything on the recommended highschool transcript for college.   He is wise in his young years to not give up, to try to think outside the box, and to keep pursuing his goals.  He is learning that you can adjust, life is flexible, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

I would highly recommend this course for folks who have taken introductory courses in Greek and those who are planning to study Greek on a college level.  Memoria Press has several lower level Greek courses to get started with if you have never had Greek before.   We plan to use the Elementary Greek courses and the Greek Alphabet course for our younger kids before letting them jump into this class that our older son is doing.   Learning Greek will be a bit easier if they tackle those courses first.  Be sure to check out the website recommendations and all of the various Greek language products they have to offer for different skill levels and ages.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/memoriapress/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/memoriapress/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MemoriaPress
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/memoriapress/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Memoria Press with their kids.

 

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Snowy Morning

We woke up last Sunday morning to a beautiful site.  SNOW!

This was the first snow of any accumulation we have had all winter. The crazy thing is, it came after weeks of 70+ degree temps and things had already begun to bud and bloom for spring.  This was a total surprise!

The snow flakes were huge!

And left us just enough material to create some snow structures!

After a little bit of fun, it was time to get serious!  They began to build a wall.

And an opposing team formed and began to build a wall too!

It soon became a race to see who’s fortress would be completed first.

The victor in his fortress.

The other team still struggling to complete their fortress before the materials melt away.

Soon a friendly snow ball went through the air and well…

…all construction came to a halt…

It was a fun morning in the fast melting snow.

Please share.

Manhood Journey Review

We were recently sent Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit to review published by Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio.

If you have ever wished there was an easy to use bible study for the men in your family, then I would encourage you to check this bible study out.

Manhood Journey Is A Revolution

Manhood Journey has started a revolution.  It is a non-denominational mentorship program for guys.  It is flexible and can be used by all guys ages 8 and older including: fathers, grandfathers, sons, nephews, neighbors, friends, and small groups, etc.

There are 6 level modules to the program.  Each module is intended to last a duration of 6 weeks.  Each module can stand alone, or you can complete all 6 levels for a total of 36 weeks of mentorship.

1. Embarking

2. Clean Hearts

3. Standing Strong

4. Manhood Myths

5. Working Well

6. Leading Lessons

Check out this short video that explains the purpose behind Manhood Journey Studies and see why it is so revolutionary to the mainstream culture we live in today.

Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit:

We received the Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit to review.  It comes with guided discussions and suggested activities to help guys get started in their journey of becoming a Godly man.  This handy kit contains everything you need to begin the journey, hold group discussions for up to 10 people, and complete the Embarking six week journey successfully.

Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit

Group Discussion Guide

1 on 1 Discussion Guide

DVD

10 Maprochures

Free Book: Wise Guys

Retail $29.99

This kit has a lot of resources.  I have listed below a short description of everything that came in our kit.

Embarking Group Guide

6 Week Group Discussion Guide.

This is the planning guide for the leader and is the starting point for all of the Manhood Journey group studies.  Suggestions in the book are intended to “break the ice”.   There are places to take notes and write down things the group shares.  There are discussion questions, prayers, and also suggestions for homework for the following meeting.  This guide helps the dad / leader bridge the gap to get guys talking together about the important stuff and what it means to be a “Godly Man”. This guide also helps get the guys oriented to the “five keys” or foundation stones of Biblical manhood.

Areas of Discussion:

Trust the Lord,

Pray Fervently,

Study God’s Word,

Build Relationships,

Serve Others.

Embarking 1 on 1 Discussion Guide

Next is the Embarking 1 on 1 Discussion Guide.

This handy book is for the Father Son meetings. It contains suggestions or “tips” for dad, personal discussion points, and activities to help father’s and sons 1) build the relationship 2) know God’s word, 3) serve others 4) talking with God.  Each week the guys will meet together to talk about a topic on Biblical manhood and share experiences.

Maprochures

The Maprochure is a visual guide.  It can be used to plan the Manhood Journey course you want to take and help you to encourage people to join the study.  It is a visual tool to equip dads and sons (or other guys) with information they need.  A small version of the map is also included in the back of the group and 1 on 1 discussion guides.

DVD

This DVD contains introductory videos for the group leader.

Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You

When you get your kit, it includes a bonus free copy of Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You by the Manhood Journey cofounder, Kent Evans.   He shares personal experiences, ups and downs, and God’s grace in his personal learning journey.  The book is an encouragement to help men dig deeper into their relationship with God and learning from the wisdom of Godly men around them.  He has included a sample lesson from the Embarking module at the back of the book.

Our Experience:

We started off with looking over the map and the DVD to understand the overall picture of the mentoring program, and then read through the guides. 

The material is easy to read and easy to follow discussion suggestions.


Our family spends a lot of time sitting and talking together and discussing scriptures they read.  This has been our routine since they were very little. These resources in this kit would be very helpful for families.  It gives dad’s with boys lots of ideas and suggestions for talking and building their faith.
Besides sitting together to talk, there are other times the guys share their ideas and what is on their heart.   One way dad and our sons talk about what is on their mind or talk about an issue of faith is while doing a task.  At our home, they are able to talk when they work side by side on projects around the house.  One of the favorite quality time activities they have been doing is woodworking when dad is home from work.  They also like to practice doing other things together while talking with dad. Another opportunity for fitting in discussions in our family is while the guys are driving to town to run errands and pick up supplies. The ride is a good quiet time together for them to talk about God and about issues of the heart.

I would definitely encourage families to spend  time together talking about issues of faith and the heart and looking at issues in our culture from a biblical worldview as much as possible.  A wonderful verse that comes to mind regarding “talking to kids” is a verse we try to live by found in Deuteronomy 11.

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,”  Deuteronomy 11:18-20

Check out this short video by Michael Kast Family Minister of South East Christian Church who also shares about the importance of fathers investing the time and resources to raise Godly sons and also shares a similar verse from Duetoronomy 6.

Useful Ideas For Using Manhood Journey:

Manhood Journey resources are flexible and could have many applications. These would make a great gift for a father, grandfather, son, brother, nephew, or other man in your life.   If you are a guy and want to lead a men’s group and are looking for new material to share, this would make a great resource for you too.

In addition to using this kit for the “father and son duo” in your life, here are a few more ideas for using these handy bible study resources:

Gift for men.
Father Son Bible Study,
Mentor relationship,
Church group study,
Local men’s group gatherings
Buisiness Men’s Fellowship
Parenting ,
Parenting Bible Study with tips for raising boys,
Bible Studies for Boys,
Homeschool Boys Curriculum

City On A Hill:

Social Media

Manhood Journey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/manhoodjourney
Twitter: https://twitter.com/manhoodjourney

City on a Hill
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FollowCityOnAHill
Twitter: https://twitter.com/COAHStudio
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/CityonaHillTV/videos

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using this product with their families.

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Building Beds

Well the big boys have outgrown everything, including their beds.  

They have asked for loft beds.  We searched everywhere for the right beds and couldn’t find an affordable option that could hold their “near adult” size.

So we set out to design and build our own loft beds custom made to fit each one.

Here are a few pictures of Daddy teaching the boys the beginning steps in how to build their beds.

Sanding boards smooth is a lot of work.  It took more time to sand than most of the other steps.

The boys are learning hands on carpentry skills from a master carpenter. These lessons will last a lifetime.

Be sure to check out the next story about DIY Loft Beds.

 

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Bessie’s Pillow Book Review

What would immigrating to America in 1906 be like? What if you were only 18 years old, female, and came by boat from Lithuania? What if you were in a life and death escape of persecution because you were born a Jew?   I was thrilled to receive Bessie’s Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. and follow the journey of Bessie.

Bessie’s Pillow

Soft Cover

279 Pages

Retail $15.00

This book is the life story of Boshka Markman who’s name was changed to Elizabeth (Bessie) when she immigrated to the USA in 1906.  She overcame tremendous obstacles and struggles.  Along the journey she showed kindness, determination, wit, and she successfully made the transition in a new culture and a new life.

Bessie is a survivor and makes her own way in America. Most women of the day were still in their “approved” roles, submissive to cultural norms, and did what they were told. But Bessie showed an inner strength and resilience mixed in with her own independence that allowed her to survive on her own and make her own way.   She was business minded and knew how to work a deal and worked her way towards her goals.  She rejected many of the cultural norms of the day, including opinions from family and the Rabbi, and finds her own way.

Before leaving Lithuania, a woman gave her a hand made pillow and asked her to find her son and give it to him.  He had also immigrated to America some time earlier.  Bessie wasn’t sure how she would find this person, but she enjoyed the comfort of the pillow on her journey.  She eventually does find the young man, Nathan Dreizen and they fall in love and get married. They work hard, build a business, buy a home, and establish their own family in America.  When her husband dies, she has to learn how to cope on her own and earn money to care for the family so she takes over her husband’s business, a role that is typically only reserved for males in society.  She also becomes a mortgage lender for family and friends to help them get a start in buying a home and reaching their goals too.

Though the book is written as historical fiction, Bessie is a real person and most of the information in the book really happened to her. The book covers her life between the years of about 1904 to 1936.  The books is written on a reading level for older students and adults, though younger students will enjoy it too.

We loved reading this story!  The experiences shared are realistic and were actually experienced by many immigrants when they left their home country and came to America at this time in history. Bessie faced huge obstacles being a young Jewish woman, that she had to overcome at this time in history.  Bessie’s Pillow will keep you on the edge of your seat as you experience the ups and downs and tragedies and successes right along with this amazing young woman.  My son loves reading and he enjoyed reading about Bessie’s journey and gives the book two thumbs up.

Video about Bessie:

Unit Study

Bessie’s America is a wonderful FREE online Unit Study Guide full of links to cross curricular resources that go along with Bessie’s Pillow.  This guide was created especially for middle and high school age students but can be used by the whole family for discussions and to further the learning in American history and cultural heritage, etc, and gives a lot of additional background. Bessie’s America is an interactive, multi-media guide for use by Teachers, Parents, and Students. The links and resources are helpful for students to do additional research.

There are additional study questions, and learning projects in Bessie’s Pillow Teacher Guide.

These additional resources will assist students in exploration of the cultural background, various musicals and theater, movies, radio, immigration, the Progressive Era, events, diseases, food and recipes, places, famous people and life events that Bessie and her family experienced.

Author Linda Bress Silbert:

The book is written by Bessie’s granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert as told to her by her mother.  Her mother asked her for many years to write the book. Linda has included some family photos at the back of the book that show several aspects of her Grandmother’s life.  She has also included many additional cultural and historical events in the back of the book to further the learning of the reader.

In addition to writing this wonderful historical fiction novel about her grandmother Bessie, Linda and her husband are also the owners of the StrongLearning.com publishing and tutoring company.

They have written over 40+ children’s books, plus additional books for parents and teachers.  They have sold over a million copies of their books over the years. They have also dedicated over 40 years to improving the lives and educational opportunities of children and provide a lot of great resources on their website.

Full Video is available about the process of how Bessie’s Pillow was written and came together.  Linda tells a very interesting and humorous way she gathered the stories of her grandmother and put the book together.  She says the book is 95% actual events of her grandmother’s life, and about 5% of the book comes from research she did about that time period in history.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BessiesPillow
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BessiesPillow

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other Homeschool Reveiew Crew had to say about using this book with their families.

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Creating a Masterpiece Review

Creating A Masterpiece is an online Fine Arts Masterpiece program for students of all ages.  They offer affordable and easy to follow step by step instructions by master artist Sharon Hofer.

We were given a 6 month subscription to the Monthly Plan for our whole family to use in exchange for trying it out and writing an honest review.  I was so inspired by the instructor that I am doing these art project lessons right along with my kids.  It is a lot of fun!

Creating A Masterpiece Monthly Plan

Online Fine Art Instruction

All Ages

Video Lesson (online)

Supply List (online and PDF)

144 Lessons

18 Media

58+ Fine Art Projects

Retail: $39 month.

This is an online fine arts program with 144 lessons covering 58+ projects. The projects are divided into 5 skill levels plus an Art History section.  The projects cover 18 different media types. This program is flexible and you can choose to work on a specific skill level or with a particular media.  It is recommended to complete at least one lesson a week. How you choose to progress through the program is up to you.  You can also move around in the program however it best suits your needs.

Levels:

Beginner
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Art History

ART MEDIUM:

18 different media are covered in the lessons and you can choose work with specific media rather than work on a specific level:

Acrylic
Batik
Block Printing
Carving
Conte’ Crayon
Copper Tooling
Glass Mosaic
Gouache
Ink
Mixed Media
Oil Painting
Oil Pastel
Pencil/Charcoal
Sculpture
Silk Painting
Soft Pastel
Watercolor
Wood Burning

Projects:

There are 58+ different projects.  You will need to decide on the project (choose either by level or by media) you wish to work on. Click on that lesson and go over the supply list as well as watch the video(s) to begin the project.

Each beginner lessons take about 1 hour or so to complete.  Most upper level projects have 3 to 5 lessons, and a few projects have as many as 7 lessons built in, so those projects will take longer to complete.

Check out this short 11 minute video of a young girl completing an online lesson and you will see how easy this program is for kids of all ages.

Supplies:

Each project has it’s own list of supplies needed.  Supply costs vary depending on the project you choose, and you may have some items currently on hand in your home, or you may need to purchase supplies in the craft section of your local store or online.  The program does not dictate how you buy the supplies, you are free to pick up your supplies however it works best for you to acquire them.

Sample:

If you would like to “try before you buy”, then check out the “Lessons in Soft Pastel” FREE Sample Lesson.  This is an excellent way to see how this program works.  You can also get the complete supply list of all the projects when you are given access for the sample lesson.

Art Teacher Sharon Hofer:

Sharon is dedicated and passionate that every student young and old regardless of skill level has the opportunity to create beautiful artwork and she is confident every student will excel with her program.

Sharon Hofer, has learned, mastered, and taught almost all forms of art media.  She began her love of art as a young child, and began her career teaching art while she was still a student in highschool.  She helped as a teaching assistant for the elementary grade art classes.  She went on to college and learned every media of art she could so that she could be the best teacher she could be.  She became a pastor’s wife.  She then homeschooled her own kids and taught them art.  She then taught other homeschool art classes in larger settings and her home art studio grew to over 180+ students a week.

She loves teaching art!

A quote from her website: “…you will be amazed at what they can do. As you will see, children as young as 4 – 5 can make masterpieces using media usually reserved for the high school student and beyond.” Sharon

Sharon is the owner and teacher of Creating A Masterpiece online fine art program, and the Hidden Acres Art School.  She has taught art classes professionally for over 16+ years.  She includes many forms of art media in her lessons so that each student has fine art instruction and exposure to a variety of learning opportunities.

Using this program with my family:

I love this teacher!!!  Before I did any research about Sharon’s background, that she was a homeschool mom, loved kids and teaching, or that she was a pastor’s wife, I felt a deep love for her.  I can’t explain it.  There was something so special about the way she presented herself and encouraged me right through the computer screen.  I knew she cared about me and my kids even though I had not met her in person.

I really like this program.  Sharon is so easy to follow and very encouraging. I have never heard an art teacher so easy to follow and interesting to listen to.  She is so encouraging that I want to, I desire to, make these projects. I am sure that sounds weird to someone who has not heard her speak, but trust me when I tell you that you will want to work on the project after you hear her teach the lesson.  You feel like you can do it!

This program is flexible in choosing what projects you want to do and when you want to do your lessons. We can log into our account from any computer, any time of day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and fit these lessons into our life where they fit best.

To do a lesson, my kids log into our account.  Then the kids gather the listed materials.  Next they begin implementing the steps they learned in the lesson.

You can listen to the lesson over and over again as you work and pause it whenever it is needed.  For example, you may want to let your masterpiece dry before moving onto another step, so pausing at a specific step is a good idea.  Also some of the lessons are broken down into short videos so you naturally pause between one video and the next.

We did improvise some of the materials where we needed too.  For example, for the lessons in watercolors, we didn’t have sponges on hand, so we used paper towels or just got extra water on our brushes to achieve similar (but not quite as nice) affects.  We also didn’t have the “nicer” paper for painting, so we used the paper we had on hand.  Sharon says in the water color lessons the lesser grade paper will wrinkle a little more as it gets wet and she gives instructions to iron the paper when completed to reduce wrinkles in the final product.  It still worked out great!  No worries!

Lessons in watercolors:

The first lesson we chose to do was a beginner level watercolor lesson with flowers. The lesson was divided into three short videos about 4 minutes, 5 minutes, and 6 minutes in duration.  After we watched the videos, we sat down to do the lesson and paused the video as needed and complete the steps as you let the project dry for a bit then watch the next section and complete it. Overall, the video and art project took about 45 minutes to 1 hour for each of my kids to complete.   This was very easy to do and motivated us to do more.

Floral Medley Project:

Lessons in Watercolor: Floral Medley

There are 3 videos in this project comprising one lesson for beginners.  The goal is to simply explore colors of flowers using water color paints and try to keep the main focus in the middle third of the page while placing various faded flower colors throughout the page.  Sharon teaches you the basics of watercolor and you can put your own ideas with it and use your imagination. 

The kids spread out throughout the house and got busy with their first project.  Some followed the steps closely and some improvised their projects.

Field of Wheat in watercolors:

More random flowers with watercolors:

Landscape Projects:

African Sunset

Another lesson in watercolors is painting landcapes.  This lesson shows how to paint an African landscape that includes a blazing sun.  Sharon has traveled to Africa many times and shares her first hand experience in creating this masterpeice.  This beginner lesson is made up of 2 videos and was a little more complicated than the floral medley lesson.

My son was working on a landscape picture here.  You need to let projects with watercolors dry in between stages so he was working on different ones giving him something to do while one was drying.  I took these pictures before he was through creating them.  

Other landscape projects:

Another son wanted to paint from his experience and enjoys the flowers (lupines) in bloom in the front yard. He wanted to make his landscape picture look like them. The front yard is an open space surrounded by pine trees with a sky above and the grass in front of the trees is filled with lupines in bloom.

Painting a yard landscape of lupines:

A younger sibling went out and picked a few to compare his picture to and he did a beautiful job expressing his idea of a field of lupines.

 

Lessons in Pencils:

Sunflower Project

Lessons in Pencil: Sunflower

The Sunflower project is comprised of 6 lessons divided into 14 videos.  “The students will start by drawing basic shapes and finish with a beautiful masterpiece. You will understand the importance of value as you learn how to shade. In creating this masterpiece you will be using tools such as kneading erasers, stiff-bristled brush, and tortillons.” (from the website).

My son age 12, not yet finished working on his sunflower:

Other sketches:

Using these lessons and the art work listed in the references, he sketched a sailboat

 

and also sketched a dog:

And he sketched a bird too:

Planning The Next Project:

There are so many options for wonderful projects with this program.  The next lesson I am looking forward to learning is working with clay (and I would like to work with concrete too).  My kids don’t have any experience with clay.  I have very little experience when I did ceramics in 4H as a child and made a few free hand projects.  That was over 30+ years ago.  I think I would enjoy creating projects with clay.  We are not really interested in making sculptures per se. but we are interested in making useful items with clay.  Sharon has a Level 1 Lesson working with self hardening clay and make’s a turtle in that lesson.  I think the techniques she teaches will be helpful as we work towards our goals.

Personally I want to make things that are practical and useful that I can put in the garden.  I would like them to serve a function such as to hold compost to feed worms, or collect water, or keep the birds from eating my seeds and fruits or interesting pots for plants to climb and drape from.  I am not sure yet what kind of clay will work for that or if I will need to consider a different type of media to use outdoors.  Some other future projects with clay or concrete I would like my family to do are earthen vessels that can hold water, vessels that can hold or cook food, beautiful flower pots, stepping stones and stone mosaics to walk out to the garden on and decorate some flower beds, and a bird bath for another area in the front of the house along the sidewalk.  I would like to make an outdoor oven that is beautiful and functional so I can bake bread and pizza but yet it is a work of art too.

Final thoughts:

The instructions for each lesson and clear and easy to follow and you can make improvisations where you want.  It is flexible and so simple to do. Everyone can create a masterpiece!

There are lots of art programs out there.  Some are in book form, and some are classes you attend.  Some are also in video format and you can use them right from the comfort, convenience, and freedom in your schedule right in your home.

If you are looking for an art program you can do from home, 27/7 at anytime day or night, with a competent art teacher and benefit from the most savings to your wallet,  then I would encourage you to buy a subscription to Creating A Masterpiece monthly plan or yearly plan.  I believe these lessons are more affordable and flexible and better instruction than other programs I have seen.

Low Cost divided into monthly, yearly, or various skill levels subscription plan.  An entire family (we have 8 people in our family) can use this program learning multiple kinds of media, for less than half of what it normally cost for 1 student to receive art instruction using only one form of media.

Choose a plan that meets the needs of your family:

If you bought the monthly plan for $39 a month, and you have 1 kid and he did one project a week, then each lesson would cost you about $10 plus your supplies.  This is very reasonable for professional instruction and convenience.

However, if you know you need more than just a few months worth of lessons, then consider the yearly plan subscription for $349 a year.   1 kid using the yearly plan completing only 1 project a week, your lesson costs would be about $6.71 ($349 / 52 = 6.71).  You are already saving money!   If your 1 child did two lessons a week, your cost would be $3.49 (349 / 52 / 2 = 3.49) for each lesson.  See where I am going with this?  The more lessons your child completes, the less each lesson costs.

But lets change up this a bit and look at it from my point of view.  I have six kids and using this program for art lessons is a huge savings for us.  Both the monthly and yearly plans are much more affordable than buying individual lessons in town for my kids.

In my case, our family will see a huge savings!  If you are in the same boat as me and you have 6 kids and each kid completes 1 lesson per week, then on the monthly plan would cost $1.62 (39 subscription / 4 weeks / 6 kids = 1.62) per child per week each month.  WOW!  The year subscription would cost even less at $1.12 (349 subscription / 52 weeks / 6 kids = 1.12) per child per lesson plus art supplies.  I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for art lessons for my children for this price.  I am truly thankful this high quality and affordable art program is available to us.

Social Media Links:

Facebook Creating a Masterpiece

Youtube Sharon Hofer

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other Homeschool Review Crew members had to say about using Creating a Masterpiece with their families.

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Nuggets of Wisdom

The word of God written in the bible is full of FREE nuggets of wisdom. These nuggets are worth more than silver or gold!  Yet they are FREE!

In my bible study today, I was reading in Ecclesiastes and came across some nuggets of wisdom that are not the usual advice about how to live life that you might expect to see.  However, if you take a close look you just might find your life in contrast, especially if you live in a wealthy modern society. I think these passages represent a profound truth usually missed by most people.

Increase Wealth

This book in the bible was written by the man who is said to have had the most wisdom and riches of any man who ever lived.  He is also a man who made many many mistakes.  He wrote this book during a time of deep self examination.

I summarized from Ecclesiastes 1-5  especially 5: 9-20.

If we try to increase our abundance of things, we will never be satisfied.  Our “pursuit of abundance” will result in vanity.

When increase comes to us, we should use what we need to live with joy and share the rest with family and friends.  When increase from the earth comes, it is for all those who labor as well as for the king.  All are to enjoy the fruit (increase) of the labor.  When blessings come, they are for everyone to enjoy, not for one person or a few persons, to hoard.

The only blessing in this life that we have on earth that is of any lasting value is to have joy while we eat and drink and enjoy our family, and be happy with the work of our labor.  Everything else, every pursuit of anything else in life is vanity and will perish.

Everything else including trying to increase your possessions will vex (curse) your spirit and cause illness and cause you to loose sleep at night.  Nothing we can build will bring us lasting happiness and we will die naked the same way we were born with nothing in our hands.

This nugget of truth is the opposite of what we are taught to pursue in our modern culture.  If we could grasp this nugget, and apply it, we could be FREE of so much bondage.

Bondage

Is achieving the “American Dream” the pursuit of true wealth?  Will you come to the end of your life and realize you were mislead? Will you realize you spent your life in bondage and were never truly free?

What does vanity mean?

van·i·ty
1. lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness
2. something worthless, trivial, or pointless.
3. excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit:
4. an instance or display of this quality or feeling.
5. something about which one is vain or excessively proud

(quote from online dictionary)

So vanity is WORTHLESSNESS and Shelfishness and Pride.  Vanity is pride in one’s acheivements that actually result in a bound hollow pointless life.  It is worth less than what it boasts and pretends because it is an exaggeration of value. Vanity is the opposite pursuit of true wealth.

According the wisest and richest man who ever lived, wealth is not equivalent to things.   He said pursuit of things is bondage of spirit, like putting a curse upon one’s life, and is a vain pursuit that will result in nothing.

A person only needs what he can carry in his own hands to help him eat, drink, and enjoy his family and have joy in his work. All else is vanity in this world.

“Increase in wealth” should not also mean “increase in things”.  You can truly be wealthy and happy without stuff!

In modern society we are falsely shown that wealth equals owning a big house(s) or nice appartment in an expensive neighborhood, expensive cars, fancy trips and vacations, expensive clothes, college degree (s),  high ranking jobs that pay big incomes, expensive jewelry, eating at expensive restaurants, going to expensive sporting events and performances, etc.  It is all about having “things that represent riches”.

But will having a resume with a college degree, and work history of high paying incomes, owning a house in a nice neighborhood with two cars in the attached garage, a green manicured lawn, and money in the bank equal to a life of true wealth?  Is the abundance of things and money equal to real wealth?  Is riches the same as wealth?

This truth is free and will set you free!

Wealth is freedom from debt and bondage.

Wealth is freedom from competition.

Wealth is the ability to be happy and joyful and sleep without worry.

Wealth is freedom from people pleasing.

True wealth is being happy simply by being content with eating and drinking with family and friends and with the work you do, while you live in a place of the size that provides just what you need to live a simple life and the ability to share the abundance of the increase with others.

As I thought about these truths, I realized this nugget of truth that wealth is being FREE from vain pursuits, I felt as though I had discovered an amazing treasure.  

Reducing possessions to a level that is “just what is needed” to happily work (not struggle or be discourage to earn a living) and eat (nutritious food) and drink (pure clean water) and sleep well (at peace) while you enjoy the company of family and friends in your community is real wisdom!  This should be the American dream and the pursuit of all of humanity.

The truth in the bible is free for everyone.  It shows us how to avoid living a vain worthless life.  Salvation is free for everyone too.  Jesus came to save everyone who calls on his name and accepts him as their savior and obeys him.  He told us to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as we love our own self and share our abundance and meet their needs.  The bible also says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and that true wisdom is worth more than silver or gold.

There are nuggets of truth in the bible worth more than silver and gold and if you apply them you will live a life that is wealthy, blessed, and wise!

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Circle C Stepping Stones Review

If you are looking for a wholesome and fun book series for your kids to read, then give your kids access to the Circle C  books written by Susan K. Marlow available through Kregel Publications.  My kids are HOOKED!  Don’t even try to pry these books from their hands!

We were recently sent two new books by Susan K Marlow to review from the Andi series, Circle C Stepping Stones : Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top .

The Circle C book series are wonderful!  They focus on the life adventures of a girl named Andrea Carter (Andi), her family (brothers, sister, mom, dad (he passed away when she was around 6 or so).  You also learn about her relationships with ranch hands, the housekeeper, and her various friends.

Each Circle C book series about Andi’s life is set in the late 1800’s (1870’s-1880’s) in rural California, and is a historical work of fiction.  Many of the historical facts are true even though the actual characters are made up.   These stories are well written and include a glossary of new “vocabulary words” at the beginning, beautiful hand drawn illustrations, and at the end of the book is a “History Fun” section that gives more details about different aspects of life in the 1800’s.

Through out all of the Circle C stories, in all the different series, kids learn about what life was like in the Old West.   The main setting of the series is Andi’s family’s ranch and sometimes involve her trips to various events or places in town.

All of the books are written from Andi’s point of view.  We learn about challenges she faces, her hopes and dreams, the goals she works towards, her relationship with God and building her faith, her love for animals, and her relationships with friends and family and ranch hands who help out around the farm.  Kids also learn many details that go into homesteading and taking care of horses.

There are six Circle C Stepping Stones books in all:

  • Book 1: Andi Saddles Up
  • Book 2: Andi Under the Big Top
  • Book 3: Andi Lassos Trouble (November 2017)
  • Book 4: Andi to the Rescue (November 2017)
  • Book 5: Andi Dreams of Gold (July 2018)
  • Book 6: Andi Far from Home (July 2018)

My kids and I highly recommend these books.  The Circle C books are fun to read and are a great collection of interesting and character building stories for kids.  They will challenge your kids to trust God and do the right thing when they face choices in life.  The only questionable side effect of letting your kids read these books might be that every kid will want to own a horse!  Put these books in their hands and your kids will be HOOKED too!

Andi Saddles Up

Andi Saddels Up

By Susan K Marlow

Illustrated by Leslie Gammelgaard

For kids (BOYS and GIRLS) ages 7-10

Paperback

104 Pages

ISBN # 978-0-8254-4430-2

Retail $7.99

The first book in the Circle C Stepping Stones series is called Andi Saddles Up.  It takes place in the Old West in the spring of 1877.  In this story, Andi turns 9 years old and earns the “grown up” rite of passage of freedom to ride her three year old horse named Taffy whenever she wants to and without supervision.  This is a big deal because up till this point she used to ride under the supervision of her older brother which caused some internal conflict for her.  She doesn’t always like her older brother bossing her, but he has stepped up to keep an eye on her safety and run the ranch since their father died.  Also because the horse was young, she had to usually ride her bareback.  But now the horse was old enough for the weight of a saddle and a rider.

Also during this story, Andi’s family is in a land dispute with another rancher because a flood changed the course of the creek boundary that bordered their properties.  Andi’s family stands to loose a lot of acreage if they allow the other rancher to keep the land that was cut off by the creek.  Her brother stands up to the other rancher and they struggle to resolve the conflict. During this time, Andi also becomes friends with a girl named Sadie. The girls have a lot in common, they both live on ranches, and they really like each other.  When they learn their families are the ones arguing over the new boundary disagreement their friendship is put to the test.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances when Andi gets hurt, the families learn to forgive and work through and overcome.  So many powerful messages are conveyed through this book, it is a very exciting read for kids and adults too.

Andi Under the Big Top

Andi Under The Big Top

By Susan K Marlow

Illustrated by Leslie Gammelgaard

For kids (BOYS and GIRLS) ages 7-10

Paperback

112 Pages

ISBN # 978-0-8254-4431-9

Retail $7.99

When my kids were through with book one, they couldn’t wait to jump into book two.  In Andi Under the Big Top, Andi goes to the Circus.  This story is filled with excitement! My kids were on the edge of their seats!

After church one day, while waiting on her family, Andi finds out from a friend that the circus is coming to town.   We have to wait a whole week with Andi until the “big day”.  During the wait, she practices all sorts of silly tricks imagining herself in the circus.  Finally the big day arrives and she goes with her brother and sister to see the circus and they ride on their horses all the way there.

At the circus, Andi meets a boy named Henry.  He works for the circus.  Andi thinks his life is great and exciting until she learns he is a runaway, and he is trapped working for the circus. She realizes his life is not so great and she feels sorry for him and wants to help him get free and return to his family. She takes a huge risk in helping him, and eventually her family helps him too.   You will need to pick up a copy for yourself to hear the rest of the story!

This story is so exciting you just won’t be able to put the book down until you are through!  Susan K Marlow has done such a great job with details and suspense and dealing with the real heart issues people experience in life in these books!

Additional Resources

Unit Study Guides

FREE Downloadable Unit Studies are available for each of her books.

Or you can purchase a printed 56 page copy of the study guide for the first two books (Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top) in the Stepping Stones series level for $6.00.

Each Unit Study Guide that Susan K Marlow produces is filled with lots of cross curricular learning opportunities.  Kids learn about history, geography with maps, culture, arts and crafts, science, language arts, bible study, math, music, and extra special project focus for each story like learning the Morse Code when we learned about the Telegraph, and about the bone structure in the arm and how to care for a broken bone, and wood working skills to build their very own set of wooden stilts (or you can make a different version with tin cans) and so much more.

Inside the study guide for each book is a suggested lesson plan with a 28 day schedule.

So if you followed this plan the way it is designed, and worked on one book and unit study guide curriculum and lapbook for 4 days a week, for about an hour +/- each time, it would take you 7 weeks to complete the whole thing.   You could complete a lesson a day and finish in 4 weeks, or do it twice as fast and complete two lessons a day and finish it in 2 weeks.  You can set your own pace.  Your kids will be so excited to find out what happens next!

But if you want to go slower (my personal preference), and work on the book and unit study and lapbook about 2 days a week, giving it time to “sink in”, it would take you about 14 weeks to complete.  Even if you only have time to work on this wonderful unit study 1 day a week, and fit it in for an hour+/-, this fun curriculum with interesting activities and projects, and lots of suspense that will keep your kids wanting more, this could last you a full 28 weeks!  This curriculum is so flexible, it is a real homeschool treasure!

Coloring Pages

FREE Coloring Pages are available for each book.  These are designed by the same illustrator of the books and are the pictures found scattered throughout different chapters. They are very detailed and beautiful!

Lapbooks

Lapbooks, lapbooks, lapbooks….they have lapbooks!!!

Did I mention they have lapbooks?

Lapbooks have been created (by A Journey for Learning) for each of Susan K Marlow’s books, with printables and projects and loads of fun!  These work great along with Susan K Marlow’s Unit Study Guides for an awesome well rounded curriculum filled with projects.  This is a wonderful way to further the learning.  Your kids will have a fun “scrapbook” of memories of their learning adventure to share with family and friends when they are through.

We have completed one these lapbooks previously for another Circle C book by Susan K Marlow we reviewed called Tales from the Circle C Ranch .  These lapbooks are so much fun to make, and they help kids tie all the learning together in a hands on way. We love using lapbooks and unit studies and they have been a big part of our homeschooling over the years because they make learning fun and easy for kids to remember and share what they have learned.  These lapbooks created for the Circle C books are very well made with lots of fun projects and we would like to have them ALL!

Bundles

You can purchase the books by themselves for $7.99 as mentioned above, or you have the option to purchase the books and resources in various bundles. See the website for more details. 

Paper Dolls

There are also beautiful paper dolls available.  Pictured below are a few for you to see.  Check the website for all the paper doll options available.

Author Susan K Marlow

Susan K Marlow has authored many books for children of all ages (I think there are 25+ books currently available).  These books are fun and filled with adventures that will keep your kids interested all the way through. Susan is a homeschool mom who understands the needs of homeschool families for wholesome affordable and interesting curriculum that kids will enjoy.   She lives with her husband on fourteen acres on a mountain in north-central Washington.  She has four grown children and ten grandchildren.

In addition to a lot of great children’s books she has written, she has also authored unit study guides for EVERY book!  She offers the guides in both a printed “for sale” option and digital download “for free” option too.  These guides are cross curricular and help further the child’s learning about their faith in God, history, culture, crafts, science, math, music, language arts skills, and more.  Susan is passionate about reading and writing and she has also authored a writing curriculum for kids called “Reach for the Stars“.  She also sponsors an annual writing contest and shares giveaways on her blog.  The writing contest is called Circle C Short-story Writing Contest.

Susan K Marlow books are divided into 5 different levels of wholesome reading fun.  She is busy writing and adds in new books all the time.  She has something to peak your interest for all ages!

In addition to the “Circle C Stepping Stones” level for kids ages 7-10, she has also written a “Circle C Beginnings” level for kids ages 6-9 , “Circle C Adventures” level for kids ages 9-13, “Circle C Milestones” level for kids ages 11 and older, as well as another series of books called “Goldtown Adventures” for ages 8-12, about the life of a boy named Jem who lives in an old mining town.

Check out this video about the “Beginnings” series:

Check out this video about the “Adventures” series:

Check out this video about the “Goldtown Adventures” series:

Final Thoughts

My kids have read several of the Circle C books and love them all.  We are in the beginning stages of building a family library filled with these wonderful books.  So far we have read six of Susan K Marlow’s books: Tales from the Circle C Ranch, Thick as Thieves, Heart Break Trail, The Last Ride, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top.  My kids have asked me over and over to get all of the books available. That is a lot of books, and I want the study guides and lapbooks to use to complete the wonderful curriculum program too.  So I have a long wish list!

The kids have really enjoyed learning about Andi’s life and how people lived in the Old West in the late 1800’s in rural California.   I think anyone can relate to her life to because she has the same ups and downs as any kid growing up.  But I think my kids can relate even more to some of the details about Andi living on a farm and caring for animals because we have homesteaded for several years too.  We also have a big family of 6 kids, and they can all relate to Andi and her family relationships between brothers and sisters.   These details make the stories so realistic, relatable, and her life journey is interesting, and the challenges she faces keeps the children asking for more.

As a parent, I am thankful there are wonderful authors like Susan K Marlow who write wholesome children’s books like these.  We are looking forward to building an entire library and homeschool curriculum with these wonderful resources.

Kregel Publications

Since 1949, Kregel Publications has been supplying Christian resources to meet the spiritual needs of Christian families, schools, pastors, missionaries, teachers, and Christian leaders.   They currently publish over 900 titles including books on Christian education and ministry, contemporary issues, Christian living, fiction, and biblical studies, as well as many reprints of classic literature.  They offer something for everyone, so stop by their website and see what they have to meet the needs of your family too.

Social Media

Be sure to check out the various Social Media links for all the latest news and product updates:

Twitter (Kregel Books): https://twitter.com/KregelBooks
Twitter (Susan K Marlow): https://twitter.com/SuzyScribbles
Facebook (Kregel Books): https://www.facebook.com/KregelBooks/
Facebook (Susan K Marlow): https://www.facebook.com/SusanKMarlow?fref=ts
Youtube (Susan K Marlow): https://www.youtube.com/user/susankmarlow/videos?view=0&shelf_id=0&sort=dd
Andi’s Blog: https://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew have to say about using books and resources written by Susan K Marlow with their kids.

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Campfire Cooking with Kids

Campfire Cooking With Kids

The kids are learning to cook over a campfire.  This has been an ongoing learning adventure for several months now.   We have tried several different methods for starting fires, making our own camp stoves, as well as different ways of making the campfire pit.

After trying several different arrangements, we came up with one we like the most and have kept for several months now. We use it once or twice a week as the weather and time permits.  We really enjoy afternoons and evenings around the campfire.

We started off with simple learning techniques like where to build a fire safely, how to start a fire (matches, lighter, flint, feroconiom rod), how to use different tinders (wood chips, small sticks, dead leaves, tree bark, dead grass and dry plants, cotton balls, cordage, clothing, etc) to get the fire going strong, locating where to gather wood safely, and learn how to split wood into small sizes for burning,  etc.

We built fire starter kits for the kids to keep and learn to use.  This has been a wonderful resource.  Our first kits were made with a salvaged bottle for storing, a few types of tinder, matches, and a feroconium rod and striker.  When they used up all the stuff in their first kits, we built new kits that include more of the first, but also added in a lighter, additional versions of strikers, fatwood, etc.  By far my son’s favorite method is starting a fire with his striker and a cotton ball.  We hope to build a bow drill and learn that method soon.

Once they mastered the art of starting a fire, we learned how to build a firepit.  Over time we built a few different arrangements of campfire pits.   This whole process has been a great learning experience for the kids and a fun way to spend family time together.

The current campfire pit version we are using is our favorite so far.  We found some old bricks someone had left behind from a construction project.  These are not the usual bricks you would want to build an outdoor kitchen with, but we are using what we have on hand and getting by with them for now.   We dug an “L” shaped hole in the ground and built a loose brick wall around the back side of the hole.  The back wall is tall, and the sides come part way around, then we have a short wall of bricks across the front as a fire stop and safety zone.  Safety is very important to keep in mind when you have an outdoor fire.

We also found some metal and an old grate someone had thrown away and used them as cooking surfaces by connecting them into the loose brick system above the fire to give us more ways we can cook food.   We also put a separate small wall about half way at the back.  This additional wall was needed to help support the grill top on one side and the metal bars on the other side and it also allows us to use either 1 side of the fire or both sides for cooking so we can make a bigger or smaller fire as desired.

Using a brick or rock wall on one side of your fire makes a lot of sense.  The bricks make a nice windbreak and help to retain the heat from the fire, and then help reflect the heat back towards the people sitting around the fire.   I plan to upgrade the pit with some special tiles for baking bread and pizzas on one side soon.  I found a local store that carries the fire tiles for break baking.  I am very excited about baking nice breads over the campfire. Maybe someday I can make a real outdoor pizza oven too.

The arrangement is large enough that we can choose to cook on the grill, the metal bars, flat rocks or bricks, or over the open fire and coals with roasting sticks or pans.  So we can cook up high or down low with several options as needed.  We made the pit so we can have a fire on one half, or just move hot coals over on one half while a hotter fire burns on the other half, or use the whole entire thing in a bigger campfire if desired.  With 8 people in the family, this arrangement gives us all enough room to gather in front of the fire and benefit from the heat being reflected back in our direction.

We let the fire die down and put it out before going into the house.  The next morning when the pit is nice and cool, the kids remove the ashes from their fire and sprinkle them on the location we plan to build our garden. The ashes will provide wonderful nutrients already broken down and released from the organic matter they were bound in for our plants to use.  We learned this trick many years ago when we used to heat our home with wood.

His New Wrought Iron Pan

Our 12 year old loves cooking on the campfire and would truly cook on it every day if he could.  He is the reason we got into the habit of cooking outside weekly.  He wants to try new things and master various skills.  After he gets his fire going, and his coals nice and hot, he usually cooks tea and different kinds of soups with his own stainless steel pot.   He has made potato soup, rice, chili, cheesy potato bacon soup, chicken noodle soup, and Ramon noodles.

He recently bought is own wrought iron skillet to expand his cuisine options. To start with he learned how to oil and season his new pan and care for it properly.  He also has his own knife and cutting board so he is ready to make lots of different things.  He is getting great practice and is learning to cook with his new skillet over the open fire.

This day we were cooking turkey burgers, beef hotdogs, sliced potatoes in foil packets, and he was making his own Cowboy BBQ Beans in his new iron skillet.

He had placed a brick over some coals next to the fire to hold his pan level while it cooked.  It took them no time at all to come to a rolling boil.  He had to pull his beans off the fire a few times and stir them to prevent them from sticking and burning in the pan.  His beans turned out very nice, the sugars caramelized and the beans had a hint of smoke flavor of the fire.

Almost everything was done cooking at the same time.  That is one of the blessings to having a large working space in this campfire with various spots to set the different foods we were cooking.

When his food was done, he combined his hotdog with his bbq beans for his own version of “beenie weenies”.   This was new for him as I haven’t fed the kids beenie weenies before, and he was excited to try them.

He was very pleased with how his “cowboy meal” turned out and thought he could handle making and eating this out on the open range bringing in the cows or up the side of a mountain while on a hike someday.  I hope to teach him to make either biscuits or bannock (old fashion cowboy or Indian bread) and chop up some wild greens to go with his meal next time.  He found some wild garlic growing in the yard that was already seven inches tall in February.  The plant looks like fresh chives and has a small bulb at the bottom when you pull it out of the ground.  He brushed the dirt off and tried it fresh.  It was spicy!  We also found a couple of violets in bloom in the front yard.  Soon the dandelions will set on some nice leaves for making a raw salad base or to use as a sauted spinach.  The pine trees are also budding and the baby pine buds are nutty and delicious and the needles make a nutritious tea.  We have a book he will be using this spring to locate various wild edibles that he can include to improve the nutrients in a meal such as this.

I am very proud of this young man’s achievements.  He gets an idea, puts his mind to it, and is not afraid to work toward his goal and see it through.  He is currently making a homemade longbow.  He has found the branch of wood, removed the bark, and carved it into the shape he desired.  He has yet to soak the wood and increase the arch slightly and locate the cordage he will be using.  I have no doubt he will reach his new goal.

Learning to cook over a campfire is a fun experience.  The skills learned and self confidence gained will benefit kids the rest of their life.

Please share.