Category Archives: Curriculum

GrapeVine Studies Reivew

Have you wanted to remember your bible study?  Do you easily forget what you have read? When I think about history, and how people remembered stories to tell the next generation, they often used a variety of stick figure pictures to convey their message.  Stick figures are universal and easy to make and understand for most people of all ages.  The artifacts we have left show that people either drew them with charcoal or painted them onto rocks or cave walls, drew or carved shells or beads, and some people carved them into walking sticks, bone or wooden boxes, and totem poles.  However the story was shared, simple stick figure drawings have been a form of communication and remembering stories since the beginning of time.

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We were recently sent a product called Birth of Jesus: Multi Level Bible Curriculum from GrapeVine Studies to learn how to stick figure our way through the bible and understand and remember what we have learned.

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Stick figuring through the bible is a revolutionary yet ancient idea for helping your kids understand and remember their bible verses.  You can bring the story to life and make the stories easy to share with pictures like ancient people’s did.  I have seen this phenomenon going around for the past few years, some folks use doodles and paints, and some bible studies use stick figures.  I came across a homeschool mom’s website a few years ago who had been stick figuring through the bible with her kids and I was fascinated with the idea and put it on my “someday” to do list to learn more.   Well my “someday” finally arrived a few months ago when we were sent GrapeVine Studies curriculum to review in our homeschool.

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Birth Of Jesus: Multi Level

GrapeVine Studies

For Elementary Age Students

e-book PDF Download (other formats available)

Price varies depending on format you choose, see website for purchase details.

This is a whole new way to do Bible Study with your family!


What We Received:

Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level Student e-Book:

  • Ages 7+
  • lessons pages,
  • timelines,
  • map,
  • memory verses,
  • and reviews.
  • 48 pages.

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Traceable for Multi-Level e-Book:

  • Ages 3-6
  • lessons pages,
  • timelines,
  • map,
  • memory verses,
  • reviews
  • 48 pages.

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Birth of Jesus Teacher’s e-Book:

  • lesson notes,
  • stick figure drawings,
  • lesson goals & key points,
  • memory verses,
  • review questions & answers.
  • 64 pages

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How We Used GrapeVine Studies

The first thing I did when I received my e-books was print them out.  I hole punched them and placed them into a 3 ring binder, but many of my friends also take them to the local office store and have them spiral bound for ease of use.  You can also purchase GrapeVine Studies books already printed and bound and ready to use, they come in several format options to fit your needs.

Next you need to get your supplies ready and put them in a basket, milk crate or an easily accessible container for bible study time.


Supplies Needed To Complete GrapeVine Studies Include:

  • Lesson pages for each student
  • Teachers Book pages for lesson instructions
  • Bible
  • Bible Dictionary
  • Atlas of the Bible Lands
  • Dry erase board and/or a chalk board (for mom)
  • Dry erase markers and/or chalk (for mom)
  • Colored pencils

I gave each child their own binder, and we worked on the GrapeVine Studies with our bible study for 10 minutes to 20 minutes four days a week.   For my younger children I give them the traceable pages, and the older children I give the blank pages for them to draw out the story. This study is meant to last 5 weeks by doing 4 lessons each week or a total of 128 lessons.  Each product from GrapeVine Studies is different so be sure to check the length of other products if you are looking for a longer or shorter time frame.


Schedule 10 to 20 Minutes Each Day

  • Monday: Timeline Review Page
  • Tuesday: Lesson page 1
  • Wednesday: Lesson page 2
  • Thursday: Student Drawing Page


Extra Day 5 (Friday).  We added our own ideas to further the learning for Fridays.  We did a variety of things like have the kids retell the story, make a lego creation to retell the story, act out the story, etc.  Check out our Further the Learning Ideas posted below if you would like to do this study in 5 days a week instead of 4. This product is very flexible and you can adapt it to your needs.

Further the Learning:

These are our “extra” ideas for making the GrapeVine Studies into a 5 day curriculum.  We love Unit Studies, and I felt this curriculum was easy to expand into a fun bible unit study for my kids to enjoy.  This is a great curriculum to accompany what you are already doing or to stand on its own.  You can include it for circle time with younger children, individual study for older children, or family bible study too.  We made it into the bible portion of our unit study learning about the Birth Of Jesus.   This is such a flexible curriculum and easy to adapt to any situation.

Field Trip:

  • Take a field trip to a local museum and look at artifacts that contain stick figures.  Have the children compare these with their stick figures of bible stories.
  • Take a virtual field trip online and learn about stick figures on ancient artifacts and on cave walls.

Screenshot (281)Ancient “Jonah” stick figure. (Image source)

Recent discoveries of ancient Jewish artifacts reveals a rich history of stick figures and even their written language reveals stick figures.  Here is a picture of the story of Jonah discovered on a tomb in 2012.    You can find many examples like this to look at with your children in museums and online.

Study Language:

Ancient Greek and Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, as well as many other languages look like stick figures. Find examples of these languages online and have the kids guess what story they are telling, or what the different characters stand for.  See if they can identify stick figures and a story in ancient writings.  Check out wikipedia for an explanation of the history of stick figures in history.

Gift Idea:

  • Have the kids make a stick figure bible verse card for someone’s birthday, holiday, or anniversary.
  • Using cinamon sticks or tree branch sticks and hot glue, have the kids recreate a scene from their GrapeVine Studies and give this as a gift.
  • GrapeVine Studies stick figure scene painted or drawn onto rocks to give away as paperweights or give a whole story on rocks that can be displayed to retell the story.

Snack Ideas:

  • Have the kids make pretzel stick figures with pretzels, raisins, mini marshmallows, olives.
  • They could also use cheese sticks and olives with the help of a toothpick inbetween to hold them together.
  • Another fun idea would be to bake a stick figure scene from the GrapeVine studies with a bread stick dough.  Have the kids shape their stick figure scene on a cookie sheet and bake it to look just like their page.  This could be their centerpiece on the table at supper as they share the bible story with daddy or company who might come to visit, especially if using the Birth Of Jesus or the Resurection of Jesus GrapeVine Study near the holidays.

Arts and Craft Ideas:

  • Decorate a binder with stick figure animations to personalize it and hold their GrapeVine Studies bible study pages.  You can also create a lapbook, or create lapbook flaps they can keep in their binder to store maps, or mini booklets, etc that you might want to include if doing this as a unit study.
  • Go outside and find some sticks and and make puppets re-create one of the bible story’s they studied in their GrapeVine Studies.    Use the GrapeVine Studies pages as a script to re-tell the story with their stick figure puppets.
  • Use chalk and draw their GrapeVines Studies onto the side walk at a park or public area to share the gospel with others.
  • Paint rocks with the bible story using stick figure story ideas from GrapeVines Studies.  Retell the story to family and friends.   Could make a special bag or box and give this as a gift to a loved one that they could then display in their home.   This would be great to stick figure paint the nativity on rocks for Christmas too.

Lego Skit Ideas:

Legos look kind of “stick figure like” and every kid I know loves to play with Legos.  Using the pages from GrapeVine Studies as their written skit, have the kids re-tell the story using Legos. This is one of my kids favorite “extra” learning activities.

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Final Thoughts

I was really excited to review this product.  When I was younger,  I used to doodle in my bible and made notes in the margins.  It was my attempt to understand what I was reading and remember it.  Nowadays, I mostly use a spiral bound notebook to keep my bible study notes.


Handwriting out long notes during bible study doesn’t really work for most of my children, especially my younger children, because they are not yet strong readers or writers.   Thanks to GrapeVine Studies we now know the kids can keep their bible study notes drawn in stick figure form, and they will remember what they have learned and be able to retell the story themselves.

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Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

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ARTistic Pursuits: The Elements of Art and Composition Review

Do you need a fun art study project for your middle school aged kids? Then you might want to check out   Middle School 6-8, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition by ARTistic Pursuits.

middle school

ARTistic Pursuits
Middle School 6-8 Book One
The Elements of Art and Composition
Ages 11 and older
Retails for $47.95

With this art curriculum, kids will complete 68 origional works of art as they learn to draw.  Contains 36 weeks of lessons.   There are 16 units and each unit has 4 lessons.  Each unit follows the same pattern:

  • Build a Visual Vocabulary
  • Art Appreciation and Art History
  • Techniques
  • Application

Building a visual vocabulary involves learning how something can be described and then translated into a picture.  It involves connecting real world experiences and observations with ideas through art.

Art Appreciation and Art History involves studying how the great art masters conveyed a topic in their art and then the student applies this knowledge to their own work of art.

Techniques involves learning how to combine knowledge and tools.

Application involves involves a creating a final work of art using everything they have learned.

Art supplies needed to complete the curriculum are listed on the Getting Started page as well as a complete content list of units and lessons covered.


At the end of the book there is an evaluation page.   You can judge your students work and assign a grade based on these levels:

  1. Creative Exersise
  2. Challenge
  3. Drawing Technique
  4. The Project

This is a full year of art curriculum if you use it for 1 hour twice a week.  You can go faster or slower depending on the skills of your child.

How we used this curriculum

We received the book in order to facilitate this review.  We purchased our own art materials.  The super nice thing about this curriculum is that kids can accomplish a whole lot with only a few items, some of which you might already have.  This art curriculum is a win win for a homeschool budget!


With this art curriculum, kids get to create their own origional works of art. They learn to free hand sketch art projects mentioned in the book, and they they apply these techniques to sketching some thing they observe in their own environment.


In each lesson, they learn art history as well as art technique as they work their way through the book.  The lessons are basic and easy to follow.  Most students at these age levels will be able to work through this curriculum independantly depending on their reading skill level.



Sometimes my kids wanted to take the lesson a step further and here is one where my son wanted to go beyond just sketching the piece.  He wanted to ad color in his picture too.  I gave him freedom to create it however he wanted too.


On a sunny afternoon, his brother took his book outside to learn to draw and practice his skills.  He enjoyed doing his school work sitting next to his pet cat and pet chicken.


Say what?  You don’t see her amongst the many shoes the kids kicked off their feet on the porch?  Oh yeah, his pet chicken is in the chair stitting right beside him.  Enjoying your pets, while you do your homework outside listening to the birds  and nature in your bare feet is just one of the many perks of being homeschoolers!


My kids love to draw.  Now they are learning specific techniques to make their drawing more realistic and becoming more aware of what they are observing in the world around them.  Learning the technical ins and outs of drawing is something they are really enjoying, thanks to this review of ARTistic Pursuits curriculum.

more texture

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review


Hewitt Homeschooling has some great products for homeschool families. We are reviewing My First Reports: Bugs and Worms by Hewitt Homeschooling, and we are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.  If you are in the process of putting your curriculum choices together, I would encourage you to add products from Hewitt Homeschooling to the list.

pic of homeschool help


My First Reports

One unique product Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a curriculum supplement called My First Reports.  My first reports uses a step by step approach to help elementary age children learn about a subject they are interested in and write a report about it.

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Critical Thinking

There are several My First Reports to choose from and they are geared for different ages, but all are flexible and can be used for grades 1 – 8 depending on the skill level of your student.

My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Me
My First Report: Famous People
My First Report: Wild Animals / Large Mammals
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Pets/Farm Animals
My First Report: Bugs and Worms
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians
My First Report: Plants
My First Report: Solar System
My First Report: Marine Life
My First Report: Olympics
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Sports
My First Report: My State
My First Report: Eastern United States
My First Report: Western United States
My First Report: Middle United States
My First Report: Southern United States
My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition
My First Report: Focus On The World

You can purchase My First Reports individually for $8.95 , or buy 14 titles as a bundle for $69.95 and save nearly 40% off retail.


Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

We chose My First Reports: Bugs and Worms for this review.  It is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades or older students in 5th-8th grades too.  My First Reports: Bugs and Worms contains 52 pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a unit study.

When we received the packet from Hewitt Homeschooling, I placed the pages into a binder.   The pages come already hole punched so you can put it into a three ring binder for convenience, or into your students completed notebook if you desire.  I am a unit study “collector”, or perhaps a unit study nerd might describe me better.   I guess and I love being able to insert them into a binder and keep them for future use.  If someday I pass along our schoolroom to my own grown kids, or to another family, hopefully all the unit studies we have acquired or created over the years will be easy to just grab and go because they are arranged neatly in their own binders.  You could fill a whole book shelf with them.  Ooohhh Awwhhhh.  Yep, I am a unit study nerd!


We were very excited about this curriculum.  This package covers information about 12 different bugs and worms:

Butterflies / Moths




Unit Study Approach

This set is designed to used for 12 weeks, in a unit study method, covering one bug or worm and corresponding worksheets and suggested activities per week.  Being a unit study, many different ages of kids can enjoy it, and it is cross curricular for many different subjects and covers:

Social Studies
Suggested Field Trips

DSC01754 (Picture my son took of hundreds of new born baby spiders emerging from their nest on a tiger lily).

During the process of learning about a bug or worm you will also do many activities mentioned in the accompanying unit study.  For example, various activities to choose from might include:  geography you will take a map of your state or a region and list bugs found there.  Younger students might cut out pictures and paste them on the map and older students would likely create a map and write a list of various insects identifying  them and their locations or to add in an art aspect, they might sketch them too.  In the bible they would learn about insects mentioned in various verses.  For reading and literature they would read various books, magazines, news articles, and poems about bugs.   For Language you would learn insect vocabulary words and spelling of each insect, as well as answer the report questions on the worksheets. You might create word puzzles and give an oral report too.  For Math, you put the insects in order based on a category such as length or color or weight ect.  Perhaps you could make a graph for comparisons.  You might calculate speeds and distance traveled or the amount of food they eat.  For Science you will make comparison graphs for body characteristics, learn about habitats and how to classify, catch-observe-release different insects when you are studying each one, etc.  One suggestion is to build a wormery when you study the worms section.  For art and science you might make a kite and then for P.E. you would go outside and fly it.  Also for P.E. you would take a hike through your neighborhood or a park to look for insects and study where they are found, what they sound like, etc.  For music you might study and recreate the sound of various insects, sing songs about insects and songs about creation including songs and praises to God.  Art has so many suggestions like making a spider web, visiting an art museum, making collages or mosaics, sculptures, and various crafts.  Field tips ideas include hikes or nature walks in various locations like parks, nature preserves, zoos, museums, the insect section of the library, a honey farm, or other farms where insects are used in some way, nature store, etc.


While learning about each “critter”, my 3rd grader completed a worksheet for each bug we learned about.  The worksheet includes a picture of the bug, its class and scientific order, vocabulary words, and several questions to research further.   He is encouraged to write complete sentences when answering the questions.  When the week of learning about the insect is complete, and he has answered all the questions, he can transfer that information into a finished report by using his answers to help create paragraphs for a report about the insect he is writing about.


I have always loved the hands on aspect of Field Trips.  My kids love the adventure and learning outside the classroom / house.  We took a field trip two weeks ago to the Creation Museum to learn more about the history of insects and see various species in their collections.








This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work it into their learning adventures this school year.  My First Reports would also be a great adventure for summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.

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Wordsmith Apprentice

We have been having so much fun reviewing great curriculums for this school year and Timberdoodle has sent us a wonderful writing curriculum to share with you today called Wordsmith Apprentice.  

Wordsmith Apprentice is a writing workbook that is fun and engaging for students ages 9-12.  It is produced by Write Shop, a publishing company with great writing curriculums for kids of all ages.  I wrote a previous review about the Write Shop
 Primary  for younger students, and this next in the series of Write Shop products does not dissapoint!

Wordsmith Apprentice is a spiral bound student workbook and has 120 pages, including an answer key at the back.  It retails for $16.00 and is on sale at Timberdoodle for $14.50  

Wordsmith Apprentice encourages students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in the tools of writing: words, sentences, and paragraphs.  It encourages the students creativity in writing too.  The workbook is basically divided into three sections: 


  • Section one covers nouns, verbs, and basic sentence structure. 

  • Section two covers modifiers, and complete sentences.

  • Section three covers organizing and reporting.


My sons, ages 9 and 12, are working through these fun workbooks.  Would you like to take a sneak peak at what have they been learning?

In this workbook, the student becomes a newspaper editor and goes through lots of simulated life situations in the process.  They write their way through the journey.   For example, before becoming a newspaper editor, they fill out a job application.  That’s right!  (or That’s WRITE!) They actually filled out an entire job application for the position they are applying for in the newspaper!  

What Genius! My boys were hooked right from the start.  To play out a scenario that appeals to boys is a successful approach to get them interested in writing.  They do lots of tasks through out the workbook that break down the process in small fun assignments instead of a big overwhelming task.  Dispersed throughout the workbook are comics which also enhances the attractiveness of this workbook for this age group.  This workbook is totally fun and hands on all the way through.  


My oldest son cracks up every time he opens the workbook.  It is full of humor and he “gets it”.  He is rather humorous himself.  The other day he told me he was a “Super Journalist” in disguise, “just like Superman”.  He must hide his true identity while working as a Wordsmith Apprentice so his “nemesis doesn’t find out.”  He loves the Lois and Clark New Adventures of Superman series. 


We are half way through our Wordsmith Apprentice workbooks.  This has been an honest to goodness terrific addition to our homeschool curriculum for my 4th grader and 6th grader.  Both boys do not like to write!  But they are eagerly getting out their workbooks to complete the next assignment three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). 

My 12 year old son loves to draw, and enjoys writing comics.  He will write out phrases in comic style to pictures he draws, but he does not like to write stories, letters, or spelling words.  I keep hoping it will grow on him and he will pick up a love for writing.

My 9 year old son will write out answers to questions, but he does not like to sit and write stories either.  He would much rather build a project.  He enjoys coloring and painting.  But writing is not his favorite subject.

Whether you love writing, or hate writing, it is something “we all have to do” from time to time.  This is what I tell my kids.  I find it challenging to encourage both of my sons to write. And they are the oldest two, I still have four more kids right behind them to encourage in their writing skills too.  I am glad a product like this came along to help breath life into our writing, and take some of the pressure off as I find it exhausting at times trying to accomplish the writing aspect of our homeschool learning.

Through activities in Wordsmith Apprentice, they are becoming a newspaper editor.  

First they took a “tour” of the newspaper.  They learned a little about different areas of the paper that editors work.  Then they completed a job application and requested 3 editorial jobs at the paper they are most interested in.   The 6th grader was most interested in comics, world news, and travel.  The 4th grader was the most interested in being an Editor for local news, movie reviews, and sports.

Next they learned to identify proper nouns and common nouns to describe things in everyday life.  They learned to go from writing simple descriptions with nouns to more specific nouns.  For example describing a picture, a portrait of a woman, a portrait, and a Mona Lisa.   By learning to change the noun from common to specific they can convey a better description to their reading audience.

Next they learned to write classified ads.  They were operating on a limited advertising budget and had to come up with three advertisements under 20 words.

One of the ads by the 6th grader “Pirate Catering Service,  If You Don’t Like The Service, You Can Walk The Plank! Call 828-555-1212”   Hey this mama was proud!  He is writing, and laughing, and enjoying his assignments!

The next assignment was writing poetry, cinquain-type.  Through a series of four poem exercises and two challenge exercises they learned to write a poem about any subject. 

Then they learned about verbs: action, helping, linkng, etc.  The verbs took them through 4 or 5 pages of fun exercises as they learned to use them appropriately in their job as a Newspaper Editor.

Next they learned to write sentences and use different kinds of sentences to convey different kinds of meanings and emotions.

Next they learned about adjectives, adverbs, and modifiers.  They learned to write an editorial, a cross word puzzle, a news story, and a descriptive story about weather change. 

They are learning to read a real newspaper, work at a pretend newspaper, use a dictionary, and a thesarus.  The oldest has also learned to use the dictionary on my phone too.  They are brainstorming ideas.  They are thinking through sequences.  They are putting it down on paper.  They are WRITING! YEAH!

And we are only ½ of the way through the assignments.  To complete their learning they will go on to write editorials, edit (or modify) them using different nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, paraphrase, use prepositional phrases, and create dynamic advertising. They will become an investigator and investigate the details of a story they will write for their newspaper.

I am thrilled that they are excited to write in this notebook on a regular basis each week.  Somehow, Wordsmith Apprentice has enticed them with comics, humor, role play, and suspense, and they look forward to the next assignment.  

I think this is a great product and I recommend it for homeschool, afterschool, tutoring, and coop writing and acting classes.  I can just imagine teaching this in a coop writing class.  As they learn and write in their notebooks, I would have all the kids act out what they are learning with silly skits along the way.  Perhaps a writing coop class could actually publish a newspaper showing off the work of the students at the end.

If you are in need of homeschool curriculum, then head over to Timberdoodle and take a look.  They understand the needs of homeschool families.  Timberdoodle is an educational supply company and it has a lot of resources for your homeschool needs. You can also request a free curriculum catalog from Timberdoodle.  You can also follow Timberdoodle on Facebook.

You might also want to check out Timberdoodle’s review blog called “Because Mom Said”.  You will find all sorts of helpful information about curriculum, homeschool helps, and product reviews.  This is a terrific FREE resource to help you in your homeschooling journey.

Because Mom Said

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Wordsmith Apprentice in exchange for an honest review.

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What’s In The Bible

Have you heard of What’s In The Bible  DVD’s and Curriculum?   It is a fun and Christ centered way of teaching the bible to kids today.  It was created by the same inspired genius who created Veggie Tales, Phil Visher. 

For the past twelve years, my children have loved Veggie Tales and Larry Boy.  In the early years of having kids, this was about the only thing I let them watch.  Of course I have relaxed a bunch (maybe to much) and they watch a whole bunch of things now days.  But the characters Phil Visher created will forever be a part of my kids childhood.  He has an amazing way of relating principles of scripture in a fun way that kids will understand and enjoy.

I am so excited about a new ministry outreach that Phil Visher has created in the What’s In The Bible?  He has DVDs for families, and church ministry curriculum.  He also has a fun website with games and more to enjoy.

Here is a brief introduction:

My copy of DVD 1 is in the mail, and I can’t wait for it to arrive and to watch it with my kids.  I am looking forward to sharing our What’s In The Bible learning adventure with you too.

You can view the first 5 minutes of DVD 1  IN THE BEGINNING here:

I just wanted you to know that the folks at  What’s In The Bible  are offering a coupon for $5 off right now on Volume 1 when you check out using the code: SAVE5 .   They also offer free shipping on all orders over $15.

The What’s In The Bible videos would be great item to include in your Easter Baskets or give as gifts anytime of the year.  I am looking forward to adding it into our homeschool learning adventures.

Have you or your kids seen What’s In The Bible?
Have you or your kids seen Veggie Tales?
What do you think about these videos?

Please leave a comment below, thank you.

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Curriculum Planning Guest Post

Do you feel overwhelmed with curriculum planning and purchasing for the upcoming school year?

Do you feel like you don’t measure up in your homeschooling, school purchases, scheduling, housekeeping, meal planning, parenting, etc.?

I think many homeschool parents are feeling a little squeeze, trying to get it all done and be ready for the coming school year. 

I don’t know about you, but trying to manage a house full of kids (5) of various ages and with various needs, keep the house running and avoid drowning in a pile of laundry and dishes, locate all the different curriculum for each ones grade level, do the research, pinch the pennies and try to squeeze every last drop out of the budget, squeeze the calendar and the clock, go to this meeting and that meeting, keep up with emails, bills, junk mail, answer the phone, and still spend time being the good helpmate to my husband, and keeping up with my bible reading, prayer time, journaling, etc. not to mention being six months pregnant, has me stressed!  WHEW!!!

A friend in a local homeschool co-op forwarded this story to me, and I laughed so hard I cried.  Her words rang so true.  I was able to take a deep breath, and re-look at things with a fresh perspective.

I contacted the author of the story and asked her to share her timely wisdom with all of you in the hopes it will bless you too. 

Here are some words of wisdom and encouragement from

 Julie at Brave Writer

Beating the Homeschooling Blues
(Instead of Singing Them)

You’ve met her. It’s week eleven of the school year and she’s on week three. She can’t bear to let her kids skip a single Saxon problem. She is swimming in writing manuals from last year’s convention…and she hasn’t found time to start reading them yet.

Art supplies cost too much. Soccer practice conflicts with dinner. Her toddler wrecks the read-aloud time. And the field trip notice on the refrigerator is past the sign up date. Worst of all, she has unsorted laundry on the bed. Woe is she!

And boy is she tired. Exhausted. Hasn’t slept in six years. Hasn’t eaten a full meal in four. Hasn’t had a hair cut in ten. And what’s a manicure, she asks?

Wait, is this you? I know it’s been me at various times along the way.

We all whine and complain from time to time. But when I begin to think, “I could be a much better homeschooling mother if my kids were just in school,” I know I’m in trouble.

What about you? Are you becoming a ‘Joan of Abekka’? ‘Mother Theresa of Calculadders’? Martyrs for the homeschool cause?

Don’t get me wrong. I know you are as committed to your kids as I am to mine. I want those exquisite beings to fulfill their callings, to discover their destinies, to…to…to pass the infernal year-end exams so I don’t feel like a total failure! (Sometimes that’s truer, isn’t it?)

What I need, what our mythic mom needs and what I bet you need, is a fresh perspective and a healthy dose of practical change. Let’s go!

Do Something Today

Do one thing right now.

Sort through the eternal mail pile. Clean out the fridge. Order the new math book. Pray. Jog. Read to your toddler. Look at an art print. Cut your hair. Plan one day of school in advance. Shop for the ingredients to the next science experiment. Just one.

Don’t plan to do it. Don’t call your best friend about it. Don’t wait to consult your hubby. Don’t read a book on the subject.

I wanted saffron yellow walls for my kitchen for months. But which yellow paint? How much should I buy? How would I know if I got the best price in town? What if my husband hated the color? And worst of all, how could I paint my walls yellow with five kids under foot?

Then one day, I had had it. I marched all of us into Home Depot, covered my eyes and picked the color card. I got the paint mixed, paid for it and went home. I painted the wall that afternoon while the toddler was awake! (Nuts, I know, but she wasn’t even the one to spill the bright yellow paint all over the apartment rug—ahem—we don’t really need to know who did that, do we?)

Every morning for the next year, I’d come bounding down the stairs and smile first thing. That wall brightened my dreary little apartment immeasurably and it reminded me of the power of follow-through.

Don’t Do Something Else

Don’t call your girlfriend because you’re bored. Don’t leave the house with lunch plates on the table. Don’t flip through the Hanna Andersson catalog for the eighth time (you know you can’t afford those dresses). Don’t sleep in… again. Don’t get online before breakfast and stay there… until noon.

Pick the most annoying or embarrassing habit and stop it today. You don’t have to promise for eternity. Just today. If you pick one to stop per day, you’ll be amazed at how many changes you can make. At least you’ll make a change each day.

I, for one, would pay lots of money for little hand restraints to ‘just say no’ to that mid-morning call to my best friend. When I stay off the phone in the morning, it’s amazing how much better homeschooling goes. (Though the DTs demand some chocolate as compensation.)

Give Up

That’s right—wave the white flag. You will never be like her. Don’t compare yourself to Miss Perfect.

So what if she does the entire lesson plan for Sonlight every day?Who cares if she can maneuver Cuisinaire rods with one hand while stir frying dinner with the other?

Any woman who can make her own bread, write out daily lesson plans, organize all her math manipulatives into marked bins, and get her hair colored every four weeks is to be applauded not envied. After all, her kids are usually geniuses too. Have you seen their Iowa scores?

So give-up. By that calculation, she’s an Olympic athlete; you’re not. But you’re okay with that when we talk about rhythmic gymnastics. You can be okay with that here too.

Here’s the solution: Do what you can and enjoy what you do.The ones who seem to have it all together are actually just happy. They advertise contentment (which in turn makes the rest of us crazed with guilt). Quit comparing and start enjoying your kids. She does. You can too. They’re the reason we all chose to stay home, remember?

Pick Three

It’s a relief to get out of the homeschool Olympics, isn’t it? Don’t wreck these cautiously emerging good feelings by writing a mission statement either. That’s a sure-fire way to end up with a big pile of laundry on your bed next week.

Instead of thinking generally about what isn’t working, start noticing what is. Pick three reasons it is good to be alive and homeschooling. Then go tell someone.

Recite these every time the dishes are stacked too high in the sink.

  • Don’t have to schlep my five kids to school by 8:00 a.m.

  • Reading all those great books in our pajamas.

  • Seeing the firsts up close (first step, first letters, first word read, first expository essay)

  • Poetry teatimes!

  • Giving my daughter time to write stories about her bunny.

  • Listening to my seven-year-old read words that I haven’t taught him.
  • Teacher conferences over candlelight with my husband.

Those are some of my favorites. I’m sure that you can think of more. Just pick three.

Break a Rule

Give yourself a break. Paper plates for lunch. Disposable diapers for a week (how about a month—want to be radical, a whole year!) Listen to old James Taylor tunes. Dance through the living room. Put on a little make-up.

In other words, splurge. By definition, a splurge only happens once in a while. But unlike gluttony or indulgence, there’s no guilt.

Homeschool moms simply carry too many causes at once and feel trapped by their “better than God’s laws” rules. The Judeo-Christian God gave Ten Commandments and ‘couponing’ is not on the list. Get it?

So go to an art museum alone (without the co-op). Read a bookyou want to read. Shut the teacher’s manual and take a nature hike. Nourish your mind, spirit, and body and your homeschool will benefit too.

In the end, we must be mothers who love what we do. When we don’t, we risk the vitality and joy of our children’s schooling experience. Their memories of school will be inextricably bound to us. Who do we want them to remember?

We started in on this weird and wonderful lifestyle for good reasons. Instead of complaining, let’s remind each other of the truly heroic job we are doing—spending twenty-four hours a day with our kids because we love them more than anyone else will.

And be proud of you. I am.

Happy curriculum shopping! I love you guys. You’re doing awesome work.

Call me (513-307-1405), email me, or reach out to us on our public forums if you’ve got questions.

Julie Bogart

Owner, Creator

Here is a little more about Brave Writer and the support Julie offers homeschool families:

Why Brave Writer Works:

The majority of writing curricula focus on teaching writing formats and the structure of writing. They don’t tell you how to ensure that kids access the words within. Those programs rarely address the critical role of the parent in facilitating that process or even understanding how it works.

Brave Writer focuses on establishing writing voice and the writing process in children and teens first, by helping parents know how to foster the right environment for writing risks. We give parents instruction in how to nurture and draw out the writing voices of their children without causing damage (making writing a chore or treating it like a subject to be drummed out for school or causing resentment, tears and writer’s block).

We offer both parents and kids tools that enable them to revise and edit their work with confidence. As kids get older, Brave Writer introduces writing formats (particularly in late junior high/high school) that take advantage of the cultivated writing voice, their evolving rhetorical thinking, as well as their language arts powers. We promote both substance (insight, thought processes, developed vocabulary, mastery of material) and style (enabling kids to discover the variety of writing voices they have inside to meet the demands of any writing assignment).

The core difference between Brave Writer and other programs is that we teach writing much the way professional writers teach writing. Educators tend to start with a format. They deconstruct a kind of writing (like an essay), create an assignment that will reproduce the structure of the model or the form (five paragraphs, has these components, takes up this much paper), and then expect the student to produce writing that matches that set of expectations without necessarily taking into account what the student wants to express. When this kind of mode is used for teaching writing to young children not yet in touch with their writing voices, kids train themselves to think of how to solve the “puzzle” of the assignment (meeting the expectations of the rubric), rather than tapping into their writing voice and really determining what it is they want to say, and how they want to say it.

Professional writing instruction usually starts with a person—what do you have to say? Let’s get it out as best we can, then we can mess with it and see what can be done to mold it into the kind of form that best suits the material. Brave Writer helps kids discover the power and play of language, and boosts their sense of pride in their work because it most often represents content which is meaningful and important to them.

Thank you Julie for being a guest writer for us today!

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Raising Homemakers

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Curriculum Review Roundup

Homeschool Curriculum Review Round Up

I am so excited to tell you about  
The Happy Housewife Homeschool Curriculum
Review Round-up. 

This is a wonderful review of over 60 different curriculums that homeschool moms have tried
out with their kids and are telling you their honest opinions about how they liked the products.

Please stop by The Happy Housewife to see what other real moms are saying.  

Please share.

Letter Of The Week P

Letter Of The Week  “P”

Workboxes, Activity Trays, and just for fun activities. 

Our “Letter Of The Week” this week is “P”
Our color is pink
Our number is 3
Our shape of the week is the heart.


My goal for the week, and for the month really, was to tie in lots of  “P” words and activities to reinforce our learning of the letter “P”, the color pink, the shape of the heart, and the number 3.  

Many of the “P” words we focused on were things we are familiar with in our everyday life, such as “pink”, “picture”, and “pizza”.  It is really important to use words they are familiar with to reinforce the letter.  Then I expanded with words they may not be as familiar with or new words.  Some of the new words for my kids were “peace”, “planet”, “prince”. 

Three of the holidays this month that worked well with “P” were Valentines Day, Black History (civil rights and peace between the cultures), and Presidents Day.  So we were able to do so much more with our letter of the week, and make it more like a letter of the month!

Each of my three younger children ages 2, 3, and 6 participated in these activities on their skill level.  The older two children ages 8 and 10 did related work to the theme (Valentines, Presidents Day, Black History, and more) that correlated nicely with these activities that the younger children were doing.

Listed below are several vocabulary words you can pick from one, or a few, or brainstorm other fun ideas for a theme to give your child more practice with the letter ‘P”.

Our main vocabulary focus from the list was on the words “pink”, “pig”, “pasta”, “peace”, and “pizza”.  

Vocabulary words:

P is for pig
P is for pink
P is for prayer
P is for panda
P is for puppy
P is for puppet
P is for pennies
P is for peace
P is for pail
P is for pattern
P is for Pinkalicious
P is for pokadot
P is for President
P is for Pastor
P is for Papa
P is for planet
P is for pizza
P is for pasta
P is for piano
P is for play
P is for park
P is for purple
P is for pumpkin
P is for practice
P is for peanut butter
P is for picture
P is for pretty
P is for princess
P is for prince
P is for pirate



John 14:27   Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Books we read:

Pinkalicious Pink Around The Rink

The Three Little Pigs

My “P” Book


Pink pig

Pink panda paper bag puppet

Pink Valentines Day Hearts

Letter “P” with pasta


Math, Counting, Numbers, Patterns, Colors, Shapes, Practice,
Separate pink from other colors of manipulatives: legos, cubes, letters, pompoms,
Sort and transfer pompoms.  Read about it
here .
Use a pink magnifying glass to view pink butterflies and pink hearts.
Count up to three.
Count backwards from three.
Count three pennies and place into three compartments
Count three clothes pins and attatch them to a pink pail.  You can read more about this and several other listed activities
here .


Played with the valentines day discovery bin full of pink, white, and red items.  Read about it here.


Thread pink ribbon
Thread pink beads
Make a pink pattern
Say a prayer
Dora coloring page
Pig coloring page
Make a pink (and red and white) Valentine Park mini world with legos. Read about it here .

Role play with pink kitchen items. foods, pink babies, and pink stuffed animals in pink clothes.
Play with pink and purple playdough
Write the letter “P” with playdough, crayons, dots, pasta,
Play at the park


a Science comparing dry pasta and rehydrated pasta.  Read about it here .


TIC TAC TOE TOSS using Pink Bean Bags

Scavaenger Hunt: PINK

Scavanger Hunt: Starts with the letter “P”



Tap out notes on the piano

Recipes with Kids In The Kitchen

Pepperoni Pizza

Pink popcorn snack mix
Pink and purple smoothies
Pink lemonade
Pink punch
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Pasta with cheese

Pears cut up
Pumpkin Bars (will get a link to this posted soon)


Pink and purple are my three year old daughter’s favorite colors.  In addition to all the fun activities, we also looked in her closet and found all her clothes that were pink and purple or pokadots (shirts, pants, dress, underwear, socks, shoes).  She practiced trying them on, folding, and lining them up.  She has the colors pink and purple memorized!!!

My daughter has asked me to make her a “purple pizza”.   I am trying to figure out how to accomplish this. 

I considered making a purple onion pizza, but none of the kids like onions.

I thought about a plain or a purple sugar cookie crust, layered with blueberry, or blueberry-blackberry smooshed cream cheese frosting, and topped with blue berries and purple grapes.  Possibly could use some Pomegranate Blueberry juice for color and flavor in the crust, or sauce (frosting) too.  But I am not sure what combinations will taste good.  Guess I will need to try out a small one and see if it works.   

If you have any ideas for making a purple pizza, or any activities, crafts, recipes you use teach the letter P, please feel free to leave us a comment.   Thanks in advance.

This post will be linked up with

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ABC and 123
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Play Academy

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Cultures Around The World Puzzle

                Activity From Our Culture Unit Study

After looking high and low for toddler, preschool, and lower elementary props and printouts for teaching about cultures to my children this school year, I finally gave up on some pursuits and decided to make several of them myself.

I created a Cultures Around The World Puzzle.  This is a visual aid to help the children see people and places of the world.  In this puzzle, they can see how differently people might look,  and how they are dressed, and see various places on different continents.


If you have a globe handy, set it out for the children to see.  Let them turn it and talk to them about a place you know just a little about, such as spices and rice from India, or the great wall of China.  Just begin with some simple facts to get this started.   

You can make the puzzle we made, or make your own.  One way to make your own is to use a piece of construction paper.  Cut out various pictures from geography magazines and let the children glue them on the paper.  Then cut out puzzle shapes or just cut out strips for the children to put back together.

After you have your puzzle ready to go, take some time to play with the puzzle, noticing the different clothing styles and continents of the people.  Point out how the puzzle is a simple picture of the globe they looked at earlier.  Discuss these different things with the children.

This activity is appropriate for young children, up through early elementary.  Younger children will need assistance, but this is good to do together and model for them how to put the pieces together.  This activity could also be used with children with disabilities, and with an ESL program.

If you would like to make this puzzle with your kids, here is the link

Cultures Around The World Puzzle 

If you would like to share how you used this puzzle with others, please link your blog back to this article.  I am glad for you to benefit from it.  Please do not sell it, or distribute it in anyway.  It is for your personal use only.  Thank you. 


Print the puzzle on heavy cardstock, or thin cardboard.  Laminate the pieces if you want them to last a long time.  Older children may be able to cut out the puzzle, but younger children will need the adult to do this for them.  Young children may also do better if you make this puzzle chunky, like putting it on carboard.  Another idea is to cut the picture into strips, or triangles and rectangles, for the younger children to reassemble.

I wish I had a puzzle machine, so the cutting process would be a whole lot simpler.  But this is only nine pieces, and it is still do-able by hand.

After playing with the puzzle, take some time to review pictures, available on the internet, about people around the world. 

(I have made some additional printables for games to go along with this, and hope to have them ready for you to use soon.  I realized after printing them myself, there were some changes I could make to improve them, so it will be something I will work on as I find time.)

I have posted some links to pictures from the internet from people around the world below.  While viewing different pictures, allow the children to ask questions about what they see.  Ask them about colors of clothing, or food, or what the people are doing.  Ask about any buildings, environment (dessert vs farmland, farmland vs. fishing in oceans or lakes, etc.), or landmarks they see.  These details will help the children gain more information about how the people in the pictures might live.

There are thousands of pictures available.  I selected a few that drew my interest, however feel free to be adventurous and look further than what I have shared here.  I really like the fact these pictures have a google map of the earth and you can really get a sense of location of where people live in this activity.  You could use this activity more independently with older children and highschool students to enhance geography
and social studies.  The main website is
Here are some specific pictures I found interesting.  You can click on the picture after it comes up for a closer, enlarged view.  You can also click on the google earth map after the picture comes up, and see where in the world this is located, and by zooming out just a little you can see the topography of the land, mountains, rivers, ocean, and more.  SOOOOOO  COOOOOOL !!!!

PICTURES from Panoramio:
Australia Sydney 
people riding camels in Moraco
 houses on a street in Italy
 houses in Greenland
kitaa Greenland  a school building and children are playing outside.
houses in Indonesia
a street in China, look at all the bicycles and look at how the roofs look different than in the US.  Explain how in China many adults ride bicyles to work and to the store/market.  Many of the grocery stores, as in several countries, are outside open markets.
Street in China
China, rice paddies on the sides of mountains.  Ask the children if this would be hard work to plant and harvest the rice
housing and rice paddies in China
Mongolia, ask the children how they might live differently, if they lived where this photo was taken.
Crowded Narrow Street near a market in India
Indian Fisherman
Indian Village  You can see someone carrying a heavy load on their back and children playing near some goats.
Nepal Village
Nepal  Public Bath
Nepal Public Street people selling lots of things
children in bangledesh
Jordan Desert
Israel Market
Street in Israel

After looking over the pictures, allow the children to play with the puzzle again, and listen for new observations they make about how the people might live.  You should see your younger children begin to understand that people all over the world have similarities and differences from the culture or ethnic background of your children.  You should also see improvement in their puzzle skills as they practice putting the matching pieces together.  You should see improvement in your older children’s comprehension of specific peoples from various places.

We also created a matching envelope to store our puzzle pieces in.  The envelope is 5″ x 8″ regular card size.  I used a leftover envelope from a box of Christmas cards. This is very handy if you plan to lapbook or notebook your cultural unit study.  If you don’t want an envelope, a ziploc bag, pencil case, or recycled container will work fine.

My daughter, who is three, enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces into the envelope as much as playing with the puzzle.  Good for eye hand coordination practice too.

Other ways to use this puzzle with different age students:

*Build a multicultural mobile with it.  
     Have the children color the back side of each puzzle piece with a different color.
     Punch a hole in one end of each puzzle piece.  Thread string or yarn through the
     hole and tie the other end to holes in a reused lid or onto a plastic hanger or a
     stick.  You will need nine pieces of string of different lengths for the pieces and 
     one additional one for the top of the mobile.  Hang it up for the children to enjoy.

*Glue the pieces onto construction paper, poster board, or a file folder to display the
   finished puzzle.

*Have the younger children count the pieces, one through nine, as they help 
    put the puzzle together.

*Have the younger children identify the colors on the puzzle.

*Have the older children identify what continent or country the people represent as you
     put the puzzle together.

*Put velcro tabs on the back of the pieces and let the chirdren put them onto a felt 
    board.  This is a very good activity to practice dexterity and coordination for children
    who need more practice.

We used this activity as part of our Culture Unit Study.  It would also go well with other geography studies, history studies, ethnicity and multicultural studies as well.  In upcoming months we plan to do the geography study Expedition Earth from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and World Cultures from Hands Of A Child and we will pull out this activity again for those.

If you would like to read more about our Culture Unit Study we have been working on through out this school year, please see these posts (and there is more posts to come as I go back through our pictures and find time to get them written, so che
ck back):

International Food and Cultural Opportunities

Geography and Food Diversity

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Show and Tell Unit Study Link Up

Don’t for get to LINK UP your unit studies and lapbooks in our Show and Tell Showcase

This is a year long showcase of unit studies you are doing or have done in the past with your kiddo’s, or ones you find interesting and plan to do.  Whatever it takes to fill up this showcase with lots of resources.

All you need to do is scroll down the page, leave a link up to your post for us to go to your site and see what you are doing.  If you don’t have a blog, don’t worry, just leave us a comment below.  If you have pictures you want to share and don’t have  a blog, let me know and we can put a guest post on here featuring your homeschool and project you did.

Come on and join in the fun.  Go to the bottom to link up.

Meanwhile, I found this unit study blog hop for Download N Go for the  Winter unit study, and wanted to post it here so everyone could visit these different blogs and see what great learning adventures are taking place with the Winter DNG product.  These are one week unit studies and are a great way to introduce your family to a variety of subjects.  The DNG has a one year plan, a new unit for each week of the year at a huge discount, or you can buy bundles, or buy them one at a time.  Amanda Bennett runs great sales on all these products each week.  Here is a link up for the Winter DNG unit study, this link up is now closed, but you can still visit all the blogs who participated.

So now that you are warmed up from visiting those blogs,
come join our
Unit Study Show and Tell.

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