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.
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:
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.
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.
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 theMonthly 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
Video Lesson (online)
Supply List (online and PDF)
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.
18 different media are covered in the lessons and you can choose work with specific media rather than work on a specific level:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
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
ISBN # 978-0-8254-4430-2
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
ISBN # 978-0-8254-4431-9
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!
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!
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….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!
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.
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 CStepping Stones” level for kids ages 7-10, she has also written a “Circle CBeginnings” level for kids ages 6-9 , “Circle C Adventures” level for kids ages 9-13, “Circle CMilestones” 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:
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.
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.
Be sure to check out the various Social Media links for all the latest news and product updates:
We are reading through Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! We were sent this wonderful book for review from the By the Way Book Series and it has given my kids and I a great way to start a discussion about the animals and their habitat in this wonderful mountain range of the USA.
This story is about two siblings: a brother named Alex, and his sister named Lexi, who went to spend three days and nights with their Uncle Ted who is a forest ranger in the Smoky Mountains. They decide to hike up the mountain and camp overnight in the wilderness.
It is spring time, and flowers are starting to bloom. As they travel along the hiking trails, they learn about lots of the wildlife that live there. They learn about God too and how he created this environment for the wildlife and people to live and flourish in.
Some of the animals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other fascinating facts kids learn about in this book are:
White tailed deer
Northern short tailed shrew
Snow birds or dark eyed Junco
Mountains and different topography forms: waterfalls, bald,
Forests and different kinds of trees
Different kinds of flowers and plants
Different kinds of mushrooms and fungi
Fireflies and insects
Some other things my kids learned about in this book:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian mountain trail, specific landmarks on the trail like Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, Cherokee Indians, pioneers, Civil War, specific mountains that were named for historic events or famous people and also for ancient legends by the Cherokee Indians, and a mountain musical instrument called a dulcimer.
Video of a dulcimer playing “I’ll Fly Away”.
Another Video of an 1800’s replica of a dulcimer that was a bit more primitive than the ones we usually see played today.
There is also a mini-lesson on Geo Caching (finding clues and a location of “hidden treasure” in a weather proof/ waterproof box for you to find using GPS coordinates). This is a popular hobby but one we have not participated in before. We got out our GPS map on the phone, and also a compass, and a compass/whistle that someone would use on their journey during this activity. We might like to put together a Geo Caching activity in our local area soon.
Reading this book encouraged us to take a closer look at the wildlife around us and the habitat they live in. We used to live in the Appalachian mountains in the Blue Ridge region. We often went for a drive and visited the Smoky Mountain region that was only a few hours from where we lived. But now we live about 2 hours down the mountain and foothills from where we used to live. Now we live at a lower elevation in a forest covered area filled with pine trees, oak trees, maple trees and other hardwoods. We live next to a small pond, lots of woods with several local streams, and a large lake nearby too. So we have a wide variety of wildlife here and some we have in common with the mountain region too. We have seen woodpeckers, hawks, crows, lizards, snapping turtles, frogs, snakes, wild turkeys, fox, coyote, red cardinals, robins, deer, a raccoon, an opossum, worms, red fire ants, termites, beetles, and more. I will post a story about this soon, but here are a few pictures we have taken of the wildlife in our yard and nearby.
This snapping turtle crawled up to the fence in our yard and was trying to enter the gate when we spotted him.
In the book Smoky Mountains Here We Come, there are many real life photos of animals and historical people and places. My favorite photo is a an old time Mill House with a water wheel. We would often seen wonderful old barns and mill houses on our trips to see the mountains. I would love to hang that picture on the wall.
The illustrations on every page in this book are wonderful and kept my kids interested all the way through. This book is like a regional American geography, history, science, and bible study adventure all wrapped up in one.
This book presents God’s amazing creation in the treasure of the Smoky Mountains from a biblical worldview. Along the way, kids are reminded often of God’s handiwork and his amazing creation.
We are stewards of this land. We can either be good stewards and care for it, or we can be reckless and neglectful stewards, the choice is ours. In his word, God instructs man to be good stewards of the land, animals, and resources. Jesus also shared several parables about good shepherds, wise servants, faithful caretakers. It is clear that God wants us to understand the He created all of this and he wants us to take care of it.
The book begins with the verse from Psalm 32:8 inside the front cover:
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou should go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
The book ends with the verse from Psalm 97:6 inside the back cover:
“The heavens declare his righteousness…and all the people see his glory.
The book is loaded with scriptures to connect us to our Heavenly Father and remind kids and parents about our loving creator who made this wonderful bounty of life in so much variety and beauty.
Additional Resources Available
This book series is perfect for using as home school curriculum, family devotions, Sunday schools, clubs, and encouraging extra reading for kids too. You can use the book as a stand alone resource, or you can add to the learning by using maps, puzzles, games, field trips to the region of the country the book discusses or to visit a zoo to see the animals discussed, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos online about things discussed in the book etc. and turn this into an amazing learning journey filled with exploration.
Besides the books, there are additional resources available to further the learning with this wonderful book including: flash cards, activity guides, stuffed animals, and poster packs.
For an additional $2.50 you can purchase the flash cards.
The flash cards are full color and feature eight of the many different creatures we studied in the book. On the front of the cards is full color real life photo to clearly identify each creature. Also listed on the front is an accompanying bible verse that reminds you about God and the beauty he has created. On the back of each card is a long description of the habitat it lives in and it’s behavior characteristics.
For an additional $2.50 you can buy the “Keep On The Path” “Exploring the Smoky Mountains Study Guide” to further the learning.
After reading through the book, I was so impressed to want to learn more that I purchased the activity guides and flash cards for all six of my kids. $2.50 is much cheaper than I can print these myself. It is a really good buy. We are currently waiting for the cards and guides to arrive as I write this review.
There are also poster packs and stuffed animals available on the website that go along with the books too. I didn’t not purchase these but they would be great to use for a classroom where you need larger visual aids and reminders for the classroom. You could use this as part of a vacation bible school summer program too and use the posters to decorate walls, tables, or stations.
I plan to expand our learning we began with this book. My goal is to turn this book learning into a unit study and lapbook this spring. We will use the activity guide pages and flash cards plus the additional ideas I mentioned earlier (maps, puzzles, games, field trips (we live about 4 hours from the Smoky Mountains in TN and 2 hours from the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC also part of the Appalachian trail), visit a zoo, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos, etc) as we re-read the book again.
We will create a colorful lapbook to go along with the unit study and record what the kids have learned. Stay tuned for a follow up story to this review to see what the kids learned and how this adventure turned out. For now, while we wait for those resources to arrive, I found a few coloring pages online about woodland animals (such as the black bear, otter, bobcat, deer,) and a butterfly for the younger children to color while we read through the book. We really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to learn even more.
Besides the additional resources for Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come, I also ordered additional flashcards for the other books in the series too. Some of the animals and insects in other regions are also found in the region we are currently studying and also these cards are so nice that I would like for my kids to have the flash cards from all the regions as a learning resource. They are high gloss full color heavy duty cards loaded with lots of information about creatures from the different regions all over America. These inexpensive cards can be used for science and geography and crossovers with other subjects and are a great resource to have on hand.
By The Way Series
Check out all these great books from By the Way Book Series. We want to read more of them as soon as we can. This is a wonderful way to teach kids about all these amazing animals and creatures and geography that God has created and some history of the people in various regions around the USA.
Be sure to read more about the wonderful author, Joy Budensiek and her desire she expressed for writing these books to help kids and their parents talk about God and draw closer to him. These books are part of a movement to turn our nation and our children back to God. You can read more about “Renewanation” mission here.
Check out By the Way Book Series on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.
Kids love to go on trips. Why not take the kids on “a trip back in time”? With this unit study your kids can pretend to take a journey, pack their bags and board a “time machine” right in your home to travel back in history to the Middle Ages. On this trip, you won’t even have to hear the usual “are we there yet?” This unit study journey is so much fun!
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages
Format: CD or Download (Mac & PC Compatible)
Retail $33.95 Download
Retail $34.95 CD
Suggested grades: 3-8
25 Lessons, Go at your own pace.
Tons of Printables For Parent / Teacher and Students
50 Projects and Activities
Arts, Crafts, Recipes
7 Dramatized Audio Tours
Lessons and Printables
The CD includes directions and masters for over 50 projects and activities. There is a HUGE menu of files. Also included are Travel Tips, teacher keys, Additional Resources (to enhance the learning), and a Quick-Stop Itinerary. Photos of completed projects, and a three-page travel planner to help the teacher plan the the schedule with upcoming topics and projects at a glance.
Dramatized Audio Tours
Also included with this study are 7 Dramatized Audio Tours. These audio dramas are fun to listen to and take you right to the action! What a great way to get your kids right in to the daily life of the past by listening to and take this journey with the “Knight in Shining Armor Tours”. The tour guide is Agatha and the coach driver is Brian and they will take the kids on various errands and excursions.
Your kids will spend time at a town Festival Day, visit a monastery where they will hear the sounds of Gregorian Chant, or visit the Battlefield of Hastings, and they might catch a glimpse of Duke William of Normandy! Wow!
There is so much to do on this journey. It is more than just learning HISTORY! This trip is filled adventure, exciting events, fun people to learn about, and lots of facts about life from the past. Some of the topics in this unit study include:
Daily Medieval Life
Class Structure in Society
Towns & Guilds
Science & Invention
and a whole lot more!
Projects & Writing & Arts & Crafts & Life Skills
A “Scrapbook of Sights” for storing notebook projects
Creative Writing projects for Lapbook
Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
A Newspaper “The Medieval Times”
A “Snapshot Moments in History” Scrapbook Timeline
“Postcards from Famous Folks”
Coat of Arms
Cooking & Recipes
A “Dining Out Guide”
2 Board Games
What We Thought
One of the things we like most about homeschooling is the freedom to choose curriculum that interests us. The curriculum style that interests us the most is unit studies. It is our favorite method for learning. Unit studies are our first choice because they are flexible, adaptable, and there is such a huge variety of projects and resources that make learning any and every subject fascinating.
The first step for me after we received our product download was printing the information. This unit study comes with a huge amount of printables for the kids as well as instructions for activities and lessons. The mom / teacher definitely needs to be organized and print the lessons out and put them in some sort of a binder or file so you can keep track of the journey and get the supplies and printables ready for the adventure. Besides mom’s binder, a computer, printer, and lots of paper, each kid also need a binder and a couple of file folders, glue, colored pencils and crayons, scissors, etc.
Our trip back in time to the Middle Ages includes 25 “stops” (1 +/- hour lessons) at specific locations where my kids learn what life was like during this time in History. We went at our own pace and did 2 lessons a week. We skipped around a bit in the lessons and are half way through at the time of writing this review. This study should take us about 14+ weeks to complete at this pace, but I plan to stretch it out longer with some additional activities.
Here is a list of a few of the STOPS and PROJECTS we have made so far:
Stop 1: Laying the foundation / packing for the trip.
Create a “Luggage” Folder and Passport.
The next step is to help the kids make a luggage or a travel suitcase, and a passport for the journey. They will re-use these items in future Project Passport studies you do. The suitcase helps keep all their papers and projects organized on their trip so they don’t get lost. Kids can use the completed printables they stored in their suitcase to create a Lapbook at the end of the journey that showcases what they have learned. Another step to prep was to print out the history timeline, news paper, and scrapbook of sights so we were ready to add in tidbits along the journey.
The “prep” work and the first “stop” (lesson) was the most challenging for me as I learned to print out everything and make the “storage” or “foundation” projects of the unit study. After that, it was easy to look at the organized lesson plans for the day and follow the plan. The rest of the lessons take about an hour or less to complete. All of the lessons and project instructions, crafts, and recipes are provided in the unit study and are easy for the kids to follow.
Stop 4: Everyday Life – Family and Class Structure
Firewood & Fence & Farming:
While learning about Class Structure and the Feudal System of land tenants (Serfs and Peasants) working the land for the land owners (Lords), we found ourselves wanting to know more about the daily life of the Serfs and Peasants who raised food. We have a long way to go yet, but a few of things we focused on so far was “fuel” to cook and heat with, tools, and fencing to hold animals in a designated area.
A two worksheets are provided as well as an audio tour for this section. Since we like homesteading and farming, we decided to add more hands on projects learning about how people farmed / homesteaded during the Middle Ages to our study. We will be adding in more learning in this section in the future. We plan to learn how to build a replica of a dwelling, how to lash boards together, how they started fire with friction, fishing with nets, butchering, growing harvesting storing and grinding grain, growing a vegetable and herb garden, etc. These are skills that will be invaluable to these kids in the years ahead and help them connect their learning about the lives of people who lived in the past. Tweaking a lesson here or there is the great flexibility that we love about unit studies.
Since we have been using this study during the months of January and February we focused on homesteading projects from the Middle Ages that were done this time of year. These projects fit right in perfect timing to our study.
Chopping and gathering firewood and building and repairing fence was a common practice in January and February for the Serfs and Peasants.
January and February was also spent repairing hunting nets and repairing and building traps, sharpening tools, making utensils etc. So we worked with the kids on learning how to sharpen a pocket knife and we also took the kids to the lake and they made their own small bait traps and worked on their fishing poles when they got snagged and lost their lines.
While researching how the Serfs and Peasants farmed the land, we learned that the most common form of fence used in small scale farming in the Middle Ages was called a “hurdle”. It is built of a “waddle” or woven fence panel made of upright posts and willow (or other flexible wood or vines available) woven in between the posts. The next kind of fence used the most was hedges and stone fences or walls were also common if enough stone was available. All of these fences were used to keep livestock in a boundary, either a small pen or a small field that was on crop rotation with livestock. The fence or hedge held livestock penned in, or it held them out of gardens, graveyards, and orchards.
We could of made a small replica of the waddle fence panels and may still do this, but one of my sons likes to “build big”. Since he did not have the flexible material on hand to weave in and out of his posts he tried another method to make a simple fence panel about 5 feet long made of upright posts.
Of course 5 feet of fence isn’t enough to keep animals in, so this panel would have been combined with several more panel sections to create an actual fence. These paneled fences would have been joined together to create pens for milk cows, ox, chickens, pigs, and sheep. He used a small ax to make the panel and it was very obvious to the kids that just creating one panel was a lot of work. Folks who farmed or homesteaded in the middle ages had to work very hard to do even simple tasks.
Stop 5: Everyday Life – Clothing and Food
When making the recipes, you can cook these in your modern kitchen, fire place, or outdoors. We did some of both. We wanted to try cooking over an open flame/hot coals for a more realistic experience. It is a lot harder to cook outside, build a fire, prep and cook the meal, bake bread, etc than it is to make this in today’s modern kitchen. It was fun to try it out both ways.
Pictures of our creating our Herb Bread:
This bread was so delicious! Some of the kids ate it plain, some ate it with butter, and some ate it with strawberry jam. My husband loved it too!
Everyone wanted second and third servings of this delicious bread. The crust and texture of the bread came out amazing!
My son also wanted to try topping his slice of bread with honey. Every way they tried it, they enjoyed it.
For the stew, we changed the recipe to fit what we had on hand. That is how the people in the Middle Ages did it too. If they had an ingredient they used it, if not they substituted. This is a good exercise in helping people to be flexible, content, and make do with what you have on hand. Here is a picture of what the kids put into their stew.
He ate several slices with butter and then wanted to try it out with strawberry jam.
Outdoor cooking with Herb Bread:
This was another “extra” we added into our hands on learning. Folks cooked over a fireplace in the Middle Ages. We decided to make our “Middle Ages fireplace” kitchen in the back yard with some old bricks laying around and cook a few meals listed in the “Dining Out Guide”.
We made the fire place big enough to accommodate two fires or two cooking areas. Two of the boys made their fires to the best of their ability to see who could heat up their bricks and get their fire just right for cooking first. These two are competitive.
It was well after dark before we could get the fires to die down enough to cook on.
The kids learned it takes a long time to build a hot fire, heat their bricks, then let the fire die down to hot coals to bake bread.
We did not have a dutch oven pot or any “Medieval pots” to cook the bread in so we improvised with foil and shaped the foil like a pot and a lid. The kids used the same herb bread recipe we had made in the house, and this time they put it in the foil pot we made and placed it on bricks we put in the hot coals to bake.
This is the finished bread from the outdoor fire. It tasted delicious, though it looks misshapen or funny! With more practice, they will be able to shape it better.
We sliced it up and lathered it with butter and some of the kids had strawberry jam with it and it was delicious! The outdoor fireplace bread tasted just as good as the bread we had baked in the house in our modern stove oven.
We would like to try to create some pots from the middle ages to cook food in again. We might make some clay pots and try firing them in the fire in the future.
This was a common food eaten by peasants and surfs during the Middle Ages. This is also a common breakfast food my kids are familiar with. We have it once or twice a week. It is very nutritious!
Stop 6: Everyday Life : Community
Field Trip Castle:
One of the fun activities in this lesson is to build a replica of a castle. Included are directions to build a castle with sugar cubes. But my kids wanted to build one that will last and they can actually play with when they are through building it, so we are budgeting out money to buy a hobby brick kit to build one. We also have a wooden castle the kids have played with for years and the kids often build small castles with Legos. We pulled out our pictures from a while back when we actually took a field trip to see a real castle. The kids remember this well and talked about it as they learned about castles in this unit study.
Stop 7: Everyday Life – Crime, Punishement, Entertainment
Jousting and Fox and Goose Game
This section was really interesting to the kids because one of the suggestions is to play indoor and outdoor games: checkers, chess, horseshoes, marbles, dice, board games, capture the flag, tag, games with balls, and physical training activities to become a knight, etc. They also learned about a competitive game knights and warriors played to prove themselves in a challenge called Jousting.
Stop 13: Medicine and Disease
“Medicinal” herb salt.
Herbs and super foods were “medicine” in ancient times. Folks who knew how to use strong herbs and oils and salt survived some of the darkest diseases in history. Nowadays, petrochemicals are used to make synthetic medicines.
Though it is sad how many people died of the plague during the Middle Ages, learning how to make your own herbal remedy was an interesting lesson to explore. This is a subject we are very interested in. We have spent some time in the past learning about herbs used for healing. We have made elderberry extract, tinctures, various kinds of honey, teas, and several herbal remedies over the years. This study gave simple instructions for creating an Herb Salt that is just salt and dried herb(s) of your choice that can be used both in cooking and health care. We made an herbal remedy with oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, and sea salt for this project. Whenever one is feeling down, you can stir a teaspoon of this into hot water and drink it to restore minerals and act as an antibiotic anti fungal. You can add a touch of raw honey and lemon juice for even more benefits. We also rub the herb salt mixture into meat before cooking, or use it to season broth or other foods or put some in your bath water too.
We would like to create an actual “Herbal Apothecary” someday. We are in the process of learning how to do this. We have a good start with herbs, salts, essential oils, and dried super foods that ancient people in history knew how to use to support the body.
Stop 22: Battles, Wars, Conflicts
During this journey, the kids learned about ancient weapons that were used during warfare. One of those weapons was a catapult. We built our own catapult variation with the instructions supplied. We substituted some of the supplies listed. We built our catapult using twigs, a pocket knife, rubber banks, and hot glue. It turned out fantastic and worked perfectly.
It is amazing how sturdy this catapult is and how well it works!
Now the boys want to build a big life size model. Oh boy!
One of the boys also built a Lego catapult. He had a battle with his Lego men. This catapult worked very well too. Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego that was flung across the room?
Dad helped the kids make wooden swords a while back. They had a lot of fun making them.
It was fun to have their own sword and compare it to the weapons used in the Middle Ages unit study. The 12 year old made a paper hat for a king, draped a blanket on as a cape and pretended he was in a heated battle with the others to protect his kingdom.
Someday they would like to make an actual shield to go with their sword. They would also like to make a long bow and set up an archer range. They have shot bows and cross bows before. But they are interested in making their own primitive long bow now. They have been researching how to make it, but we haven’t built it yet. I just hope no-one gets hurt with all these battles they like to act out.
Stop 25: Final Stop – Packing Up
Lapbooks are one of our favorite projects.
The Lapbook is the last lesson #25 in the Project Passport Middle Ages, but we decided to put ours together as we went along for the purpose of this review so our reading audience could see it in action.
We are about half way through with the Lapbook at the time of writing this review.
We still have a ways to go to finish this study of the Middle Ages and in addition to the recommended activities, we are adding some “extras” into our study as we find the time. These additional activities will add a few more weeks onto our hands on learning. The kids are really enjoying this unit study.
Because this is a flexible unit study, you can go faster or slower and pick and choose which lessons you want to complete. For example if you speed up to 3 lessons a week, and do all of the lessons, you can finish this study in 8 weeks, or if you slow down and do 1 lesson a week on the journey, this unit study will last a full 25 weeks. We chose to go at our own pace, plug in the activities we were interested in, added in a few additional ideas we researched, and customized the study to fit best with our family’s interest and schedule.
Check out this video that explains even more about Project Passport unit studies.
Home School In The Woods offers free samples of audio dramas and lessons and much more. Be sure to check out their free samples on their website. We love their History Timelines too! Home School In The Woods is a great resource for homeschool families. We highly recommend all of the great products at Home School In The Woods.
Homeschool In The Woods
Be sure to check out all of the great products from Home School In The Woods. And be sure to check out all of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studiesseries including their latest “Ancient Greece”. They will have “Ancient Rome” available soon and are adding new products all the time.
Be sure to check out Home School In The Woods social media sites for all the latest news and product updates.
My kids are enjoying Times Alive online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way. Fun animated stories are a refreshing way to learn and remember math facts. With Times Alive, it is so easy for kids to master learning multiplication.
Online Math Learning Program
Multi-student use on the same computer.
Retail $9.95 per month.
Additional products are available.
Please check the website for more information.
Recommendations and Requirements:
To use Times Alive online learning program, you will need:
A computer with internet access
A mouse or other pointing device
Video at 1024 x 768 or higher
400 mhz or greater
128 MB of RAM or greater
You can use this program daily for 20+/- minutes. Some children will move faster and others will progress slower due to variations in skill levels. If you don’t prefer to use it daily, it is recommended to use it at a minimum of twice a week for progress and retention. However each family can find a pace that feels right for their learning needs.
How We Used Times Alive
This is a “no tears” method of learning math. My kids don’t like math practice and try to get away with the bare minimum. If one lesson is all that I have scheduled, then they do the one lesson and nothing more. I have suggested some days to do additional practice work in our regular math program, but those requests are usually met with grumbling.
Times Alive came to the rescue! The online lessons, stories, and animated songs in the Times Alive lessons are fun. The kids don’t complain to add in a few extra minutes of practice learning about math times tables.
We have six kids in our family and they were able to share the Times Alive program on the same computer. The program is set up for family use and each of my kids can log in and log out and then the next one can use it. This program worked out great for our family. The subscription doesn’t allow for use with more than one computer, but it will keep track of all of my kids progress in their own dashboard, as long as they use the same computer each time they log in.
My kids enjoyed reading along with the stories. Most kids love stories and Times Alive tells silly math stories that makes learning math facts fun and easy to remember. These stories are filled with goofy characters and it is fun to see the characters come alive in the story and find out what adventure or dilemma they go through and this triggers you to associate the fact and remember it later.
As the lesson progresses, the story lesson is followed by another video with a catchy song that also helps my kids remember the facts they learned in the story. Then there are interactive games and fun quizzes to engage their interests and these serve the purpose of testing their math fact recall.
There are also progress reports that keep track of quiz scores, dates the lessons were completed, how much time they spent learning, and also summarize their overall learning.
Another thing we really liked about the program is that we could stop and go as the kids needed. There is no set schedule in the program so we were able to use the program as it fit into our schedule. Each time they use it, the program keeps track of where they left off, so they could resume the learning the next time they logged in. I found the progress reports to be a helpful tool. You have the option to print off their progress reports and use them how ever you wish. This is a great to put into their portfolio if you desire.
Check out this fun video from Times Alive.
City Creek Press
Times Alive is created by City Creek Press. It you are looking for great learning products to boost your child’s learning and retention skills, be sure to check out all of their other great products such as books, DVD’s, Computer programs, etc. They have been producing learning programs since 1992 and many of their resources have proven to boost student skills and retention above 95% with some post test scores reaching 98%.
Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Times Alive in their home. The Homeschool Review Crew is a great way to see how products fit into different families with different learning styles. There is a wide variety of families who volunteer to try out these great products and share their experience. I hope you will check it out!
If you are looking for curriculum, or help with lesson planning, or just want a helpful time management resource, you might want to try SchoolhouseTeachers.com They sent us a Yearly Membership to review.
Whether you want education courses (preschool through highschool), or you just want some resources for managing your household more efficiently, they have something for everyone and you can get started for just $1. Be sure to check out the website for special offers too. They currently are running a great sale for 50% off their yearly membership.
Online Education Resource
Preschool through Highchool
Resources for Teachers
Resources for Parents
Yearly Membership – Premium Access
Our Thoughts about SchoolhouseTeachers.com
I spent some time looking around this website and planning several of the courses they offer in our curriculum for the remainder of this year. I am impressed with the huge variety of resources available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
We have 6 kids and they range from preschool to highschool. We have a child in preschool, first grade, third grade, sixth grade, eight grade, and tenth grade. Having a resource like this with something for each one of them, all in one place, and for one low price, is a huge blessing!
There are no additional textbooks required. The classes are an online format and video format. They offer printouts with various classes and you can print as many as you need. Some classes may suggest additional reading materials that can easily be found online or free at a local library. They offer lots of planning resources to coordinate your classes and materials so you can plan your days, weeks, months out as far as you want to best meet the needs of you and your family.
We can choose a class based on the grade level or based on the subject matter. We are not locked into selecting a class and we can change the class at any time. There are 300 classes and we can choose one class, two classes, or we can do all 300! There is only one small fee and our entire family can benefit. This is such an amazing opportunity to learn what we want when we want.
I love everything they offer, but I am especially fond of the support they have for parents just getting started and for veteran homeschool parents of highschoolers. They walk you through the homeschool process at each stage and grade level. They have help for families with children of special needs too.
Some of the supportive benefits of using this program with my older students for me as a parent of older are: Portfolio Assistance, Tracking Courses, Report Cards, A Scheduler, and help creating Transcripts with lots of tips and suggestions.
Another resource that I am so excited about is the menu planner. They have recipes organized for months at a time. Not only can I use them, but I can also use these to motivate the older kids to plan and fix meals too.
My younger kids are excited about all of it. This resource opens so many fun classes for them. They are excited about the art classes, unit studies, guitar classes and Spanish. My oldest is excited about the science classes and foreign languages he will be able to complete for his highschool credits.
I am thrilled will be able to do these classes together from the comfort of our home. I don’t have to hop into the van and run them to lessons here and there which takes a lot of time and extra resources. I am also excited we can go at our own pace. We can log in when we want and stop when we want and each class will keep track of our progress no mater how fast or how slow we go.
Check out this short video clip to hear first hand from another homeschool mom about how easy it is to use SchoolhouseTeachers.com with her family.
50% Off Special Offer:
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is running a 50% off special offer until January 15th. LOCK IN NOW at the $9.95/month rate so that you save 50% on the NEW regular price that will go up the 15th of January to $19.95 /month. Even at the full price, this is such a great deal the whole family will benefit from using! And if you just want to try it out, you can get started for $1.
Be sure to follow SchoolhouseTeachers.com on their social media links for all the latest news on resources, course updates, and special sales offers.
The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a great way to encourage children to listen and read Bible stories. We were sent The Beginner’s Bible for review and I was very excited to receive this new updated version with bright 3D art work and fun illustrations to use in our home.
The Beginner’s Bible
90 Brightly Illustrated Bible Stories
Retails for $16.99
Additional discounts up to 50% for bulk purchases
Recommended for Kids ages 6 and under (Read Aloud)
Easy Read for kids 7-8
But also great as an easy reader for older kids and ESL too.
The Beginner’s Bible was first released in 1989, and has sold over 25 million copies in the past 27+ years. 25 MILLION! That is an amazing testimony of how this wonderful gem, filled with timeless wisdom, is to share with each generation of children around the world.
Why Use An Illustrated Bible For Kids?
There are many reasons to use the bible in your home. It is so important to incorporate the truths from the bible in raising children. It is Father God’s love letter and instruction manual to all of his children, young and old. Using an illustrated Bible helps kids “picture” the events and people they are learning about. I like this illustrated version because it simplifies the learning for younger children without taking away from the message that God put there for us to learn.
In addition to advice and instructions in the Bible, you also read about the fascinating lives of the men and women who lived during the time it was written. Reading the Bible actually causes your faith, and your children’s faith, in Father God and his son Jesus to grow. The bible helps you see how consistently faithful God is and how much he loves us. It shows you the ups and downs in people’s lives and how God brought them through the good and bad experiences that people live through.
The bible teaches us how to handle good and bad experiences we go through in life and how to trust in God who hears our prayers and helps guide us everyday. The bible gives us values to live by called a biblical worldview. People still go through good and bad experiences today and we need God more now than ever. The bible tells us about his only begotten son he sent to save mankind from their sin and eternal separation from God. Jesus paid the price so that we can spend eternity with God if we will believe, love and obey his teachings.
A few ways we can incorporate using The Beginner’s Bible with kids in our every day life:
Read aloud by parents, grandparents, and older siblings.
Read along for beginners.
Independent reading for beginners.
Circle Time, Quiet Time, Bed Time
Retelling the stories using additional props such as Legos, Crafts, Puppets, Diorama, Costumes, etc.
Homeschool Projects, Home, Bible Study, Get Togethers, Sunday School
Create Lap Books, Note Books, Timelines, etc.
Writing Practice as children copy the story onto their own notebook pages.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
The Beginner’s Bible Experience In Our Home
We have been using The Beginner’s Bible since the beginning of having children in our family. Let me see…that is over 16+ years! We received our first copy as a gift when our oldest was born. We have purchased a few more copies over the years. Our current version is still on our bookshelf and has lasted through lots of little hands, quiet times on the couch, and several moves across country. This illustrated bible for kids has been a family favorite of ours for many years. We have six kids and each one started their Bible learning with The Beginner’s Bible.
We have made it a priority to spend time reading in the bible each day. Our younger kids listen to bible stories being read to them and our older kids read the bible themselves and also read to their younger siblings.
Once a week we set aside time for the kids to retell bible stories they have learned. They can choose any props or make crafts or use Legos, etc. The older boys also like to make Lego stop motion movies to retell the events in the bible stories.
Sometimes we turn the learning adventure into a Unit Study and spend an entire month on a specific theme such as “forgiveness” or “Ancient Egypt” or “the miracles of Jesus” etc. This is a great way for the kids to learn hands on and practice sharing what they have learned with each other and also share with daddy when he gets home from work.
There are 90 stories in this illustrated Bible. That is over a year’s worth of stories if you focus on learning one new story a week. Or complete it in a year if you read two stories a week. If you want to go faster, you could read this in 90 days if you do one story each day. You can go at a pace that works best for your family.
Another great way to use The Beginner’s Bible with your kids is to include the free printables and games on The Beginner’s Bible Website (recommended for kids 12 and under). Perhaps you can print them off as you read each story or print them off ahead of time and make a folder with the printables for each story and build a story unit study. You can also add more materials to your folders as you find additional resources.
Since we love making unit studies with stories we read, we are using two to three related stories each week. It will take us about a year to do the entire book at this pace.
Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study
Be sure to check out a story I posted using The Beginner’s Bible called Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study. Unit Studies are one of our favorite ways to learn. They are cross-curricular and subjects (math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a theme, they are hands on, and they help children retain what they have learned.
We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities, including the FREE sample curriculum lesson plan called “Jesus Rescues the Lost” and created our own unit study. These resources are made especially for The Beginner’s Bible and help kids understand the stories and truths even more as the activities engage more of their senses (listening, coloring, drawing, eye hand coordination, decision making, etc) in a hands on way.
The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son” , watching the lesson video, a list of several “Bible Verses” to read from a regular Bible, and a “Memory Scripture Verse” for the kids to memorize, as well as a helpful “Teaching Point” to focus the lesson on.
The lesson plan provided me with a master supply list for activities, and suggested optional supplies for craft projects (we made sheep puppets and a shepherd staff), printouts, and a skit for the kids to act out with props, and a take home family page.
This was a lot of fun for the kids. You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.
We used The Beginner’s Bible and Legos as a way to retell the bible story of Noah. That story includes more fun ideas on using this children’s illustrated Bible in fun hands on learning ways.
More Learning Fun
After reading the stories in The Beginner’s Bible, my kids love to watch the animated videos by the same company.
You can find these on “youtube.” There is also an APP from their website for these stories, games, and videos for your smart phone.
The videos are a great way to reinforce the learning. They are entertaining and engaging. We set aside time to fix a snack like pretzels and apple slices and my kids sit down to watch the bible stories.
Check The Beginner’s Bible website and youtube for more details on fun ways to enhance the learning.
The Beginner’s Bible
Website & Teaching Resources
Please check out The Beginner’s Bible website for wonderful FREE resources to compliment your child’s learning and enjoyment using The Beginner’s Bible.
They have free printouts for coloring pages, word puzzles, mazes, online learning games etc. Print as many copies as you need and create your own folders filled with fun learning projects to go along with the bible stories.
Free Stuff From The Website To Use With The Beginner’s Bible:
Read Together Sheets (print and bind these for an additional story book)
Writing Sheets (practice writing letters and numbers)
Place Mats and Posters (so many uses!)
Book Marks (everybody needs book marks!)
Online Games, Quizzes, etc
Word Puzzles Printouts
Recommended Bible Story Reading Schedule for the year.
APP for your phone or electronic device with stories and activities.
They also offer 2 lessons for free from their curriculum kit: “Creation” and “Jesus Rescues the Lost” . I would encourage you to get a copy of these free lesson plans and see how easy it is to use this illustrated Bible in your learning adventures.
If you want to purchase the complete lesson plans, they are available for an additional purchase on the Zonderkidz website and are called “The Beginner’s Bible Curriculum Kit”. After using the free lesson plan they offered, I think this would be a great resource. It would make it simple to use The Beginner’s Bible as a curriculum and the lesson planning work is all done for you.
The kit comes with a hardback copy of The Beginner’s Bible and a DVD with a year’s worth of lesson plans including 30 teaching lessons that incorporate the 90 bible stories, and a DVD with 28 animated video stories, fun activities, and lots of additional classroom use ideas. There is also a family take-home page for each lesson for kids to share with their parents and to further the learning at home.
The Beginner’s Bible Is Fun For Kids
The Beginner’s Bible is full of faith building stories and fun illustrations to enhance the learning. It is a wonderful gift for your children and grandchildren, classrooms, and kids clubs. Zonderkidz also offers resources in English and Spanish, I can Read Books, The Beginner’s Bible Deluxe, The Beginner’s Bible For Little Ones, The Beginner’s Bible Curriculum Kit, etc. as well as additional resources on their website. I think using this children’s Bible is a an essential piece for teaching young children about the stories and people of the Bible. Every page is filled with full-color illustrations that retell 90 Bible stories in a fun and engaging way.
Our younger kids love the bright colors of the illustrations in this children’s Bible. Looking at colorful pictures helps keep their attention whether they are listening to it as a read aloud, or if they are reading the stories for themselves. It is a great way to include Bible learning in our home and incorporate into our homeschool learning too. I am sure they will continue to use this treasure this illustrated Bible for many more years to come.
The Beginner’s Bible was named the 2006 Retailers Choice Award winner in Children’s Nonfiction.
Be sure to connect with Zonderkidz on their social media links for all the latest news, special offers, and resources to further the learning.
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.
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.
Birth Of Jesus: Multi Level
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:
Traceable for Multi-Level e-Book:
Birth of Jesus Teacher’s e-Book:
stick figure drawings,
lesson goals & key points,
review questions & answers.
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
Atlas of the Bible Lands
Dry erase board and/or a chalk board (for mom)
Dry erase markers and/or chalk (for mom)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be sure to check out GrapeVine Studies on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.
Have you ever thought of your kitchen as a science lab? Well you will now with this yummy science book full of experiments that will please your kid’s tummy, entice their taste buds, and satisfy their curiosity.
Eat Your Science Homework
Ages 7-10 (flexible to use for all ages)
Large Full Color Illustrations,
48 High Quality Glossy Pages
Softcover Retails for $7.94
Hardcover Retails for $16.95
This book covers six fun science adventures to help kids learn about the Scientific Method, Atoms and Molecules, Properties of Matter, Inherited Traits, Rocks and Minerals, and Our Solar System. There is a free Educator’s Guide to help you teach each adventure. For each science adventure has an introduction, a recipe, and a science experiment to complete after making the recipe. Each science adventure includes vocabulary words, a fun recipe to make in the kitchen, an experiement using the scientific method, and fun colorful illustrations to read. Each adventure teaches science concepts in an easy to learn hands on way.
There are six delicious recipes to make, one recipe for each science adventure. Steps to complete for each recipe:
Before You Begin: Prep work to do ahead of making the recipe. Examples might be preheating the oven to the correct baking temperature.
Ingredients: A list of food times and quantities to make the recipe. Examples might be 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, etc.
Equipment: Equipment needed to complete the recipe. Examples might be a muffin pan, mixing bowl, spatula, etc.
Method: Steps to put the ingredients together and then bake or use whatever method to achieve the finished results.
Free Downloadable Teacher’s Guide available on the website. This guide has great tips and printouts for you to further the learning. It does not follow the book exactly, and all of the experiments are not discussed. Instead the guide gives you a general feel for how to use the book to enhance learning. The guide offers insight into a couple of the experiments (Atoms and Molecules: Atomic Popcorn Balls, Inherited Traits: Loop Whirl, and Arch Cookies) and has a few additional experiments ( 1+1 Doesn’t = 2; Talk About Tiny; Fingerprint Knowhow; Thumbs Up; Volcanoes and Heat; Science Sampler: Fondue) an icebreaker Bingo game; and worksheet printouts.
30+ Vocabulary Words
There are over 30 science vocabulary words and terms in this book. The teacher’s guide has printouts your kids can write out each vocabulary word, their own definition, the actual definition, and include a picture. There are partially completed pages where the kids only need to fill in their own definition and picture and the word and actual definition are already completed, and there is also a blank template for kids to fill it all in themselves. You can choose the level you need for your kids based on age and skill.
What We Are Learning:
We are about 1/2 of the way through this funtastic book! I hope to finish it before the holidays and buy the next book in the series. This book is a fun way to teach 30+ science concepts and vocabulary words with six easy to make and delicious recipes.
We are learning about the Scientific Method, Atoms and Molecules, Properties of Matter, Inherited Traits, Rocks and Minerals, and the Solar System.
Question: How to ask a question.
Make A Hypothesis: Make a hypothesis or guess about the answer.
Observe: Observe and analyze what happens.
Conclude: Form a conclusion about the answer to the question.
Atoms and Molecules
We popped popcorn and made Atomic Popcorn Balls. We learned about the periodic table and atoms and molecules. We pop popcorn weekly at our house, but this is the first time the kids turned them into popcorn balls. I used to make them years ago for holidays, but stopped when I became more health conscious. But it was fun to make them for science!
Properties of Matter
Density Dressing and Veggie Sticks. This was really fun as we made homemade dressing for our vegetables to dip in. We have eaten veggies and dip many times, but never learned about density, and properties of matter.
Invisible Ink Snack Pockets. We are looking forward to making this experiement soon. The kids will learn about pH and and will make our own personalized version of hot pockets (like a pocket of bread crust stuffed with pizza toppings) and will be able to write on the outside that reappears when they are finished baking.
This was one of the kids favorite science adventures in this book. They were able to make cookies and study inheritance and fingerprints. My kids read recipes and make cookies all the time. We have learned math and measurements and conversions many times in the kitchen. BUT this is the first time we have turned cookies into a science experiment. I will post a future story about making these cookies.
Rocks and Minerals
This section teaches the kids about weights of different minerals and rocks. They learn about the periodic table and about sedimentation. They make a Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna (a lasagna made from pizza topping ingredients and lasagna noodles). We have this science adventure planned for next week and the kids are really looking forward to it.
Our Solar System
With this section kids learn about gravity, black holes, mass, matter. They will bake muffins with pancake mix and sausage to demonstrate these concepts. We are planning to make these muffins during our Thanksgiving holiday for breakfast. We will keep you posted in an upcoming story about this. The kids are hoping they will like the taste and I think they will because they have had a sandwich made with pancakes on the outside and a sausage patty on the inside, so I think these will have a similar flavor even though they are in a muffin shape. We will tie in more Solar System learning the week before and I think this experiment and recipe will be a lot of fun.
Though my kids have been cooking for many years already, they have learned a lot of new things with this fun book and will look at cooking in the kitchen in a whole new way. They see the kitchen classroom in a whole new way. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this science book.
About the Creator’s
Author: Ann McCallum is an award winning author and a highschool teacher. She currently teaches in Maryland, USA and has also has years of teaching experience in Canada and the United Arab Emirates. She has authored several books for learning books for children of all ages: Eat Your Science Homework, Eat Your Math Homework, Eat Your History Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and The Measure of a Giant. Ann McCallum Books has some of the funniest titles for curriculum your kids are going to love.
Illustrator: Leeza Hernandez is an award winning graphic designer, author, and illustrator in both England and the USA. Her works are featured in books, magazines, and newspapers.
Be sure to follow Ann McCallum Books on their Social Media links: