Educeri ~ Review

We are always looking for new ways to help AJ learn, so we were excited to have the chance to review Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri …….  Educeri a division of DataWORKS .

What is Educeri?

Educeri is an online based program designed to help teachers teach specific learning objectives to their students. There are currently 1108 lessons and resources for kindergarten through high school levels. The majority of the lessons cover math and language arts topics, but there are other lessons available depending on the grade level. When you subscribe to Educeri you are given access to all of the lessons and resources.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
In addition to math and language arts there are, 21 Science lessons which are mainly for middle school students and 26 History lessons mainly for grades five and up. There is also one lesson in Art, Music, PE, and Spanish.

The site is set up so you can search for your desired grade level or subject. You can also search by the concept that you want to teach.

For all of the Math and Language Arts lessons there are downloadable student handouts that you can print off for your student. Your student works on the handout while you are teaching them the lesson. Then they complete some independent work after the lesson is completed.

How We Used Educeri

When I logged onto the site I decided to simply go to the 8th grade section. I found 73 lessons and resources for the 8th grade level. I was surprised to see that the 8th grade section also had a few different history lessons. Since we are not using a complete Language Arts program this year, I decided to check out the Language Arts lessons first.

There were lessons covering:

Analyzing Analogies


Analyzing Themes in Literature

Literary Devices

Analyzing Conflicting Viewpoints


Grammar and


One of the lessons AJ worked on was on Idioms. I decided not to print off the student hand outs, instead we discussed the information.

When I clicked to teach the lesson I the first page lists the objective of the lesson and the prior knowledge that students should know about the topic. The following slide went on to explain the difference and give a few examples of literal and figurative language.


Then there is guided practice. The answers are all blank and then as you click the mouse answers are revealed. There is a highlighting and pen tool to use so you can interact with the lesson. Once the guided practice is finished there is a section about the relevance of the skill and then a review of how to use the skill. The lesson ends with the independent practice. In this section the answers are again blank, and with each click of the mouse an answer is revealed.

I decided to spread the lessons out over a few days. One day we would introduce the concept and do the guided practice. Then another day we would go over the relevance of the skill and how to use it. At the end of the week I would have her do the independent work.

I feel that she learned some new skills through this review. We mainly used the Language Arts lessons, but she did use a few of the math lessons.

What We Thought About Educeri

While I felt AJ learned a few new skills, I felt that this product was much more than we needed in our homeschool setting. There was a lot of focus on objectives and how each skill would help the student preform better on tests. In a school setting where they have to stick to standard based learning, this would be perfect. I just felt it was a little over kill.

AJ thought that the lessons took too long and didn’t like that a single part of the answer would be revealed at a time. She didn’t like the way that math was taught and felt that there was a lot of unneeded steps when she could easily figure out problems. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the lessons are common core aligned, and it is not at all what she was use to.

I see this product being a better fit in a group setting. Since we do so much one on one learning, the set up of the lessons was just not the right fit for us. In the future I think I will just print of the hand outs for her and teach her off of them.

If you want to ensure that your child is learning all of the skills that their peers in public school are learning, then this might be exactly what you are looking for. The best part is that you can try it out for 30 days risk free! See if it is something that will work for your family.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
Crew Disclaimer

Gratitude Attitude

It seems like this time of year everyone is in a thankful mood. For a brief period of time, we all take the time to be thankful for how truly blessed we are. For the simple things and for the big things.

The entire month of November is full of blog posts and Facebook updates about things people are thankful for, leading up to Thanksgiving. Unfortunately the gratitude attitude doesn’t last very long. The very day after Thanksgiving, and sometimes even on the day, we are out shopping, pushing, shoving, and exhibiting a “give me” attitude.

The time of year when we are trying to instill thankfulness and gratitude in our children, our kids are bombarded with commercials for things that they now NEED even though a week before they had never heard of them.

Being thankful should not be limited to a month or season, but we seem to put a big emphasis on it this time of year. No matter how hard things seem, there is always something to be thankful for. Some days the only thing you think you can be thankful for might be waking up – but it is something.

Our family has had a very hard year, and lately I have noticed that AJ isn’t thankful for the many blessings that we do have. She seems to only focus on the things that she can’t have and the things she can’t do. We have been talking a lot about needs and wants…..something she knows but doesn’t always think about. We have also taken time each week to learn about how people in other parts of the world – and even in our own country – live. My hope is that the more she learns about how a lot of kids have to go to bed hungry, or go without jackets in the cold, that maybe she will learn to be thankful for the many blessings we have.

Free Thankful Notebooking Page

This year we will be focusing on having a gratitude attitude and being thankful for the small things in life. Throughout the month of November, I plan to have my little girl fill out this thankfulness notebooking page that I made in an effort to get her back in a thankful mood.

You can download your free copy by clicking on this link.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy ~ Review

One of my favorite things about school was being on the yearbook committee. I learned a lot about taking pictures and editing them and I even had a chance to take and edit a few videos. As AJ gets older, one thing I want to make sure she doesn’t miss out on is the fun aspects of school. She is really interested in photography and takes pictures from a perspective that I often don’t even think about. If she was in a public school I think she would probably want to take an elective based on film or drama. There is only so much I can teach her about those subjects because I don’t exactly remember everything from 7th and 8th grade.

We were recently given the opportunity to review Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc.. I thought that it would be a great way for AJ to learn more about making videos. I didn’t realize how much I was going to learn in the process!

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

What Is Online Christian Filmmakers Academy?

It is an online course taught by Ken and Zack Lawrence. They are a father son team that has been working in the video production industry since 2004. The course is taught using numerous short information packed videos. They are interesting, well made, and really explain concepts in a way that even a complete beginner can understand. One thing that I really liked was that you can watch the video as many times as you need to in order to grasp the different concepts.

The course is broken down into five modules.

Module 1 – The Camera

This section covers so many aspects of the camera. We currently only have a point and shoot camera but a DSLR camera has been on my wish list for a long time. This section will make picking out the right camera a lot easier when the time comes. We learned about lenses, frame rate, shutter speed, and so much more. Unfortunately, since we don’t have the right camera yet, we couldn’t do any hands on learning on those topics. It was amazing how much I didn’t know about picture taking! This section also covers camera support and tripods though. We plan to implement what we learned in that lesson in our future photography.

Module 2 – Cinematography

This section was all about lighting. I find lighting to be an issue in my photography, so this section was one I looked forward to. We both learned so many tips that I think will help take our pictures to the next level. Some of the topics covered include: hard verses soft light, color, temperature, painting with light, and framing.

Module 3 – Sound

This was another section that is jammed packed full of information. We learned about different microphones, how to capture sound, and how to add in sound after the fact. This requires a lot of expensive equipment, but it was fun to learn about.

Module 4 – Pre-Production

This section covers all of the things you need to do before the video shoot. It covers things like writing the screenplay, pre-production paperwork, and assembling a team.

Module 5 – Production

This section covers; the crew, set hierarchy, set etiquette, directing, the slate, and filming step by step. We haven’t made it this far through the course yet, but I look forward to watching the videos and learning more.

What We Thought

AJ learns well with videos and has enjoyed this course so far. She has started to use some of the things she has learned already with her photography and hopes to make a few videos in the future. She likes that they are short but interesting. We plan to go through these videos a few times to make sure we learn as much as possible.

While I don’t think you can learn everything about film making by simply watching these videos, I think they cover way more than the basics. They would be helpful for someone who wanted to improve their photography, a person looking to make better videos, or a person who is thinking about going into the film industry.

Currently the price for year long access to the course is $299, but through November 30 if you use the code, FALLCREW16 you will get $100 off of that price. If your teen is interested in film, this could make a great Christmas gift.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
Crew Disclaimer ~ Review

About a year ago I was getting ready for a major surgery on my foot. I knew that I would be in the hospital for a few days and that I wouldn’t be able to cook for a while once I got home. Since I am allergic to corn, and it is in just about everything, I knew that I needed to do something to make sure I would have something to eat during my recovery. I couldn’t depend on a TV dinner or a can of soup because the majority of them contain corn products. In the end I decided to make a bunch of meals ahead of time and freeze them. It was a lot of work to find recipes that would freeze well and would work for our family, but having the meals ready to go made our life a lot easier.

We ended up with a few favorite meals that I still try to make ahead and keep in the freezer for days when I am hurting too badly to cook. Unfortunately, we also ended up throwing away too much food because some foods just don’t freeze well. I was in the middle of trying to find new freezer recipes to try when we were given the chance to review an amazing product that I thought would be perfect for our family. We were given the chance to review the Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. We received an annual subscription.

Fill Your Freezer with homemade meals!

What is is an online subscription based product that helps you to quickly and easily find recipes to make ahead and put in your freezer. The process is simple!

First you decide on a plan that fits your family. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
There are enough options to satisfy the majority of families. You can pick from meal plans that change monthly including:

  • Traditional Meal Plan – This includes a variety of different meats and cooking methods.
  • Gluten-Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Meal Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan – This has 10 different meals that are each made twice.
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All Pork Chop Meals Plan
  • Or a Build a Menu Meal Plan – This lets you pick a total of five meals from any of the meal categories.

Most of the meal plans have five different meals that you will double giving you a total of ten meals to put in your freezer. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Once you select the meal plan that fits your family, you decide how many servings of each meal you want to make. Then you simply save the meal plan to your computer and print it off. You can also print labels for each of the meals.

For each recipe in the plan you are given directions for making a single meal and the assembly and preparation directions for how to make two of the meals. You are also given a shopping list for each recipe individually and a master shopping list that includes everything you will need to make all ten or twenty meals. The shopping list is even divided by the sections of the grocery store. One spot has all of the spices you will need while another section lists all of the canned or boxed goods. The process should make for a simple shopping experience. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Then you simply return home, batch cook the meals, and freeze them. The result is a freezer full of home cooked meals that you can pull out and make with little effort on busy days.

How We Used

When we were first given access to the website I began looking through the different meal plans. None of the premade meal plans were a good fit for our family so I decided to make one of our own. After looking through dozens of recipes I was quickly discouraged. While the site has a lot of different meals I found a lot of them to be very similar. There were also a lot that required things like Alfredo sauce or cream soups. I have to make my own Alfredo Sauce and cream soup base from scratch, and they don’t freeze well so instantly a lot of the meals wouldn’t work for our family. After looking over the different recipes I found 8 that sounded like they would be something we would like and something I wouldn’t have to make too many changes to.

The process of making the meal plan was easy once I decided on the recipes that I wanted to make.  I selected the meals, put in the number of servings, and printed off the lists. I wasn’t sure how big the servings would be so I decided to opt for more than I needed to make sure there would be enough. The serving sizes are actually quite large and in the future I will be able to make less and still fill up our family.

After I printed off the shopping list, I had someone take me to the store and came home ready to cook. The meals I decided to make were: 5 Ingredient Chili, Slow Cooker Chili Mac, Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, and Ranch Chicken and Baby Potato Bake.

When I got home I made up the chili, chili mac, and the butter chicken. But when I went to make the chicken Parmesan I found out that I didn’t have bread crumbs and they were not on the shopping list that was generated. I was a little irritated because I can’t drive and it isn’t always easy to have someone take me to the store. Since I didn’t have bread crumbs I couldn’t make that recipe. Then when I went to make the other recipe I realized I didn’t have bacon, and it wasn’t on my list either.

I decided the three meals would be enough to start with. We tried the chili first. It was ok, but we needed to make some changes to fit our taste. It is a recipe we will make again in the future. Next we tried the chili mac. It was a meal I was looking forward to. The first time I cooked it like the directions said and the macaroni was way over cooked. It was a starchy mess that we had to throw away. The next time I only let it cook part of the time and didn’t add in all of the macaroni. It was dry and again it had to be thrown away. I thought for sure that we would like the butter chicken. But we didn’t.

What We Thought

I love the idea of Cooking ahead and having meals ready to throw in the oven or the slow cooker makes dinner time go a lot smother. Unfortunately, because of food allergies that limit what we can eat and a somewhat picky family, a lot of the meals won’t work for our family. We plan to make more meals form in the future, but we won’t be freezing any of them until we try them out and like them first. My grocery budget can’t handle throwing away food.

I loved how easy the site was to use. The way the shopping list was set up made for an organized trip to the store, but they need to find a way to make sure all of the ingredients end up on the shopping list. There were also errors in a few of the recipes making it hard to know how much spices needed to be added.

Between the lists, helpful videos, and labels, this really is a great way to get started in freezer cooking. If you don’t have a lot of food restrictions and have family who is willing to try new dinners, this is a good product to try.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about by clicking on the graphic below. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
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Working It Out ~ Review

One subject that I enjoyed learning about in school was poetry. I enjoyed breaking down poems and trying to figure out what they meant. It was always an enjoyable experience, but something that took some effort. When AJ started to learn about poetry however, she hated it. She was a very literal thinker and the idea of nonsense poems was hard for her to understand. We worked on poetry for a while and eventually she started to enjoy it. She even wrote some decent poems of her own. Now that she is older, I have been trying to incorporate some poetry that has more meaning. It has been a little difficult to find the right balance for her.

We were recently given the chance to review a product from Everyday Education, LLC called Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. I thought that it would be a great product to help AJ learn more about poetry.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

What is Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert?

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

This book (we received an e-book) contains over 50 poems that were all written by George Herbert. He was a poet who was born in 1593. George Herbert lead a rather fascinating life even though he didn’t live to see his 40th birthday. He was a well educated man who ended up becoming an ordained minister.

Working it Out is a collection of poems that can be used as a devotion. The interesting thing about this book is that it is written in a way to help even those who are not poetically gifted to understand and enjoy the experience of reading poetry.

The poems in Working it Out are broken into 12 main categories.

  • Looking Back, Moving Forward
  • Letting Go
  • Confession
  • Grace
  • Separation
  • Petition
  • Praise
  • Depending on God
  • Grief
  • Prayer
  • Special Blessings of the Church
  • More Insights

The number of poems in each section varies, as does the length of each poem. Some are only a few stanzas long where others are pages long.

After each poem there is a breakdown of the poems meaning. I like how the breakdown lets you see the poem as much more than just words on a page. Each poem has the following explanation:

  • The Big Picture – This section gives an overall meaning of the poem.
  • The Parts of the Picture – This section breaks down the poem by stanza. Literary elements are discussed in this section.
  • The Parts of the Picture Come Together – This section explains the movement throughout the poem. I personally felt this was one of the most helpful sections.
  • Reflections – These are questions about the poem that ask you to reflect about the meaning of the poem.
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection – These are additional scripture verses that relate to the poem.

How to Use Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

You can simply read through the book and learn a lot of information. After reading each poem you learn about the meaning of it. Through this process you and your student will be able to grow in the knowledge of poetry while becoming closer to God.

If you want deepen the learning process there are ideas in the book to help take the learning to the next level.

You are encouraged not to rush through this book. It is actually meant to be used over a school year by learning about one poem a week. There is a lot of flexibility to help you make the process of learning about poetry enjoyable.

How We Used Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

Learn the meaning behind poetry while growing closer to God!

We started off by reading through a poem at the beginning of the week. Then the next day we would read it again and discuss what she thought the poem could mean. The process was difficult for AJ so we would read through the meaning of the poem a few times.

After learning about a few different poems I could see AJ was just not ready for this book. Instead we have decided to just read through a poem each week and talk about any literary elements she can find. I have also had her color code a few of the poems. She would highlight words that had to do with love red, and words that had a sad connotation grey.

It the poem, “The Flower” I had her mark the words about spring in yellow and the words about winter in a dark color. The poem is about renewal, and while she may not understand that yet, I know that the next time we come to this poem and try to understand its’ meaning it will be a little easier for her.

What We Thought About Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

It is a well put together study, but it ended up being too far over her head. She is in 8th grade right now and I think she will be able to get far more out of the study in another year or two. She is able to read the poems fine, but even when I help to explain their meanings, she seems a little lost. I look forward to using it with her in the future though, because it is a neat way to learn about poetry.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their child about poetry. It breaks everything down and makes the process a lot easier. It is also great for personal growth and reading too. I have read through quite a few of the poems and have enjoyed them. The best part is I can see the meaning behind the poem and compare it to what I thought the poem was talking about.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Working it Out and two other products from Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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If You Were Me And Lived In… Book Review

Post Contains Affiliate Links

While AJ is a reluctant reader, she loves books that teach her things. If she was able to only pick books out of the nonfiction section of the library, she would. But give her a text book and she normally finds it boring because of the lack of pictures. We were asked to review a few books from the, “If You Were Me and Lived in…” series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and  This review came with a fun twist, we were able to pick two books from the series and the company sent us two of their choice. It was a hard decision because there were so many great options. In the end AJ and I decided on, If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty and If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3). We picked the book about China, because we haven’t learned very much about that country in our history studies. We picked Elizabethan England because AJ will be reading her first Shakespeare play this year (YIKES!) and I wanted her to learn more about that era.

AJ’s first pick was If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2). She fell in love with Italy when she studied the Renaissance in 3rd grade. She was thrilled to see that the company decided to send us the book about the Renaissance! We also received If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4).

About the Books

The books all follow the same format. They begin with a picture of the country today and the country during the time period that the book is covering. The books cover all different things from the food that was eaten, the clothes that were worn, the types of homes, and other interesting information. Then at the end of each book there is a list of important people during the time including dates and detailed information. Following that there is a glossary in each book.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
This book is 55 pages long. It is illustrated by Silvia Brunetti. The pictures in the book varied. Some were lifelike, some looked more like paintings, and others looked like cartoons. We enjoyed the variety. It began by reviewing a little bit about the Middle Ages. It talked about the wealthy Medici family and how the family encouraged changes in architecture and supported many artists.

The book explained that girls were expected to be married by the time they were 16 and were expected to act like adults from a very young age. It also talked about how the clothes that were worn were a symbol of status in the town. In the end of the book there was a short section about art in the Renaissance. AJ was happy to see the Hands of God &Adam by Michelangelo in that section. That was one of the first pictures she ever saw in real life. I still remember when she was 9, we walked into a doctor’s office and a replica of it was hanging on the wall. She was so excited to see it and told everyone in the waiting room what it was and who painted it. Her only complaint about the book was that it needed to have more art in it. She learned a lot of new facts and was thrilled to remember things she had previously learned. This was her favorite of the books.

If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
This book is 50 pages long. It is beautifully illustrated by Paula Tabor. The pictures are lifelike and vivid. The book starts off by explaining why the time period was called the Elizabethan Period. Then it went on to explain what your life would be like if you lived in a bakery with your family. One of our favorite parts was learning where the expression, “it’s raining cats and dogs,” came from. We also learned that most people ate with their hands. Then we learned about the acting companies and how the boys had to play girls. The book ended by talking briefly about how the religion you were able to practice depended on who was leading the country.

We simply read through the book and learned quite a few new things. AJ loved that it was simple to read and full of both pictures and information. The important people section in the back of the book was really helpful. It let AJ easily learn more about the time period.

 If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
This book is 61 pages long. It is illustrated by Sarah Wright. While the pictures are colorful and cute to look at, they are cartoonish. Since we have learned about Colonial America a few times, I didn’t think that AJ would learn very much from it. I was wrong! The book starts off where volume 3 ended. It explained in a lot more detail about how the ruler of the country decided the religion in England, and how a lot of people were unhappy. Then it goes on to talk about the Mayflower Compact and how hard the first settlers had it. It explains how corn became a very important crop and how becoming allies with the Indians helped everyone. This book is full of information.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
This is a long book. It is 76 pages long and the writing is quite a bit smaller than any of the other books. It is illustrated by Mateya Arkova. The pictures in this book look like they were painted in muted watercolors. AJ and I both felt that a lot of the pictures seemed blurry.

This book (and the Colonial America one as well) is told from a male perspective. The other two we have were told from the female perspective. It starts off by explaining that the Han Dynasty was a very important dynasty in China’s history. It also explains that it is often called the Golden Age of Ancient China.

We learned that the most important area in the home was the shine and that it was very important to the Confucianism religion. We also learned that clothing was important and that only the Emperor could wear the color yellow. One fact that AJ thought was amazing was that the process of making silk was so secretive that a person could be put to death if they told the secret.

There is so much more for AJ to learn in this book. She still isn’t finished with this one because I want her to take her time and really process the information.

The book covers so much! Some of the things she will be learning about are; the different social levels, the importance of honoring their family, their school life, the process of making paper, the three main religions, calligraphy, and a lot more.

What We Thought

All of the books were full of information. They are well written making an often boring subject interesting and easy to learn about. I feel that these books can be the basis of a period study for a child in elementary grades. You can easily add crafts and activities to make it a very fun study. They would be perfect for older children to review a subject or to go over the basics of a new topic. I admit that I learned a few new facts too.

If you are looking for a great book to learn about history, any of these would be a great pick.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
Crew Disclaimer



10 Unit Study Ideas for Fall

Whether you celebrate Halloween, despise the holiday, or fall somewhere in the middle, the fact is that decorations and costumes are in almost every store. Is there a way to use some of these seasonal items to liven up your child’s learning during the months of October and November? There sure is! Here are 10 different topics you can easily study and have fun with this fall.

Fall Unit Study Ideas

1. Bones.

Grab a plain skeleton and do a unit study on the human body. Depending on the age of your child, they can learn a few bones, or learn all of the bones in the human body. It is also a great time to talk about healthy eating and keeping our bones strong.

2. Spiders.

With a pack of spider rings and a package of spider webs, you can do so many things. Make a sensory bin with the spiderweb and fall items, use the spiders as counters for math, sort the spiders by color. Use the spiders to practice position words like: over, under, in, etc. For older students, you can find the mean, median, range, and mode of the spider colors, and even do graphing activities. This site has numerous spider activities to do with your little one. Round out your study by reading a fun book like Charlotte’s Web.

3. The Moon.

Autumn is a wonderful time to study the moon, and there are so many different activities. You can chart the phases of the moon each night, calculate your weight on the moon (you can use this website), make moon pies, and so much more. Here is what we did when we studied the moon.

4. Mummies.

You can learn all about Ancient Egypt and the science behind mummification. You can even mummify an apple. Find the directions here. Another fun activity is to take a roll of toilet paper and mummify yourself. There is so much to learn about Ancient Egypt, you can stop at just mummies, or take it further into a full on history study.

5. Frankenstein.

Not a good choice for the younger crowd, but if you have an older student it can be a fun study. There are numerous study guides available, and after you read the book, you can compare it to one of the films by the same name. (Use caution with picking the film.)

6. Owls.

They are often portrayed as spooky and scary, but owls can be a very fun subject to study. Add a hands-on element to your owl study and dissect an owl pellet. Students learn so much by hands on learning, and dissecting an owl pellet will be an unforgettable experience. We did it this year, see how it went .

7. Cats.

Another animal that is often made out to be scary or spooky is the cat (especially the black cat). Learn all about cats with a free lapbook from Homeschool Share.

8. Harvest.

You can learn about farming and harvesting. A great read aloud for a harvest study is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It appeals to both boys and girls and gives a great look at how harvesting and farming were in the olden days.

9. Pumpkins.

Study the life cycle of the pumpkin from seed to plant, decorate pumpkins, make exploding pumpkins, even make homemade pumpkin pie. Here are 40 fun filled activities involving pumpkins.

10. Candy.

You can take a candy study in many different directions! Learn about it from a nutritional point of view, learn how candy is made, make your own candy, and so much more. No candy study would be complete though without reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or at least watching the movie.

There are many other topics to study during the fall, no matter what you decide to learn about, have fun!

The Cat of Bubastes ~ Review

We were recently given the opportunity to review an audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. This time we were blessed with The Cat of Bubastes which is based on one of G. A. Henty’s most popular novels. This is the second audio drama that we have received from Heirloom Audio so we were excited to listen to it. It did not disappoint us at all and definitely lived up to our high expectations.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
The Cat of Bubastes is set in Ancient Egypt. The life like sound effects and cast of very talented actors draw you into the story and make you feel like you have magically traveled to the ancient city of Thebes. The story follows Prince Amuba and his friend and mentor Jethro. The two are captured by the Egyptians and face numerous challenges. Their faith is tested as the two make difficult and dangerous decisions. AJ and I were on the edge of our seats waiting to see what was going to happen next.

There always seems to be themes of morality in these audio dramas. You learn much more than history! Heirloom Audio Productions is a company who is very passionate about bringing Christian history to life. One major theme of this story is that God will take care of the future.

We received a physical copy of the audio drama along with many fun filled bonuses. The bonuses were all online products and included:

MP3 Set – It is very helpful to have both the CD and the MP3 version of The Cat of Bubastes. It provided us with more options regarding where we were able to listen to the audio drama.

E-Book – This is 350 pages long!

MP3 Soundtrack – We aren’t usually interested in soundtracks, but this one was great.

Printable Cast Poster – The cast includes some well known actors including: Brian Blessed, Anthony Daniels, Sylvester McCoy. Elizabeth Counsell, Russell Boulter, and John Rhys-Davies.

Printable Inspirational Verse Poster – 1 Chronicles 17:20 is typed out on a beautiful background. This would be a great gift if you put it into a nice frame.

Study Guide – This can help turn this audio drama into a great deal of learning.

The study guide is 47 pages long and is full of information. It includes background information on both G. A. Henty and Moses. There is a study guide section for each track of the audio drama. The study guide is divided into four sections.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
Listening Well – These are questions about what is happening in the story. You will have to listen carefully because it is easy to miss something.

Thinking Further – This section lets you expand on what is happening in the story. There are questions that make you think deeply about Biblical principals. Other questions may have you look at a map or figure out why something about the Ancient Egyptian’s culture was important in regards to what was happening in the story.

Defining Words– This is a list of words that your child should understand before going on to the next track on the CD.

Expand Your Learning – This section doesn’t occur for every track, but it was a favorite for us. It gives more in-depth information about things in Ancient Egypt. From animals in Ancient Egypt to hierarchy and different Pharaohs, there was information about a variety of subjects. The section is something you simply need to read, but it would be a great jumping off point for a unit study of Ancient Egypt.

If you will be learning about Ancient Egypt or are looking for an action packed audio drama to keep yourself and your kids on the edge of your seats, I highly would recommend The Cats of of Bubastes. Be sure to check out the other audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions as well!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes
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Ultimate Phonics ~ Review

We have had a difficult time with AJ’s reading. She was reading at four years old and loving to learn. Then when she went to kindergarten we were told that the school was no longer teaching phonics. Instead they wanted the students to simply memorize words. And I am not talking about sight words, I mean she was expected to remember words that could be sounded out. She would even get in trouble for sounding out the words! It was a huge issue and it caused AJ to really hate reading. We have come a long way since then, but I still see her just guess at words she doesn’t know. She also struggles with spelling because she doesn’t know all of the phonetic rules.

I have been looking for something to help reinforce and improve AJ’s reading, but most of the programs I have come across seem too young for AJ. When we were given the chance to review the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning I was a little hesitant. I had AJ take their reading test and she missed seven words. The test stated if the child missed ten or more words they were missing advanced phonics decoding skills. I decided that using the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program could probably help AJ’s reading.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

What is the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program?

This program is quite different from any other phonics program we have used. It is computer based, but it is downloaded to your computer so you don’t need internet to use the program on a daily basis. It is not gamed based and it doesn’t have animated characters or bright colors. Instead it focusses only on phonics. The program is simple to use and can be used for the entire family. It has 262 lessons that teach different sounds and blends to help your child become a better reader.

The first lesson covers the alphabet and the basic sounds of the consonants. After the initial lesson, the rest of the lessons follow a pattern. Since AJ knows a lot of the basics we jumped to level 150 to start. It is recommended that everyone start at the beginning to make sure they don’t miss a concept, but I felt comfortable skipping ahead. We may go over some of the beginning lessons in the future.

Each lesson begins with  an Idea or Pattern. In this section of the lesson your child is introduced to a sound, a letter pattern (eigh, oll, ue, exc.), or a phonetic rule or idea. This is simply a page where the idea or pattern is explained. The child can read this information to their self or have the computer read it to them.

Ultimate Phonics can help your struggling reader.

The next part of the lesson is the Word List. In this section words that follow the pattern are listed. The number of words varies depending on the lesson. Your child can hear each word read to them by hovering over the word with the mouse. The child should read each word at this time.

Ultimate Phonics can help your struggling reader.

The third part of the lesson is the Words. There is a slide for each word on the word list. The child can hear the word, see it broken into syllables, and hear how each letter comes together to form the sound of the word.


The final part of the lesson is the Sentence. There are a few sentences that the child should be able to read. The sentences are made up of words that the child has learned up to that point.

Ultimate Phonics can help your struggling reader.

Once the child has finished listening and reading each section they can move to the next lesson or repeat the lesson if needed.

How We Used the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program

When I started to show AJ the program she didn’t like it. She thought that going over phonics was boring and for younger kids. Then I showed her how easy it was and she willingly gave it a try. The first lessons I had her do took five or ten minutes each. She went through each word quickly and then hurried to read the sentences. I made her slow down and not only read but spell each word so that she would remember what she was learning. I haven’t noticed an improvement in AJ’s reading yet, but I have noticed her looking at the words and thinking about them before guessing. I think we will continue with this program because it is well done. I think AJ would have liked to read if she had used a program like this.

What We Thought About the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program

This program goes over so many different sound combinations. I think that anyone who goes through the program would become a strong reader. I like that it is easy to use. A child should easily be able to use the program with little assistance. I also appreciated the fact that the program is off line. When AJ was learning to read I would have been a lot more comfortable with her using an offline program than an online one. While the program is phonetically sound, there were a few things we didn’t care for.

  • No Interaction – The student could hover over a word or sound, but they weren’t required to do anything. AJ could easily skip to the end of a lesson without doing anything, and I wouldn’t know. I think this also gives the child a chance to just zone out.
  • Computerized Voice – AJ didn’t like the voice that read the words. She said it made her want to fall asleep. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I did think it was a little monotone.
  • Didn’t Know Where to Start – After taking the test to see if AJ could benefit from the test, I expected to be told a place where she should start. She thought the first lessons were way below her level, and they were, but I didn’t want to skip too much. It would be great if there was a way to know where to start older children.
  • Lack of Fun – With so many fun games and activities available, this program seems boring. I like that it focuses on learning, but if your child needs fun and excitement while they are learning, they may find this lacking.

Overall it is a great program. I learned a few things by clicking through the patterns. If you want a no nonsense way for your child to learn to read, this would be perfect. Even though it is computer based, parental involvement would be needed to make sure your child is staying on task and really reading the words correctly. The best part of this program is that there is a FREE trial. Try it out and see if it would be a good fit for your child.

Click the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Crew Disclaimer

Halloween Over the Years

Halloween will be here soon. When AJ was little I didn’t ever have to worry about a costume for her. She would wear one of her princess dresses or put together a simple costume with one of her leotards. Last year was the first time I bought her a regular costume. She was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Since the costume still fits, I thought she would just wear it again. I guess as you get older that isn’t a fun thing to do. I don’t know what she will be this year. But, it got me thinking about how much she has really changed over the last few years.

Before 2007 I didn’t have a very good camera. I know she was Snow White one year, and I think she was Bell a few years in a row.

Here are a few pictures from her Halloween costumes from 2007 through 2015.

2007 – Princess Bell

Halloween 2007 - BellI believe that this was one of the years that we went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Back in those days we went to Disneyland every Thursday after she finished Gymnastics.

2008 – Minnie Mouse

Halloween 2008 - Minnie

She loved this dress, and wore it all of the time. In fact we purchased the same one twice until they no longer made it in her size.

2009 – Princess Aurora

This was one of her favorite dresses.

2010 – Pocahontas

2010 Halloween

AJ is actually a quarter Indian. She really liked that she could wear a costume that represented that.

2011 – Gymnast or Cheerleader

Cheerleader 2011

I don’t remember if she was a gymnast or cheerleader this year. I know that I was in a cast and couldn’t take her trick or treating so she just went to a few homes of people we knew. This picture wasn’t from Halloween, but from a cheerleading competition earlier in the year.

2012 – Butterfly


This was a quick and easy costume that only cost about $4. She loved it!

2013 – Cat

Halloween 2013

She planned to save the mask and tail for the next year, but they didn’t end up lasting.

2014 – Chaeta


This time she picked a chaeta. Again this was only about $6. It was nice when she had leotards lying around.

2015 – Dorothy

Halloween 2015

She didn’t have a leotard that fit anymore, so we had to pick something different. I think she looked adorable in this costume.

My baby has grown up. Now so many of the costumes that are available are too sexy. I am sure we will find her something that works, but I do miss the days when she was younger. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. What will your child be this year for Halloween?