Real Life Homeschooling – Fitting It All In

Today is day 2 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. (You can see day 1 here) I will be taking you through a typical homeschooling week at our house. This week we decided to do school Sunday through Wednesday. (This post is based on the week before Easter, because we are on Spring Break this week.)

Sundays are busy around here. It is our day that we do the major cleaning, so it is not the “best day” to do school, but we have to fit in school when we can. Here is how our day went.

My alarm went off at 8:30 and I woke AJ up about 9am. She didn’t want to get up until I reminded her that she had church that night and if her work wasn’t done (As long as she puts in a decent effort she can go, even if everything isn’t finished.) she couldn’t go to church.

Homeschooling in Real Life - Fitting it all in

From about 9 to 11 she got up, ate breakfast (eggs, toast, and an apple), took a shower, and made her bed. She moves so SLOWLY in the mornings sometimes. So slowly that it drives me nuts!

From 11 to about 1:30 we cleaned. The floors were swept and mopped, everything was dusted, and then……. Grandma woke up. She had a wet diaper so we changed her and made her some breakfast. I put a Shirley Temple movie on to occupy Grandma and then supervised as AJ vacuumed the house. Then it was time for lunch. Lunch was simple, a tuna sandwich, chips, pickles, and cucumber.

At about 2pm we started school. I was afraid we wouldn’t get much finished since church was at 5:45. We do the majority of her school work in the garage.

Normally, I would let AJ pick the order of the subjects for the day, but not today. Since we were in a time crunch I decided to start off with history. This week in history we are starting a new unit all about The Children of Israel. It covers quite a few books in the Bible, from Joshua to 1 Kings. Today on the schedule was reading the article, reading a few stories in the Action Bible, and reading a few major verses in her Bible.

Homeschooling in Real Life - History

We read the article and Bible verses together and then she read a few stories in the Action Bible.

The Action Bible - A great way to help kids understand the Bible.

After history was finished, she moved onto Bible. We are reviewing a Bible Study from Heidi St. John called; Firmly Planted The Gospels Part 1 Today we read the first part of Luke 1, and discussed it.

Firmly Planted Bible Study, Luke 1

Then she worked on the vocabulary section while I put dinner on. We need to get a better dictionary, because the one we have just isn’t cutting it any more. She had to use the computer to look up most of the words, and they were basic words.

Looking up words using

Next on the list was spelling. We are reviewing Spelling You See, and so far AJ loves it. I was concerned about the amount of writing at first, but she has been doing very well with it.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

First she reads it to me and then she chunks the words based on the vowels. After we go over the chunking, she copies the passage.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

Spelling only took about 15 minutes total. Today for some odd reason she decided to cooperate and get her work done in a timely manner.  After spelling we moved onto math.

Today’s math was in 2 parts. First she did some online math (more on that tomorrow) then she worked on her Key to Percent book. Today’s lesson was on finding percent by using what she already knew. She had to find  49% by finding both 50% and 1% and subtracting, or find 35% by adding up 25% and 10% of a number.

No need for paper, we do math on the whiteboard!

She worked her problems out on the whiteboard after I went over what she had to do. While she worked on math I folded some laundry and checked on Grandma. Then I checked Facebook and my email. A few minutes later I checked her math and she had them all correct. I love this math! Everything is step by step and she enjoys doing it.

The last major subject for the day was science. We are using Digital Science Online and are working on Weather. Today she watched the video all about weather in action and filled out a worksheet. She watched it alone while I went inside and put my foot up because I was hurting a lot.

Using Digital Science online to promote independence

When she finished science (about 25 minutes) she asked if she could do her literature at bed time. I decided we would try it and she did her PE. I had to add PE to the schedule because otherwise I tend to put it off so that she gets more book work done. In all honestly, if it wouldn’t have been on the schedule I would have skipped it. She loves to ride her bike though, and I think seeing it on the schedule actually makes her work harder.

After PE she watered the plants, and then it was time to eat a snack and go to church. She ended up finishing up everything except literature by 5:15. She says that she really likes the new schedule and if more days go like today, I will gladly take the extra time to schedule each week.

After church, at about 7:15, we ate dinner. Tonight was ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots. When it was time for her to do her literature, she gave a little attitude because she wanted to watch TV.

Working on independence in Home School

After a few minutes of moaning about how she could do it tomorrow, she went in and read her book and answered the questions. She actually ended up doing both Sunday’s and Monday’s work, because, “The book was just so interesting.” I don’t know who kidnapped my child and replaced her, but I am gladly keeping this one!

Each day is different and today everything seemed to work out well. AJ cooperated with her school work, Grandma willingly stayed out of trouble, and the house was cleaned. Most days are not this smooth, but I am thankful when days like today happen.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more blogs that are participating in the blog hop, check them out!

For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool


The Story of King Jesus – Giveaway

I love to find new children’s books that teach a message, and The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin looks like it will be a great book! It is the Gospel told in a single story designed for kids 4 to 8 years old. It has been vividly illustrated by Nick Lee, and from the looks of it, it will be a great book! The best part is that 4 people are going to win an autographed copy of the book!
The Story of King Jesus - Giveaway Ends 4-20
This giveaway is only open to US residents and will end on April 20, 2015. Enter below for your chance to win!

Thick as Thieves – A TOS Review

I don’t know about you, but I have a very reluctant reader. She reads well, but just doesn’t like it. If I give her a book with a lot of pictures or a non fiction book  she will read it with a fake smile, but if I give her a fiction book with no pictures at all, attitude is usually around the corner. This year I have been focusing on her reading. She has read a lot of different types of books, and I have noticed that the ones that keep her interest the most have a strong, believable, young girl as the main character. I was thrilled when we were given the opportunity to review a wonderful book, Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow. Thick as Thieves is the first book in a new series, Circle C Milestones. After reading about the book, I thought it would be the perfect fit for AJ.

Full of suspense, wonder, and excitement. We stayed up until 3am because we couldn't put this book down!

About the Book

The Circle C Milestones series takes readers on an adventure with fourteen year old Andrea Carter (known as Andi) who is growing up in California in the 1800’s. The book opens with Andi worrying about her horse, Taffy, who is going through her first foaling. Andi is in that awkward stage where she isn’t a little girl any more, but where she isn’t old enough for anyone to take her seriously. After some scary stuff happens, that keeps you on the edge of your seat,  Andi has to return to school instead of being able to stay with her horse.

When school starts more drama and conflict occurs as a new girl, Macy, comes to school. Macy is dirty, smelly, and full of secrets. As Andi’s luck would have it, Macy ends up as her new seat mate.

Just when things start to settle down, cattle rustlers start stealing horses. When Andi’s family’s ranch is hit, suspense and adventure fill the story. Will Andi’s family get their horses back? Will Andi make it through the school year sitting by the crude Macy? Throw in a few plot twists, and you may be surprised by the ending. I sure was.

Thick as Thieves is a 173 page soft covered book that is broken down into 26 chapters. It is recommended for kids ages 12 and up.

Free 40 page Study Guide. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more

To go along with the book there is a free downloadable study guide. The study guide is 40 pages long. It covers vocabulary and comprehension questions like most study guides, but it goes much deeper. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more. There are even fun sections that teach a little more about life in the 1880’s.

The study guide is recommended to be used one of two ways. It can be used after reading a number of chapters or you can read the entire book and then come back and do it.

How We Used It

This book arrived the day we finished up our previous novel study. My plan was to print out the study guide and have AJ start reading the book the next day. That didn’t happen. When the book arrived in the mail she read the back and wanted to start reading it that night! When she asks to read, I don’t usually say, “no.” We did a little bit of shared reading (I read a page then she reads a page) and stopped after a few chapters. She did the study guide the next day and we read some more. We did that for the first two days, but then we decided to wait and do the study guide at the end of the book. The book was just too exciting to put down. On the third day we stayed up until three in the morning because she had to find out what was going to happen. We still had a few chapters left, so we finished up the next morning.

The problem came when she went to work on the study guide. She couldn’t remember what happened in each chapter. She knew how both Andi and Macy had changed had grown, but she couldn’t remember what part of the book things happened in. We decided to skip the comprehension questions and just did the fun activities that went along with the book.

If I were to do another study guide with one of Susan K. Marlow’s books I would do it a little differently. I would have AJ do the vocabulary section before she started the book so that she would be more familiar with it. Then I would make sure to at least ask the comprehension questions after each set of chapters. The rest of the study guide we would do after the book was finished. The study guide is amazing! It is well put together and a wonderful resource. I really wish we would have utilized it better.

What We Thought

We loved this book! It was full of fun, adventure, suspense, and wonderful character traits. Andi is not perfect, and I think AJ really understood her. AJ was so into the book that a few times in the beginning she said, “Andi just needs to punch that Macy!” Both of the characters were so deep and interesting. The theme of the book is friendship, and it really shines through. There are biblical values intertwined throughout the book, but it is done in a way that doesn’t come across as preachy.

This was the first book that either of us had read from this author and we were plesently surprised. She has a wonderful writing style and we can’t wait to read more of her books about Andi. There are two other series about Andi; Circle C Beginnings (for ages 6-9) and Circle C Adventures (for ages 9-14) and AJ wants to read them all! We have the Circle C Beginnings set on order at the library and we can’t wait until it comes in.

Any book that can spark AJ’s interest in reading is a win in my book. I would recommend it whole heartedly!

Click the banner below to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about the book.

Koru Naturals Review


Easter Stories – Review

Easter Stories - An Amazing collection of stories perfect for the Easter season

I can’t believe how fast this year is going by! Easter is just around the corner, and I was given the opportunity to review the perfect addition to our Easter celebrations, Easter Stories – Classic Tales for the Holy Season. It is a 370 page soft cover book full of wonderful stories by numerous authors.

About the book

A treasury of read-aloud tales selected for their spiritual value and literary integrity. Everyone who believes Easter is about more than Easter egg hunts will be grateful for this new anthology of short stories that illumine the true meaning of the season. Selected for their spiritual value and literary quality, these classic tales capture the spirit of Holy Week and Easter in a way that will captivate readers of all ages. Parents and grandparents will find that children love to hear these stories read aloud year after year.

This amazing book has 27 short stories from many different authors. Some of those talented authors include; C. S. Lewis (one of my favorite authors), Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, Elizabeth Goudge and many more.

Easter Stories - Review and Giveaway

What We Thought

The variety of stories (and a poem) filled with moral lessons and values makes this the perfect book for Easter time. The stories are short enough to listen to after dinner, but long enough for great family time. We haven’t read all of them yet, but the many that we have, AJ has loved. It has introduced both AJ and myself to many new authors.

If you have read many of my reviews, you know I usually love or hate books, and this one I LOVE. I think it will be one book that stays on our bookshelf year round. While it is perfect for Easter time, I can see us enjoying these stories  any time of year.

The best part? I am able to offer a giveaway! One reader will receive a copy of the book Easter Stories.  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Open to US and Canada only.

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Esther – A Book Review



I love to read exciting stories about strong women, and when they are based on real people that is even better! I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book by New York Times Bestselling Author Angela Hunt, Esther Royal Beauty. It is the first part of a series of books known as Dangerous Beauties.

Esther: Royal Beauty (Dangerous Beauty Series #1)About the Book

When Xerxes, King of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews- young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian Law, she risks her life in order to save her people… and bund her husband’s heart.

Esther Royal Beauty is a soft covered historical fiction novel that is 337 pages long. The novel is based on the Biblical story of Ester and the author, Angela Hunt, has taken great lengths to ensure historical accuracy of the book.

What I thought

I love the idea of the book and I was expecting an amazing story. I picked it up and started to read, and I just couldn’t get into it. At first I was confused. The book is written in a first person perspective, but it is told from the perspective of two characters, Hadassah (Esther), and Harbonah (one of the King’s eunuchs). It took me by surprise that the first and second chapter contradicted each other and were telling part of the same story. After a few minutes I realized that the second chapter was being told by a different person. After flipping through the rest of the book I realized that at the beginning of each chapter the name of who was telling the story was the name of the chapter. Unfortunately, I found this set up difficult to follow.

I liked to see the different perspectives of the characters, but I personally would have preferred the story to have been just told in third person, or to have stuck to one character’s perspective. The book was full of rich historical accuracy, but I found parts to be boring and too detailed.

The book did become more interesting about halfway through, but it wasn’t something that I found enjoyable to read.

To be fair though, this genera is not what I typically read. Books and movies are funny that way, some people love them and others hate them. I did not hate this book, but it is not one I personally enjoyed.

If you enjoy a book where you get to see the story from different points of view, a book full of rich historical detail, with a strong female lead, a little romance, and a bit of suspense, then this might be the perfect book for you.



World History Detective – Review

History is one of those subjects that I hated in school, so I am always on the look out for products that can bring history to life for AJ. When I was given the chance to review World History Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. I was excited. I have always heard wonderful things about The Critical Thinking Co. and this book did not disappoint!

World History Detective Book 1


About the Book

World History Detective Book 1 is a soft covered 362 page work text for students in grades six to twelve. It is broken up into 78 lessons covering Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Early American History. In the beginning of the book there is a three page teacher overview that explains the type of questions included and why each question type is important. There is a full answer key at the back of the book so everything is right at your fingertips. This book can be used as a stand alone history text, or as a supplement or review for older students.

Each lesson follows a similar layout. There is about a page to a page and a half of reading, followed by about nine questions. The first questions are a mixture of; multiple choice, true/false, fact or opinion, and chronological order questions. Then there are one or two written response questions. The final page of the lesson is a concept map where students are asked to fill in the blank spaces from a word box.

Concept Map

What makes this book unique, is that for almost every question the student is required to give the sentence number where they found their answer.

In addition to the physical book, there is also a website listed in the book where you can download and print off review lessons to use after a group of lessons have been completed.

How We Used It

We are currently studying Ancient Civilizations, and we were planning on using this book as a supplement. After a few lessons, I realized that would be too much reading for AJ, so we put our other studies to the side and focused on this book.

We decided to break each lesson up into two days, mainly because AJ is a slow reader. The reading level wasn’t too hard, but reading so closely was new to her. On the first day she would read through the lesson and look at any maps or time-lines. Then she would do the concept map. The concept map was her favorite part and really helped me to know if she understood her lesson or not. After working on the concept map she would go back and answer the first nine questions. She was able to answer the questions fairly easily. Finding the sentence that supported her answer was a little more difficult for her. In the beginning I would tell her what paragraph she needed to look in. After a few lessons she started to be able to find the supporting sentence on her own most of the time.

On the second day she would reread through the lesson and then answer the written response question. The first day usually took her about 45 minutes and the second day took about 30 minutes. While the first set of questions was fairly straight forward and could be found in the text, the written response required some more thought. Here is an example from lesson 6 on the Babylonian Empire.

What were the two greatest contributions the Babylonians made to future civilizations? Explain how each contribution benefited future civilizations. Please use complete sentences to answer the question.

Often AJ would use the concept map to help her answer the written response question.

Maps and Questions to make you think.

What We Thought

Overall we really liked the book. It taught way more that just history. It taught thinking skills, it helped with her reading, and problem solving skills. There were a few things that we didn’t care for. In the beginning AJ had a hard time writing in the book because it is so thick. When she tried to write on the pages on the left she had to hold the book funny to be able to write in it. The pages are perforated and can be taken out, but we decided to keep them together. The other thing that AJ didn’t care for was the small writing space on the concept maps. AJ writes fairly large and had a little difficulty fitting in the words. That being said, I don’t think most 6th graders would find the spaces too small. The only other issue we had was that there were two lessons in the Prehistory section that went against our beliefs. It was simple to just skip those two lessons and be on our way.

While there were a few things that we didn’t like, there was a lot we did like. I loved that the questions forced AJ to read very closely, not just skim to try and find the answer. AJ loved the concept map! Seeing all of the concepts broken down really helped her to understand the big picture. In fact we have started using concept maps in other subjects since they helped her so much. I think AJ’s favorite part was that there wasn’t a lot of writing. There were only one or two questions in each lesson that required her to write. The maps and time-lines helped a lot. They really helped her to visualize what was going on. The lessons were full of details and AJ learned way more than I was expecting. We plan to continue to use World History Detective Book 1 as a supplement to our history unit study. It was a great addition to our homeschool, and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a easy to follow program that is fairly independent and makes kids think.

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The Crew was able to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co.  check out their reviews too!

Critical Thinking Company Review

No Longer A Slumdog – Book Review

I don’t know about you, but when ever I see the commercials on TV about the little children who need help, my heart aches. It is hard to believe that there is so much suffering in the world with everything we have available today. When I was given the opportunity to review the book, No Longer A Slumdog by K.P. Yohannan, I had mixed feelings. The book sounded great, but I didn’t know if I really wanted to read about all of the hurt going on on the other side of the world. After thinking about it, I decided that if others could live it, I could read it. And I am glad that I did. It was eye-opening.

No Longer A Slumdog

About the Book

Those with no voice – the suffering children of Asia- tell their stories. And as you listen to them, you share their anguish and rejoice in their triumphs. The whole world seems to stop as you look on.

Hope is growing in the hearts of those who never knew such a thing existed. In this truly gripping narrative, K.P. Yohannan shares their stories – stories of lives transformed, of families learning to love, of entire communities flourishing with new life. Witness as this next great wave of transformation sweeps the nation.

It is a soft cover book that is 139 pages long. The most amazing part is that EVERYONE can request a free (donations are appreciated) copy of the book.

The book tells about some of the issues that the children in Asia face. It then goes into detail about how the Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope has changed numerous families through their program. They help not only with tangible items, but by sharing all about God’s love for them. The book ends by telling how you can help. They ask for prayer and for you to sponsor a child through their organization for $35 a month.

What I Thought

I like the story behind the book. The GFA Bridge of Hope sounds like it is doing amazing things for the slums of Asia. The hardships and horrible things the families go through are wrong! This book does a great job of showing what life is like for those who are less fortunate. It really makes you thankful for what you have.

It is written mainly in order to gain sponsorships for children, and at times the book comes off as an infomercial trying to get you to give money. It even goes as far as to tell how others have given up things like, daily coffee, and better cable in order to be able to afford to sponsor a child. I agree that these kids need help, and that they need to know Jesus, but I think that giving should come from the heart. If nothing else, this book gives a great look at Asia, and the amazing things that GFA Bridge of Hope is doing.

Learn more about the organization and decide for yourself.

No Longer A Slumdog

The Action Bible – Review

affiliate1I have a reluctant reader, or maybe a stubborn reader would be a better term. AJ is 11 and in 6th grade, she reads well- when she wants to. One thing I have learned is that she needs pictures. She needs a way to visualize what is going on in the story. If there are pictures she may read the same book over and over.
The Action Bible - A way to bring the Bible to life. My Review

One book that doesn’t have pictures is her Bible. We are still reading it almost daily and she is learning a lot, but she has said more than once that she wished it had some pictures. When I was offered the opportunity to review The Action Bible I was thrilled! I thought it would be an amazing tool for her, and I was right!

About The Action Bible

The Action Bible includes over 200 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easy to follow the Bible’s historical flow – and reinforcing the buildup to its thrilling climax.

The stories in The Action Bible communicate biblical truth clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries.

Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world’s most awesome story.


The Action Bible is a hardback, full color, 750 page book. It is NOT a regular Bible and doesn’t contain all of the chapters that a regular Bible has. It is a Bible in comic book form. The book is full of imperfect human action heroes that God chose to fulfil His divine plan.

The Action Bible - A great way to bring the Bible to life! My Review

How We Used It

Whenever I am reviewing a book I always put it up until I am going to have AJ (or myself) read it. That way it doesn’t get lost. I had The Action Bible sitting on the desk because I wasn’t ready to look at it yet, and the next thing I knew it was gone and so was AJ. I found it and AJ at the same time. She had taken it to read. I found her laying in her bed reading away. She told me it was, “too exciting to put down.” She read through all of the stories that we have been studying from Genesis and Exodus and then read even more. The first night she read it for quite a while. She was reading it with excitement making up voices for the different Bible characters. There were a few moments where she said, “Oh so that is what it meant.”

AJ has been reading The Action Bible often, in fact it has become her new favorite book to read at bedtime.

What we thought

The pictures in this book are amazing. They are vivid, lifelike, and contain stunning detail. If you purchase this book expecting a normal Bible you will be disappointed. Chapters are left out and a few things are out of order. The story of Job came after the Tower of Babble. What I loved was the table of contents, it is broken into little subtopics. You can look up Moses, for example, and find where all of the stories about him are located. At the beginning of each story it gives the place in the Bible that the story is based on.

This book really brings the Bible to life. It doesn’t just tell the stories but shows them as well. Along with the dialog of the characters, there are often Bible verses included in each frame.

Action Bible1

We loved it! I am thrilled with any book that gets AJ to want to read, but this is even better because it helps her to get closer to God. I wouldn’t recommend it as your only Bible, but it is a great supplemental Bible. I think it will really help your child to understand the Bible in a fun way.

The only issue I had with the Bible is that a few of the front pages are loose and falling out. It looks like maybe they weren’t bound correctly. It isn’t too bad, but if I had purchased it I would have exchanged it for a new one. The ones I looked at in the store seemed fine so I think my issue was more than likely a fluke.

The Action Bible has a suggested retail value of $ 26.99, but it is currently on sale for $13.49.

Family Christian has offered one of my readers a chance to win a $25 appreciation certificate. Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!


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Growing Your Faith – 7th Grade Devotional (Review)


affiliate1*This is a sponsored post, I was compensated in some way for writing it*

This year has been a  breakthrough  year with our Bible study. AJ seems to really be getting it, she enjoys reading the Bible and as we go through the books of the Law she is learning so much. What we are lacking though is a more personal study. It is important to learn Bible history, but we need to add in a character study as well. I wanted something that would help her grow closer to God. Enter the new 30-Day Devotional 7th Grade Growing Your Faith by Lars Rood. AJ is only in 6th grade, but I thought it would still be a good fit. (At the time of this review the book is not yet available online, check your local store)

7th Grade Growing Your Faith - Review

About the Book

This fun 30-day devotional will guide you through some of the biggest changes and challenges of this year, including handling doubt, dealing with all the physical changes, making choices that will build your friendship with Jesus and being smart about what you see and hear and say.

Whether this is your first year of junior high or you’re already trekking through middle school. 7th Grade Growing Your Faith will give you some solid wisdom and advice, along with lots of truths to think about and lots of ideas to put into action.

7th Grade Growing Your Faith is a 72 page soft cover book broken into 30 different devotions. The book is broken into three sections.

  1. Owning Your Faith, Shaping Your Faith – These first ten devotions focus on a few different topics including; why reading the Bible is important, getting closer to Jesus, and having fun while following Jesus.
  2. Maturing in Mind, Shaping Your Thoughts – This second section is my favorite. It covers topics that really make you think. Topics include what is worth watching, listing to, and saying. It covers how to Follow Jesus at school, and how to find a good role model.
  3. Maturing in Body Shaping the Whole You – These final ten devotions wrap up the book and include topics like; talking to your parents, dealing with loneliness, shaping your future, and figuring out the other gender.

Each devotion is broken up the same way in four short sections.

  • Introduction – In this short section the author talks a little bit about his personal experience regarding the topic.  It is between a couple of paragraphs and a page long, usually including a short story from the author’s youth about the topic. These are very interesting and actually help to break the ice when it comes to the more difficult topics.
  • Think About – This section has 3 or 4 questions to think about (and in our case discuss). I love this section because the questions are simple yet thought provoking. You aren’t told this is right and that is wrong, you are asked to think about what you feel. One that really stuck out to me was, “If God has created you with a purpose (and He has), how do you feel about God when you are Lonely?” (page 59)
  • God Thought – This section turns you to the Bible. It may have you read a few verses, a chapter, or even an entire book of the Bible. Then there is a question to think about regarding what you read.
  • Activate – This final section varies in its approach. Some tasks include; talking to people about things, writing lists, or doing something active. Some of these we liked, others we didn’t care for.

How We Used It

AJ isn’t big on reading any book without pictures, so I decided to use the 7th Grade Growing Your Faith in place of our current Bible curriculum. We read the introduction, and then talked about the think about questions. They lead to a few interesting conversations. One question asked how she saw an adult in her life living out their faith. So I asked her to think about me and what I do. Her answer was, “Well you show that you’re a Christian because you are always buying things from the Christian store.” After a little prompting she thought of a few other ways I live my faith!

7th Grade Growing Your Faith

Then she would look up the section in the Bible we were to read, and we would discuss it. Finally we would talk about the Activate section. A few we just discussed. Some we skipped, and some she did as directed. Each devotion took between 45 minutes to and hour. I read the entire book, but AJ still has a little way to go. We plan on finishing the devotional throughout the rest of the school year. The book is very flexible. It can be used independently or with a group. You can do one devotion a day, or even do one a month. It is a great resource to get your (pre) teen closer to God.

What We Thought

7th Grade Growing Your Faith

Overall we really enjoyed the 7th Grade Growing Your Faith 30-day devotional. The lessons are relevant, short enough to fit into our day, and easy to read. The writing style is friendly and fun making each day interesting. Having a male author, I was a little worried how he would be able to relate to young girls. He did so seamlessly.

A few of the lessons didn’t really apply to AJ because she is homeschooled, but even those that didn’t were useful in one way or another. AJ LOVED the fact that there was little to no writing. I enjoyed the meaningful discussions and most importantly the Bible verses to back up the discussions.

The only thing we didn’t care for were some of the activities in the Activate section. They just didn’t fit with our life, but it was simple to skip the ones we didn’t like. The author has made devotions for other grades, and although I haven’t read those, I would recommend getting the book that goes with the grade your child is currently in. A few of the lessons are really tied in to the grade level.

The devotional is very affordable, only $6.99 and in my opinion it is well worth it.

Using Ancient Civilizations and the Bible? – Learn from My Mistakes!


This year we are studying Ancient History using Diana Waring’s Ancient Civilizations and the BibleThe beginning was a little rocky, but now that we have a system down it is amazing how much we are both learning. It is not your normal history study and I think that is exactly why AJ and I are enjoying it so much!

6 mistakes to avoid When using Ancient Civiliztions and the Bible

Before I get into the details let me explain a little bit about the curriculum. It is a chronological history program that appeals to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. It is a Christian worldview and teaches history from the young earth perspective. (If you don’t agree with young earth it is easy to leave out a few things in the first unit and from then on it is not really mentioned) It is not a textbook but a guide to help you and your student learn about history. There is a teacher’s book, a student book, and three different CDs that are referenced throughout the book.

The book is divided into nine chapters.

  1. Creation and The Flood
  2. The Rise of Civilizations
  3. Egypt and the Exodus
  4. The Children of Israel
  5. Assyria and Babylon : The Mesopotamian Conquerors
  6. The Persians and Medes
  7. Greece and The Hellenists
  8. The Rise of Rome
  9. Jesus Christ, Immanuel

Each chapter is studied for four weeks. Week one is the Introduction. It includes things like listening to audio recordings, reading the article, reading verses in the Bible, and discussions. Week two is Exploration and Discovery. In the second week activities include; vocabulary, timelines, and researching a topic of choice. The third week is Hands-On. In the third week there is mapping, art projects, science experiments, cooking, and music suggestions. The final week, week four is Expression. The final week can really be almost anything that shows understanding of the unit. Some possibilities include; art, music, drama, poetry, dance, and even puppetry. Each week there are a variety of options to fit the student’s learning style.

Even though there are only nine units, there is a great deal of information to learn. AJ and I fell in love with this history program at the beginning of the school year, but I wanted to wait until we had completed a few units until I shared my thoughts.

The first unit was full of learning for both of us. In fact it took us a good six weeks to complete. AJ learned all about creation and the flood, and I learned that using a unit study format for history would require some different thinking and planning on my part.

Here are a few pieces of advice, if you are using or thinking about starting Diana Waring’s  Ancient Civilizations and the Bible.

Stick to the four week schedule

Before school started I went through the first four units and planned things to a tee. I had decided that since we were doing unit studies for both history and science (more on that in an upcoming post) that I didn’t want to do both subjects daily. I decided that we would do science one week and history the next and rotate them back and forth. In order to do that I would simply push two weeks of learning into one. It sounded easy enough, we would just work longer on the one subject and in the end it would all average out. The time was the same and on paper it looked great. In reality it didn’t work out very well.

Week one has a lot of reading and listening. The articles themselves are between eight to ten pages and then when you add in the Bible reading it can be a lot. For the first unit it is 10 chapters in the Bible and more than 20 additional verses. Spread out over two days the reading is completely doable, but squishing it into one in order to complete two weeks of work into one is hard. It made for a grumpy kid, and a frustrated teacher.

In the end we actually spent three weeks doing the work for weeks one and two because it took way longer than I anticipated. If you need to combine weeks, don’t combine weeks one and two, it is just too much work. In the book Diana gives a few different suggestions on what to do if you don’t want to or can’t spend four weeks on a unit. My advice, stick to the four week schedule if possible. It is set up nicely and if you follow the recommendations in the book the days run a lot smoother!

Don’t over plan

Like I said previously, I planned the first unit to a tee. AJ was going to make a game one day, write a poem on another day, and carve an animal out of soap at another time. I figured it was a good variety and she would have fun. The problem was that she had her own ideas. After the reading for week one there is a list of activities to do to show your understanding, and at the bottom of the list is the option to make up your own choice. To be honest, her idea was better than mine. She didn’t want to make a game, she wanted to make a power point presentation. My child who hates to write created a 10 page slide show all about creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and the flood.  It turned out great!

Week two has a research project where your child researches a topic in greater detail. There is a large list of topics to choose from. In order to make things easier, I picked the topic that I thought AJ would like to learn about. I ordered books from the library ahead of time and had everything planned.  Again, she would have picked another topic. My advice is to look ahead to the next unit when you are on week 4 of your current unit. (Or week 3 if you have a slow library.) Have your child pick two or three of the topics that they might want to learn more about and order books from the library on those topics. Then you end up with a variety and when it comes time for the research topic you will be ready. Let your child lead and you may be surprised by what you both learn.

You don’t have to do it all

 This advice is really for any type of unit study, and it is hard if you are a box checker. It is ok to skip a few things if you don’t have the time or desire. Try not to skip the fun stuff too often though because that is what makes this program amazing! Take a look at each week and pick one or two things that you really want to accomplish and go from there.

Don’t worry about the recommended books

It can be hard to find books with a Christian world view at the library, and purchasing all of the recommended books would cost way too much. If you can’t find the recommended books, it is ok. Utilize the internet and even secular materials found at the library. Just search for the topics you need and make sure your child knows that the books may display different beliefs than your own.

Buy the CDs

We didn’t buy the CDs that go along with the curriculum in the beginning. We were on a tight budget and the books were all that we could afford. For the first two units we didn’t have the CDs, but thankfully a family member bought us the main CD as a gift in time for unit three. We got through the first two units fine without the CD, but it really adds so much more information and completes the study. The information on the CDs is different from the information in the book and helps to answer some of the questions. Currently we only have one of the CDs, but I hope to complete the set soon. If at all possible, buy the CDs they really add to the study.

Join the Yahoo Group

There is a Yahoo Group for Diana Waring’s History Revealed series. There you will find so many resources like answer keys for the maps, printable maps, and vocabulary worksheets, and timeline answer keys. This group was a life saver when it came to the mapping. It also has a lot of great ideas about the curriculum.

Ancient Civilizations and the Bible is an amazing history program. We are both learning so much and having fun along the way. I can’t wait to share more of our adventures with the program!