Mar 21, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Zirrly

This review was nothing but fun. Zirrly sent us their Mega Pack of Super Beads and we have played and played. 

Super Beads Mega Pack

We received a bag of over 4,000 fuse beads, 4 design templates (there were five cards for each design), 2 spray bottles, 4 design boards, a design tool and instructions. 

This product is perfect for craft loving kids! These fuse beads are not your traditional beads. They are soft and made of magic! Well, maybe not magic, but you don't have to iron them together. They fuse together with water! We were amazed at how simple and easy it was. 

The template card goes under the design board. 


The beads are placed on the board by matching the colors. When all the beads are on, you use the spray bottle to water the beads and make them fuse together. Then comes the hard part... waiting for it to dry! Once it is completely dry, use the design tool to gently peel it off the board. 


And there you go!


If you didn't wait long enough, and your creation falls apart, it's ok. Just spray it again with water and let it dry again. 

My kids, aged 11 and 12, were able to figure this out entirely on their own. We don't know why there were so many different cards for each design because the kids were easily able to reuse the cards. Maybe whoever made that executive decision came from a big family and didn't like to share? At any rate, the kids quickly branched off from the templates. They mixed up the colors from the templates and then they just created their own designs. 

Abbie made a present,


and a butterfly.


Daniel made a Frokey.


Our four year old friend was able to successfully create his own turtle under the casual supervision of the kids. Although he did get bored/ tired before it was completed and Abbie finished it for him, it was an excellent way for him to practice color-matching, one-to-one correspondence, fine motor control, following instructions, and patience. 


The kids say...

Daniel: It's really easy to do. You can make a lot of different stuff. It's the most fun I ever had with beads in my life. I wish we had more designs and fewer cards of the same design. 

Abbie: It's fun and creative! I like not having to wait for them to be ironed, I can just spray them myself and let them dry. If we had to wait for you to iron them, we wouldn't have them. I wish they had put the colors in individual packages so it was easier to find them. I also like that you can put all the boards together and make one big board to work on!

We all highly recommend Zirrly! It is a fun and creative product with so much educational value. We loved the Mega Pack with all its possibilities, but the single products look great, too, especially the 3D ones! Other Crew members reviewed these other products, so check them out by clicking on the banner below!

Super Beads {Zirrly Reviews}
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Mar 20, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Home School in the Woods

My kids are not history buffs, so I have to work extra hard to engage them in learning about any sort of history. Home School in the Woods is my greatest ally in this effort. We have used many of their products over the years to supplement our studies. For this review, we were able to choose one of their A La Carte products, High and Dry File Folder Game.
Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

These products are games, creative writing projects, timeline pieces, and authentic craft projects that are great supplements to any history program. A lot of them come with bigger sets, but it's cool and fun that you can now buy them individually.

This game came as a PDF download, so I was able to access it immediately. It took me a few minutes to print all the game pieces and then the kids and I quickly cut out the cards. I folded and taped the little ships while the kids that color colored in the game board.


High and Dry is a four person game, simply because there are only four ships. 

The game required that we find a dice, although there are instructions for variations of game play where you don't need one. Because I read the instructions in a hurry, our first game was actually a weird combination of the dice and the no dice variations. I feel like this made the game play quicker as well as adding some strategy to the game, so it's a valid way to play.


The instructions for game play were simple and we were playing as soon as we had the pieces ready. Our first game took us about fifteen to twenty minutes to play and we made it through almost half the deck of questions. 

Because the kids were all playing, I read the cards to them instead of having them choose a reader like the instructions said. In our first few rounds of the game, I gave them a lot of credit for partial answers and then tightened up requirements as they became more knowledgeable about nautical vocabulary, terminology and old sea sayings. It occurred to me as we played that it would be fairly simple to add another set of cards including specific history questions that pertain to seafaring, exploring, and voyages from different time periods as we studied them. 
But even without that, this game was a fun way to engage the kids in learning about nautical terms, seafaring vocabulary, and expressions that derived from the sailor way of life. 
We have used several products from Home School in the Woods over the years, a couple Project Passports, an Activity Pak, and I even bought the entire Timeline set. I highly recommend everything we have used. If your kids love history, they will love these products. Hey, mine don't even like history and they love these products! 
If you are unsure, the A La Carte products are a great way to go because they give you a taste of what it is like for just a few dollars. 
Other Crew members have reviewed other A La Carte products like The Art Gallery File Folder GameThe Jamestown Replica, and The Art of Quilling

À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
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Mar 16, 2018

Spring Break

When my kids were little, they did not know Spring Break existed. I had no desire to take a random week off in the middle of March so I never mentioned it to them. We usually had the end of our school year in sight. Plus, we had a schedule of three months on and one month off. Our last month off was April, so there was no need to give up an extra week in March as well.

However, my kids got bigger. They made friends. Friends who either went to a traditional school or followed a traditional schedule. This made our fun/crazy schedule unsustainable. So we switched. Then they started Youth Group. And this year, they older three (who go to Youth Group) developed a strong need to go on a Mission Trip over Spring Break.

So, for the first time ever, I think, we took off a week in March. The big three went off to tell little kids about Jesus. And Abbie spent seven days with her BFF, trying to take over the world.

This was the first time they had all been gone at the same time for longer than one overnight. It was super weird to be childless for a week. Sometimes it was fun, but boy was it quiet! And boy were the dogs bored!

It was a busy week for us all. But I sure am glad they are all back home!

Mar 13, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Taming the Lecture Bug

It really doesn't matter how long you have been a parent, you can always use some helpful advice and a fresh perspective. I have been a parent for awhile, but parenting teens is relatively new territory for me, so I was interested in reading through the book Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think from Parenting Made Practical.

Being a parent is hard. Falling into the habit of lecturing is easy. When I stop and think about it, I believe that I have four great kids, but it feels like I spend most of my day reminding, nagging, and lecturing. I looked to this book for tips on how to help me parent differently. 

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book

Taming the Lecture Bug was written by Joey and Carla Link. With their combined careers of ministry and social work, they offer a unique look at parenting. 

There are 12 chapters in the book, covering the issues of: too much lecturing; how kids need to think, why they don't, and what parents do to keep them from thinking; selfishness; stubbornness; helping your child escape temptation; how to use questions; and responsibility. The main point of the book is that your children can and should take responsibility for chores, grades, obedience and just life in general. The book explains the need for this and how you, the parent, can stop enabling your kids and help them take that responsibility. Not with nagging and lecturing, which doesn't work, but with calm and certain consequences that force the burden of choice onto the child.

Taming the Lecture Bug was a quick and easy read. Joey and Carla trade off explaining their methods and ideas, using stories of raising their own three children to illustrate their principles. Each chapter ends with a personal testimony of various parents who have a success story based on the information in that chapter. 

The thing about kids, especially teens and tweens, is their effortless ability to draw the parent into arguments and negotiations about the topic at hand. Joey and Carla give parents practical tools to keep themselves out of these discussions and keep the issue at the forefront. 

I was also sent a copy of the DVD Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think. This DVD is a lecture version of the book. It is Joey and Carla explaining in person the art of asking questions instead of lecturing your kids. Their daughter Amy is also in the video, helping to illustrate and give examples. The DVD is not just a copy of the book, it is more a presentation of the method and gives you a closer glimpse of their personalities and their heart for families. I felt it was a great companion to the book, but it could definitely stand alone if you prefer video to reading. A fun addition was a brief explanation of the four basic temperaments. 

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think DVD

I gleaned a lot of practical ideas and tips from Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think . It helps to shift the burden of responsibility to my kids and to simply expect them to fulfill their obligations without excuses. I have always leaned toward asking my kids questions and I appreciate the step-by-step practical tools toward leading my kids to acknowledging their obligation/ wrongdoing/ and then accepting the consequences and repentance.

Also, I did appreciate that they point out that lecturing does, indeed make the parent feel better and that Carla did sometimes tell her kids "I have a lecture in me and you are going to hear it." Because there are indeed times that I just need to speak my mind. 

I would definitely recommend this book to young, new parents and to parents of older children who are tired of nagging and lecturing and just want some ideas on how to change the dynamic of their family. 

The Crew reviewed several different products from Parenting Made Practical, click on the banner below to read their thoughts!

Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}
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Mar 7, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: CursiveLogic

Nate and I have been working on a review from CursiveLogic. We received the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and the Art of Cursive

CursiveLogic teaches kids how to write cursive in an unique and unusual way. I have messed around with a lot of handwriting programs over the years and have never seen anything like this method before. 

In order to understand the method so I could properly teach it, I first needed to watch a webinar. This was hosted on Vimeo and I was given access to it for 12 months. This meant I could watch it all the way through, get started on the course with my son, and then refer back to various sections as needed. The webinar lasts 48 minutes. It explained step-by-step exactly how the program worked and what I, the teacher, needed to do.

The webinar is one-half of the Quick-Start Pack. The other half is a consumable workbook. These two things are all you need to complete the 10 week course. 

Cursive Logic New Edition

The book speaks directly to the student. It starts with all the basics: how to sit, how to hold your pencil, how to control your pressure, and what the student can expect from and will be required to do by the program.

On page 9, the student writes for the first time.


The difference between CursiveLogic and other programs is that CursiveLogic does not require your child to rote memorize letters. Instead, it teaches cursive by grouping the letters into one of four common shapes. This enables your student to learn using muscle memory. CursiveLogic teaches each group in "strings", so your student will be connecting letters right from the start and writing real words the first week of the program. 

Each string is color coded to engage the child visually and aid their memories. 

Finally, this method uses movement, verbal, auditory and visual tools to appeal to all the learning styles.

Nate and I sat down together and quickly reviewed the first eight pages. This is mostly stuff he had been taught before but a refresher was necessary to correct some bad habits he has developed over the years.

He filled out page 9 and then we got started in earnest. The program uses catch-phrases, tracing, and an emphasis on doing it correctly each and every time in order to engage muscle memory. 

On the first day, Nate traced the first shape, wrote the first shape, and traced the letter string. 


There was a lot of work to do on the first day, but after that it got easier. On day 2, he did only three pages. He traced, wrote and practiced the letter string. On day 3 he worked on midline connections. On day 4 he traced and wrote real words. This was the end of the First Lesson. 

The other lessons follow the same pattern, teaching the rest of the letter strings. 

After the student has learned all 26 letters, he flips the book over and learns capital cursive letters. 
In the very back of the book are dry erase pages for practice. We also used our white board so he could practice writing and tracing large letters to help with his muscle memory as suggested in the webinar. 


This method did not have him jumping for joy or begging for more. It hasn't corrected years of bad handwriting overnight. However, it is quick and painless enough that he is willing to go through the day's lesson without complaining. He has even mentioned that it is "interesting" (high praise from a teenage boy who is allergic to handwriting!) and that he feels it is slowly helping him write more legibly. 

The Art of Cursive Logic

The Art of Cursive book is for use after the student has completed the course. It is a beautiful book with adult coloring book style pictures to color and lovely quotes to copy. 


I wish I had had this method when I originally taught all of my kids how to write in cursive! I highly recommend it!

The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}
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Septimus: The World War I Flying Ace

Septimus spends an inordinate amount of time on this table. I think he likes it because it makes him taller. But he could have a lot more imaginative reasons than that.

If he were a Beagle and the table were a doghouse, we would call him Snoopy.



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