History on Horseback ~ a Crew book review

History on Horseback_ The Early Years_ 1493 to 1886

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I find as I get older that I enjoy reading non-fiction history books more and more. I still enjoy historical fiction but the non-fiction is something that I am more drawn to. History on Horseback: The Early Years is one that really caught my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Sonrise Stable Books publishes this softback book written by Vicki Watson.


The premise of this particular style of storytelling is “what if horses could talk? What would they tell us about history?” Vicki Watson found this idea fascinating and explored it, just like we try to encourage our students to do. And what she found was the makings of a unique history book – one that tells the story of America through the animals, particularly horses, mules, and donkeys.

History on Horseback: The Early Years: 1493 to 1866 covers a pretty good sized chunk of America’s history. The horses played some pretty significant roles during those years, whether as pack animals, work animals, or entertainment. This book includes 54 chapters, including a preview chapter from volume 2.

The stories run the gamut from straight out of a historical book to fun and unique horses. You can read about the horses that were first brought to the Americas all the way through some of the specific horses from both the Union and Confederate armies of the Civil War. There are chapters about horses working for the Lewis and Clark Expedition through those used in coal mines. There are chapters on the specific horses some of the presidents used and talk about entertainment like pack burro races.

Two of my favorite stories were the one on the Pony Express and the ones about the ponies in the mines.  The Pony Express was a unique moment in history that lasted only about 19 months but was certainly an important step in the history of the country. It was part of what brought east and west together. And it was interesting.

Pony Express chapter from History on Horseback

The stories about the horses in the mines were much sadder. They were often kept underground, though they were loved by their handlers and well taken care of for the most part. The information was really interesting reading for me.

It has been fun to pull this out to read a section that relates to other things that we are reading or talking about. I would share with the girls a chapter when I read something really interesting or when it aligned with something else we were taking about or reading about.

I can’t see us using this as an actual curriculum as it, by nature, has to jump over large chunk of years in history and important events in history. However, there is a planned activity guide that should be coming out soon; watch the website or sign up for their email to get notified. This guide might help me to see how to use this more as a curriculum rather than a supplement. But it is a really good, interesting supplement.

The images throughout the book are black and white. Many are old photographs or drawings. Many are pieces of artwork. They do a really good job of illustrating the topic. They are beautiful, as can be seen on this title page below.


The information in History on Horseback appears to be really well researched. There is a long list of sites and books used to research the information. There are plenty of quotes in the books to help you realized that the people that worked with these animals were real. These personal remembrances bring the information to life.

The only issue with it is that it is nearly impossible to trace the information. A lot of the information is from websites and it is just marked by topic. These don’t exactly line up with the chapter titles so it takes a bit of work to further research these ideas on your own.

This is definitely a unique book that will work as a solid history supplement, a stand alone read, or a fun coffee-table book. It is one I would recommend.

Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read other families’ thoughts about History on Horseback. You can click on the image below.

Review Crew Banner

History On Horseback the early years

High School Literature Class ~ video book report

literature class video book report

Miss E has been working through To Every Nation, a missionary biography based study. We are using this for her sophomore literature class. Her most recent read was Mary Slessor. To close out that part of the study, she decided to create a video book report. She has been enjoying making various videos and movies lately so when we were discussing options, this one just jumped out. She spent several hours deciding what she needed to include, what order to put the information in, and then putting together the video.

The interesting part of this, and something that shows true learning occurring, is that she did this on non-school days. In fact, she worked on it over the weekend because she found it fun to work on a video with nothing else she had to do interfering.

I highly encourage you to work with your student to find ideas and options that are interesting to the student. They may be ideas that are unique and out of the ordinary. They may not be. You student may enjoy writing traditional reports. No problem with that. Forcing the student to vary their projects does help to cultivate the creativity of the student in their responses and that is a good thing.

What projects have your students been working on?

Lori, At Home.

create video book report

He Lives ~ hymn

Something we all need to remember during these trying times. Lines that really strike me and make me think – I see His hand of mercy. I hear His voice of cheer. And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

Am I being a part of making sure others see His hand of mercy or hear His voice of cheer? And I making sure those struggling remember that Jesus is near when you need Him? A time for me to consider my choices.

I serve a risen savior

He Lives (I Serve A Risen Savior)

words and music: A. H. Ackley (1933)

I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him,
He’s always near.

He Lives!
He Lives!
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and
Talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He Lives!
He Lives!
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the word around me,
I see His loving care.
And tho my heart grows weary
I never will despair.
I know that He is leading,
Thru all the stormy blast.
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.

He Lives!
He Lives!
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and
Talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He Lives!
He Lives!
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian!
Lift up your voice and sing,
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him,
The help of all who find.
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.

He Lives!
He Lives!
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and
Talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He Lives!
He Lives!
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

As you go through this continuing time of difficulty, whatever that looks like for you, remember – Jesus Lives! And He is there with you through it all. He rose from the grave, conquering sin and death and giving us hope of eternal life, even through time here on earth of great difficulty.

Our preacher has been talking about difficult times these last few Sundays and the timing of the lessons could not be better. It fits. These are difficult times and we can complicate them further with sin. But Jesus lives! And His living means I have a hope and a future. Praise God for that!

Lori, At Home.

Easter Weekend Is Looking Different

Easter weekend is looking different

You know, we always do the same stuff on Easter weekend – our long-awaited Lads to Leaders national convention. We work towards it all year long. The girls, and the students in our church family, work on their projects and areas of growth. From song leading to Good Samaritan hours, from speeches to Bible reading, from learning to teach to memorizing scripture, the kids have worked long, tiring hours to reach their goals.

This year, though, is different. We will not be spending Easter weekend with 2500 of our closest Christian family and friends. We will be spending it quarantined in our home. I’ll be honest – this has been really hard. A few tears were shed when the cancellation was announced. It is something our whole family, our whole church family, looks forward to. We are heartbroken but we can use it to focus us.

The work the kids have put it will not go to waste. When COVID-19 has passed and we can get back to “normal”, we will plan a day for them to share their work and their projects. The awards that were already decided on will be sent to the church building and they will get them. They will perform the puppet theater plays they wrote and worked on. They will do the debate that was struggled with and prepared; it was a tough one this year! They will share the articles and the speeches they authored. They will get a chance to lead songs – girls in a girls gathering, boys for the whole group. We will find a way to honor their hard work. And they will start working towards next year’s theme and convention.

But we are throwing a couple more things on the weekend that are different. My oldest girl is turning 16 over Easter weekend and she was looking forward to celebrating it with all of her friends at the convention. Now, not only does she not get to celebrate at L2L, she doesn’t get to have friends around at all. I am thinking we might could get a video chat going at some point in the weekend to sing to her. But, it just isn’t the same. And that is really hard. She had asked to eat at a particular restaurant up in the DFW area where the convention is held and to go shopping for a particular birthday present in a particular store. Not happening now.

But, we will move forward. I am going to get the Egglo eggs out from a few years ago. I am going to ask my husband to pick up something special for them when he is out for work. The girls and I haven’t left the house since March 14 but he has to get out for work. So, perhaps he can get something special for them for Easter. We’ll make a cake for the birthday girl and have what she requests for her food for the day if we can get it.

The most important thing, though, is something lots of the world only seems to recognize on Easter – the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

We, however, celebrate every Sunday; not just on Easter. We are told in the New Testament to remember Christ until he comes again. Jesus himself instituted the observance of communion. (Matthew 26, I Corinthians 11) We do this weekly to celebrate our risen Savior, who broke the bonds of sin and death, setting us free. We will celebrate this risen Savior on Easter Sunday, though it will be in our home with our family of believers, unless something changes drastically between now and then.

So, while Easter will look very different this year, and we will struggle with not being able to do things the way we had hoped to, we know that God holds each day in His hands and that He is always watching over His people. Daily, we will celebrate His remembering us as we strive to be more like Him each day. And every Sunday, we will gather wherever we can with like minded people – through Facebook Live, Zoom, or in our home – and celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death, and granting freedom to those who live in Him.

What a reason to celebrate!

Lori, At Home.

Father God Just For Today – hymn

May my steps be worship May my thoughts be praise May my words bring honor to Your name

In difficult times, it is easy to struggle. It is easy to misjudge or misunderstand when we are surrounded by news that doesn’t lend itself easily to grace and understanding. It is easy to read things into other’s messages that are not meant and to not be clear about our own meanings. So. Easy.

Too easy, honestly.

I find myself shying further and further away from general conversation in social media because I don’t want to be pulled into something emotional. Emotions tend to drive social media and emotions tend to mislead us.

I have found myself struggling to be encouraged, even amidst the great amount of sermons, music, Bible readings, and more that are posted. Why? Because there are also so many who post one thing and seeming act in opposition to that.

Because of this type of conflicting presentation, I am struggling more and more. So, I am going to turn more and more to God. I am reading my Bible more and reading other things to help me to clearly understand God’s word. I find myself singing or humming more songs of praise and this one has been stuck in my head for a couple of days now.

Because so many appear to have learned this one by ear, there are plenty of different sets of lyrics for it. Just enjoy the message and allow God to guide you that your steps my be in worship and praise and all you do brings glory to God.

Father God, Just For Today

words and music: Marc Schelske (1996)

Father God, just for today
Help me walk the narrow way
Help me stand when I might fall
Give me the strength to hear Your call


May my steps be worship
May my thoughts be praise
May my words bring honor to Your name
May my steps be worship
May my thoughts be praise
May my words bring honor to Your name


Father God, just for tonight,
Hold my hand, and hold it tight
Fill my head with thoughts of You
And bring me home when life is through


Father God, be with me now
I’ll live for You, please show me how
I’ll serve Your name in all I do
Take my life, I give it to You

Lori, At Home

Hands-on History: Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression with HSITW ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Time Travelers

It is no secret that we think quite highly of Home School in the Woods and their hands-on history programs. We have been privileged to review another of their products recently. This time, it is an American history title from their series Time Travelers U.S. History Studies, which includes the following titles:

  • New World Explorers
  • Colonial Life
  • The American Revolution
  • The Early 19th Century
  • The Civil War
  • The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression
  • World War II

HSITW Time Travelers

We received the download file for The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression, running from about 1861 through the mid 1930s.

HSITW Industrial Revolustion

Topics covered in this title include the transcontinental railroad, purchase of Alaska, immigration, inventors and inventions, the Dust Bowl, the stock market crash, WWI, the Great Depression, the Indian Wars, and so much more. There are 25 lessons with each lesson expected to take about a day and a built in make-up/review day on every 5th lesson. However, it is very easy to adapt this to your family’s schedule. Since we were using this as a supplement, it took longer than one day per lesson. If your student is very engaged and you are using this as your main history for the time being, it would be very easy to cover more than one lesson in a day.

HSITW lessons

To get started with Time Travelers, you have to download a zip file after purchase. After downloading the zip file, you have to unzip it. This process varies by computer and you can find help on the Home School in the Woods website. Once you have it unzipped, you double click the start icon and it opens up the file in a web browser. From there is it just like navigating a website, clicking on what you need next. For example, if we were on lesson 3, we would click the icon next to that lesson and it would take us to a list of the materials we need to print and access for the lesson.


For each lesson, we printed the text but we accessed the project pages only on the computer. The text is the factual information covering the topics for the lesson. Miss E read it out loud to her youngest sister and found it helped her remember things and stay focused well. And her sister enjoyed learning and spending time with her. Win-win! The project pages are the instructions on how to put together the pieces of the mini-booklets, timeline, etc.

These parts are really quite similar to Project Passport and the access is similar also. Where it diverged was that every 5th lesson was for make-up or review. This is really good because it takes some of the daily pressure off to have to get everything done in a single day for each lesson. Additionally, the review cards are helpful. There are cards for words that were used in the week’s lessons that might be new or that were used differently then. There are cards for the events that were covered that week. And there are cards that are specific to WWI, even though it won’t be covered each week.


Another thing she is looking forward to is that lesson 25, the final lesson, is all about creating a Depression-era meal. It includes menu options, recipes, and invitations. This will be a fun culmination event for the study.

Miss E did not use every part of every lesson. She is completing the timeline and the mini-booklets.

She read through the quotes from different men and women and talked with her sister about them, discussing who each person was. She chose her favorite quote and made a bookmark or small card with it.


It was interesting to see Miss E and Miss J working together on this as it really boosted them both. Miss E was able to help Miss J learn some new things while finding about more about a period she herself was interested in. Miss J asked some insightful questions that caused Miss E to have to go researching some answers. One of those came up right off the bat with the transcontinental railroad: is the transcontinental railroad still in use? Turns out, it is and we had to look that up. A sign of a good curriculum is that it causes the student to think and ask questions, not answering it all for them.


One of our personal goals with this program was to find something to go a bit deeper into the time period with. HSITW does well with this. Since the products are designed to have the student thinking and writing about each topic, the information is by nature a bit more in depth. The hands-on aspect of working with mini-booklets and timelines and newspaper articles and such really helps bring history to life.

Thoughts from Miss E:

Overall, this is not really different from Project Passport. But there were some different parts that I really liked. I like the pages of quotes. I don’t have a need for handwriting practice but the card that I did was fun. I liked that every 5th lesson is a make-up day and review day. The vocabulary cards are interesting. The text for each lesson is interesting and more engaging than I remember Project Passport being since these are written a bit more like a story while the Project Passport was more factual.

I had requested this title since in my other history curriculum, I had just finished the Great Depression and I wanted to know more. It started about the turn of the 20th century and I wanted to know about what came right before that. I read about things in a general way but wanted to know the details about the rapid changes that were happening. This title seems to be doing that.


Other Products:

As everyone is aware, this is a presidential election year. What better time to study elections, right? Home School in the Woods has a U.S. Elections Lap-Pak that will fit the bill nicely. We used it a few years ago (4, I believe) and I am planning to pull it out for Miss J this fall. You can read about our use and review of it but you can also visit the HSITW blog and read what they say about it there.

Other than the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak, we have reviewed

If you are looking for more history information, the Home School in the Woods blog has ideas for you. Are you looking for a full curriculum or do you just need a single project to supplement? This will help you know the difference between the options offered. Or are you looking for reasons to add recipes to a history study? Check out the post on adding recipes.

Lori, At Home.

Please click on the image below to read other reviews about HSITW products by other Homeschool Review Crew families.

Review Crew Banner

Time Travelers pin

YWAM Biographies ~Jacob DeShazer

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Jacob DeShazer_ Forgive Your Enemies

One of the many fascinating ways to learn about history is to view it through the eyes of someone who has lived it – a biography. YWAM Publishing has created a line of biographies that really zoom in on the lives of missionaries. Christian Heroes: Then & Now offers a look at the lives of 49 different missionaries who have lived and served God around the world, from 1700 through current day. The biographies are written by Janet & Geoff Benge.


We first stumbled across a YWAM Christian Heroes biography at a garage sale. My oldest, now 15, enjoyed it a lot and so we went looking for more. We have been collecting them since and have been blessed to review several through the Homeschool Review Crew. This year, we received the book Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies and the curriculum guide to go with it. The book is available in paper back, ebook, and MP3/audiobook formats.

As always happens, as soon as the book arrived, it disappeared in the hands of Miss E. She devoured the story in an afternoon and then handed it back to me to read. I read it and found it fascinating.


Summary: Jacob DeShazer was a gunner on a bomber at the beginning of WWII. He was brought on as one of the famous Doolittle Raiders, without knowing what he was really volunteering for. His team was able to hit their target but they were unable to make it safely to their expected landing area. They landed in Japan occupied China and Jacob was captured. He spent the next 3 and 1/2 years as a prison of war in various locations in Japan. Towards the end of his imprisonment, Jacob turned to God. After he was released and returned to the US, Jacob knew he had to return to Japan to fulfill the calling he had heard from God during his imprisonment. He studied, married, and returned to Japan as a missionary. He wanted to teach the people there about God. He wanted them to know that he forgave them for this wretched treatment and wanted to help them be saved. He even had the amazing experience of some of his captors turning to God and speaking alongside him. He was able to touch many lives through his work in Japan.

The story itself presents much material to consider and talk about. Forgiveness is such a difficult things sometimes, yet here is an example of one who was able to forgive much more than I will, hopefully, ever endure. And he not only forgave, Jacob wished the best for them.

Screenshot 2020-03-24 at 5.41.52 PM

Unit Study Curriculum Guide: This downloadable study is available if you wanted to take the learning further. This jumps into the story through comprehension questions, maps, activities, people, Bible verses, and much more.

There are 8 parts to the study guide, as well as appendices for additional resources and bibliography.

  1. Key Bible Verses
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event

Each area begins with some ideas and tips and the reminder that there are more ideas than any one class/person could actually use. So, feel free to pick and choose those areas and ideas that are of the greatest interest to your learners.

When we are using a Christian Heroes: Then & Now book, I really like to use the Key Bible Verses. We may or may not memorize them but I always like to go through them and talk about why these particular verses were chosen for this person. Maybe it was a favorite of the person or maybe it just illustrates a theme, such as perseverance. For Jacob, one of the verses is about being a witness to others. One is about hiding God’s word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Another is about God being sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

A display corner is finding pictures and items around the house that represent the place, time, person, or theme of the book. The comprehension questions are great. They can really help gauge the student’s understanding and help them think deeper, as you can see in the screen shot of some of the questions below. Student explorations are hands-on areas of discover such as maps or writing or crafts or recreations. There is so much here that you do not need to do it all. Just pick and choose those that align with interest and need.

Screenshot 2020-03-24 at 5.51.22 PM

Social studies includes more ideas to explore and community links include ideas of places to visit related to the story such as an air base or a farm. Related themes will explore some ideas a bit farther from the core of the story such as propaganda or more about the Doolittle Raiders. The study closes out with a culminating event where the students can be encouraged to show off what they have learned and the items they have completed.

Our use of the study guide and story looked a bit different this time around. Miss E is doing a language arts curriculum that is focused on the YWAM missionary biographies, though Jacob DeShazer is not one of the ones included. After reading DeShazer’s story, Miss E approached it as she has the other YWAM biographies that are included. She did a map of Japan and she noted the important things about him, using her other missionaries as a guide. We talked a good bit about the implications of capture and torture during the war. We talked about God’s use of Jacob to return to his captors and minister to them. We discussed the character and how Jacob’s character changed throughout his life. I accessed some of the discussion questions for our talks.

This story is one that she was very pleased to read, though it is quite a bit different than other YWAM missionary stories. Jacob DeShazer’s biography was written very soon after his died. That is quite unusual but his is an unusual story. It focuses a lot on his time at the hands of the Japanese because that is what it took for him to become humble and hear God. About the last 1/3 of the story is about his training and missionary times. And it is quite amazing to read.

As always, we recommend the YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. Other YWAM books we have reviewed include:

Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to read more Homeschool Review Crew experiences with YWAM Publishing books from both the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series and the Heroes of History series.

Review Crew Banner

Jacob DeShazer post

%d bloggers like this: