Blue Ribbon Awards, 2020 edition

The Blue Ribbon Awards is a tradition with the Homeschool Review Crew and it is a fun one for us as participants. I imagine it is also fun for the vendors. A number of categories are shared and every family in the Crew votes for their favorite in that category. We don’t vote in all categories since we didn’t review something from each of the categories.

Please visit the Crew blog to read about the overall winners from the Crew and to find other families who have shared their individual favorites. Without further ado, here are our family’s choices for the Blue Ribbon Award 2020.

Favorite Complete Curriculum – My Father’s World

Favorite Reading Supplement – Reading Eggs

Favorite Language Arts Resource – IEW

Favorite History/Social Studies Resource – Home School in the Woods Time Line Collection

Favorite History/Social Studies Book – YWAM – Jacob Deshazer

Favorite Science Resource – Journey Homeschool Academy – Upper Level Biology

Favorite Math Curriculu – CTCMath

Favorite Math Supplement – Critical Thinking Co: Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Favorite Fine Arts Resource – Beyond the Stick Figure

Favorite Bible Resource – Drive Thru History Adventures – Bible Unearthed

Favorite Elementary Product – Let’s Go Geography

Favorite Middle School Product – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Favorite High School Product – Journey Homeschool Academy

Favorite Mom/Teacher Product – Fermentools Starter Kit

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Fermentools Starter Kit

Favorite Fun Resource – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Kid’s Choice (Miss J chose this one) – Beyond the Stick Figure

Teen’s Choice #1 (Miss L chose this one) – My Father’s World

Teen’s Choice #2 (Miss E chose this one) – Journey Homeschool Academy

My Favorite – Sonrise Stables/History on Horseback

So, there you have it. Our favorites for the year. We got to review a some new products this year and we got to know some new vendors. We also got to use some old favorites that we know work well with the girls. We are continually blessed by the Crew and are looking forward to another year with them.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thankfulness

When I start thinking about how to write about thankfulness, I find myself thinking how typical all my responses are. And I consider myself pathetic for that. Surely, I think, I can find something “bigger” or “better” or “more important” to be thankful about. I don’t want to be thankful for the same stuff as everyone else. And so I convince myself that these exercises in thankfulness are not all that effective.

Then, I hear my daughter singing.

Jesus paid it all;
All to him I owe;
Sin has left a crimson stain;
He washed it white as snow.

Y’all, that put it all in perspective real fast. Better than a glass of cold water in the face. That is all I need and in being thankful for that, I am giving thanks for all the other “stuff.” Stuff here on earth is nice but it is just stuff. If I have salvation, I have it all. And therein lies the thankfulness.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew for the November challenge for week 2 – Giving Thanks.

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ 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.

Names are important. Names are personal. We did not choose our girls names based on meaning but I know many people who spend a lot of time choosing their children’s names based on what they mean. Sometimes those meanings are Biblical; sometimes those meanings are cultural. Both can be influential. CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts are all about bringing that purpose and meaning to a beautiful gift. We received two of their products for the purpose of this review: the 8×10 Plaque print and the personalized AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.

Having reviewed CrossTimber in the past, I knew a bit about the quality of their name plaques and we chose to order one for our family surname. My girls all have their 5×7 plaques on their walls so we picked a beautiful print for our family room. We chose the Autumn Harvest print with our family name. The colors are vibrant and are very pretty. It includes a beautiful cursive name with an origin culture. There are three meanings included plus a Bible verse that relates to the meanings.

We thought our name was from a different culture than CrossTimber came up with but that was an interesting thing. It was fun to find out something new and different, without knowing for certain either way. (We know for a fact that our family name is hard to trace.) The meanings were fun to read and the girls got a kick out of the ideas. The Bible verse is a great life verse for anyone to choose and the fact that CrossTimber chose it to go with our name is pleasing.

The AmazingName Print Activity Sheets were a fun addition for this review. We had Miss J’s name put on these. (As we don’t use her full name on here on purpose, I have cropped pictures to show only the first letter of her name for these pictures when I need to. The sheets all actually contain the whole name.) There are plenty of activities included that range over a wide group of ages. Included are mazes, word searches, coloring pages, picture searches where the child’s name is embedded in different fonts in the picture, copywork with Bible verses, print and cursive exercises with the child’s name, and other activities.

From beginning to learn to print letters to enjoying challenging mazes and word searches, there is something there for all ages of children. I would guess these would go over well for children from ages 3 to about 11 or 12. Miss J is 11 and she found plenty to enjoy in them. There were a number of activities below her level but that was just fine. We are considering ordering some of these sets for some girls we know who might really enjoy them. They could be a fun, simple Christmas gift for these friends.

If you are looking for meaningful gifts for a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion, consider CrossTimber. Their gifts are beautiful and can be very encouraging for others.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the name meaning gifts that they ordered from CrossTimber, from 8×10 plaques to personalized bookmarks to personalized name cards.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Bible Studies from Julie Naturally ~ 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.

Living a life for Christ begins with knowing the word of God. Spending time in the Bible can be guided many different ways. Two studies from Julie Naturally have been a part of guiding my daily time in the Bible recently. I have been using the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Romans bundle and the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Philippians.

Julie Naturally is the company run by Julie Polanco. She is striving to use her site and resources to help Christian homeschooling families. There are four parts to the Julie Naturally site – homeschooling, holy living, wholistic health, and homesteading. You can explore these, including her blog. But I am going to direct you to the Bible studies found in her shop. This is what I was using – Romans Bible Study Bundle and the Philippians Bible Study.

Romans Bible Study Bundle

This bundle included a downloadable and printable PDF of the Bible study of Romans, a downloadable/printable PDF of the coloring pages and memory verses, and access online to a video introduction to each of the 8 weeks of the Bible study. Each week of the study has a short video introduction, about 2 chapters to study for the week, and 6 days of study questions and discussion points. In between each week’s set of questions is a coloring page and there are memory verses for each week to print also.

coloring page from Romans study

Each daily study has a passage of verses to read and ponder. The daily questions are related to the reading. The questions range from basic information recall to considering background to apply the concepts to the world of today. Some of the actions for the daily study include prayer and spending time considering how God is working in a specific way. According to the website, this study is appropriate for an older teen or woman. Plan to spend about 15 or 20 minutes daily on this study if you work at the pace Julie planned.

Philippians Bible Study

The study of the book of Philippians is a 4 week study. It does not include a video component for each week. It could be coming later as it was mentioned in the introductory pages but it was not available when I was using the study. As with the Romans study, there are daily readings of a prescribed set of verses and the discussions are related to these verses.

The discussion includes questions of various depths, background information, and statements designed to provoke thought and application to daily life and the world around. According to the introduction to the study, each day’s reading and discussion in under 20 minutes.

My Thoughts

Both the Romans study and the Philippians study did not feel deep and challenging for me. I found that it took me about 5 minutes a day in the Philippians study to read and answer the questions. In the Romans study, it took me closer to 10 minutes because the readings were longer. I prefer my daily study to be 30-45 minutes or longer.

The videos were difficult for me to follow because her speaking style was not as organized as I prefer when working on a Bible study. The quality was similar to a live video from social media, including issues with the reception in week 3 where there content is missing at about the 7 minute mark.

I found that the daily discussions had some interesting points that I had not considered before. For example, Philippians starts with a discussion about leadership in the church. It was a good, thought provoking point. There were a few of these throughout the study. Overall, I found the questions to be recall level questions or to be worded so that I was unsure what was being asked for. If you are going to print the study, I recommend printing two pages of the study per page because there is a lot of blank space on every page, much more than is needed for writing.

I would have greatly appreciated a leader’s guide to go along with this so that I could figure out where she was going with some of the discussions. Several times, I left questions blank because it was unclear what she was considering.

I added the words from Philippians 4:8 to each of the shapes in this coloring page to help me focus on that verse.

I did enjoy the coloring pages in the Philippians study. I liked that the coloring pages in the Romans study had scripture on each one, though it wasn’t stated on the page where the scripture was found.

It was not a favorite study for me and I don’t feel like it would take my girls deep enough into the text. I can really see this being good for others. I found that there were some very good ideas covered in these studies. If you are a fairly new Christian or a younger teen, I can see these studies being appropriate for you. They are also appropriate if you are looking for a simple daily study that doesn’t require a lot of effort or in depth study.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about others who have been using these studies from Julie Naturally.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Economics Class by Boundary Stone ~ 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.

Economics is something that is beneficial for everyone to know. Understanding the process by which goods and services are created and traded/received is a fundamental part of our society and world. Boundary Stone has created an online course paired with an in-print book for a high school economics class.

Economics Online Course Bundle has several components – an online portal with videos, daily check lists, quizzes, reviews; a digital PDF teacher’s guide; a hardback textbook. The course also asks for two additional books. Access is for 12 months but the course is designed to be completed in one semesters with daily lessons.

The main text is Basic Economics, A Natural Law Approach to Economics. It is a hardback text written by Clarence Carson and Paul Cleveland. It is over 370 pages and contains the main information for the course. There are three sections to the course: The Framework of Economics, The Production and Distribution of Goods, and the Politico-Economic Systems.

The Framework of Economics discusses basic economics, natural laws and the impact on economics, government and some of the history, society and morality, and property. These ideas and concepts are all placed in a historical framework and this part of the text reads like a history book. Section II gets into goods and how we make or receive goods, the market and how it reflects society, money, inflation, pricing, and much more. Titles of chapters in Section III include Manorial-Feudal System, Mercantilism, Free Enterprise, Corporatism, Welfarism, and Communism.

The online coursework has a checklist for daily work to help keep the student on track and moving forward. It is a numbered list of what is to be read, videos from Paul Cleveland, some linked YouTube videos, some linked articles to read, questions to be answered, quizzes to be taken, or unit tests to complete. There are also activities that are added in sometimes.

The online dashboard has a lot of information to help students stay on track. The left hand side has drop down menus that allow you to click on your next lesson and head directly there or something you have previously completed if you need to do a review. The top section has a percentage complete for the course so you can see at a glance how far you have come. It also has arrows to simply move forward or backward one lesson. With a linked PDF of the text, online review questions, and a place to mark complete when you have done each of the numbered parts of the lesson.

I have found the text to be an interesting read, though I disagree with the general tone of a large part of the discussion. It has challenged me to consider what I have been taught, to do my own research and reading, and to think about some of the concepts and ideas presented. I would recommend a parent or teacher take a look at the text before handing it to the student so that they are well aware of the outlook of this program. I have learned a lot and will continue on through the book, though my students will not be using it at this time.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on the program from Boundary Stone.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thankful ~ November 2020 Book Club

I have joined in with some online friends for a book club. We are doing it simply. Hopkins Homeschool is heading it up. Each month, she will announce a theme. We will pick a book based on that theme. Read your book, or books, during the month. That’s it.

I, and some other bloggers, are going to post at the beginning of the month about our choices. Then, at the end of the month, we’ll come back and write about what we did, the book(s) we or our family read, and anything we might have done to make it special. The bloggers joining in are:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

For the theme of Thankful, I chose to find a book that will encourage me to be thankful. When I was looking around what I had, I found two books of poetry by Beth Moore. I had never read them before and opened one up. I was immediately struck by the poetry and the vingettes she writes. I decided that these two books would be the start of my thankful books for November.

The two books are:

Things Pondered: From the Heart of a Lesser Woman

Further Still: a collection of poetry and vignettes

I am looking forward to reading about what the others are doing this month. If you would like to join in, just leave me a comment below or on social media about what you are reading under the theme of thankful this month.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls ~ a review

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Telling Ministries LLC and HCCP for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Gift Set is a great addition to your shopping list for any young ladies in your life that you are looking to encourage in their Bible study and growth. This is a great gift set for girls ages 8-12. It would be great for older girls and ladies, too, if they enjoy coloring scripture verses, journalling in their Bible, or just having extra space for taking notes.

The NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Gift Set comes in a lovely box to protect the Bible and keep all the piece of the gift together. It includes a Bible, a set of colored pencils, and a set of stickers.

The Bible is a hard-back version printed in Zondervan’s exclusive NIV Comfort Print® typeface at 8-point print size. It contains the complete text of the Bible in NIV translation and over 600 black line illustrated verses. It also includes wide, lined margins on the pages that don’t have verse to incorporate note taking, journal entries, or reflecting. There is a satin ribbon sewn into the binding for keeping your place marked. The cover is a lovely teal color with a variety of flowers imprinted in the leather-feel cover.

Inside the front you will find a table of contents and tips for Bible art journaling. At the back of the Bible you will find a table of weights and measures. Unfortunately, there is no glossary or index, which I feel are a huge help and of great importance for young ladies of the intended age bracket as they learn to look things up in their Bibles and learn to study more on their own.

The Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Gift Set comes with colored pencils. These are twist pencils, where you twist the end to lower the colored lead for use. They are encased in a strong plastic which should help protect them over the course of use. Included are red, yellow, blue, and purple. I found that the pages of the Bible are thicker than many Bibles but not so thick that you can substitute markers for colored pencils. I would definitely stick with the colored pencils included.

The Gift Set includes six (6) pages of black and white stickers. These are printed on paper that allows for the stickers to be colored. There are close to 40 stickers on the six sheets and they include phrases and words from scripture, plus a few pictures.

If you would like to see more about what is included, you can download a sample. You can also download and print your own color pages from some of the artwork.

one of the download pages available

The NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Gift Set would make a lovely gift for any young lady. With the addition of the stickers and colored pencils, it is a wonderful way to encourage the young lady in your life to dig into God’s word and to study her Bible. This beautiful Bible will be one she is pleased to own and use.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Near To The Heart of God ~ hymn

Rest is something that is elusive for a lot of people. I was talking with another mom this morning at worship about her husband and the fact that he got no rest last night due to insomnia. Without rest, we are going to struggle. Without rest, we have no peace. Without rest, we are vulnerable to all sorts of things we don’t want to have in out lives as Christians – laziness, outbursts of temper, unkindness, stress, worry, and so much more.

Take some time today to visit with God, to find that “place of quiet rest” that will bring you “near to the heart of God.”

Perhaps these passages will help you –

[Psa 73:28 ESV] 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

[Isa 26:3 ESV] 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

[Jas 4:8 ESV] 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

[Heb 7:25 ESV] 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

[Heb 11:6 ESV] 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

May you find yourself near to the heart of God, seeking Him and finding peace and joy only He can provide.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Near To The Heart of God

words and music: C. B. McAfee (1931)

1 There is a place of quiet rest,
near to the heart of God,
a place where sin cannot molest,
near to the heart of God.

Refrain:
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God,
hold us, who wait before thee,
near to the heart of God.

2 There is a place of comfort sweet,
near to the heart of God,
a place where we our Savior meet,
near to the heart of God. [Refrain]

3 There is a place of full release,
near to the heart of God,
a place where all is joy and peace,
near to the heart of God. [Refrain]

Bible Unearthed by Drive Thru History ~ 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.

Biblical archaeology can shed a lot of light on the word of God and help us understand the place in history of people and events. Drive Thru History® Adventures has been shedding light on the Bible through their videos for a while now. After the success of such series as The Gospels and Acts to Revelation (links take you to our reviews), the company realized that it would be interesting to share more about what goes on behind the scenes for Drive Thru History and feature archeaology.

We were given early access to a program series that Drive Thru History® Adventures will be releasing soon – Bible Unearthed. This program features Dr. Titus Kennedy, who is the main archaelogical researcher behind the Drive Thru History programs. Along with him, we meet Dave Stotts (of course) and Randall Niles, a writer for Drive Thru History. These three men take us through various parts of understanding the importance of archaeology and its impact on the Bible and history.

Bible Unearthed is accessed for us through the Drive Thru History® Adventures site. This curriculum site is a subscription site and requires internet access. The program is a 12 part series. Each video is supported by articles, worksheets, Bible readings, and suggested activities to help students understand the content and history. The videos run somewhere around 15 minutes each, give or take a couple of minutes. The course guide recommends each family decide how best to approach the curriculum and gives a possible schedule suggestion that covers one “adventure,” or video, per week and hits all of the included activities/readings.

The format for this series is very different from previous Drive Thru History videos, but that should be expected with a subject so very different from previous series. This is almost a relaxed discussion between 3 friends, with Dr. Kennedy taking the lead and giving the most information. As he is the archaeologist, that makes sense. He covers the following topics in the 12 part series:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • The Impact of Archaeology
  • Locating Archaeological Sites
  • The Life of an Archaeologist
  • What’s Being Discovered Today?
  • Archaeological Mysteries
  • Top Discoveries in Bible Archaeology
  • Getting Involved With Archaeology
  • Trends In Archaeology
  • Weird Archaeology
  • Accidental Discoveries in Archaeology
  • What’s Left To Be Discovered?

The focus in this series is about the impact of archaeology on understanding the ancient world, particularly the Biblical world. From the Tel Dan Stele, to the excavation of a palace of King David, to the Rosetta Stone, the connections between today and the artifacts and excavations of the ancient world bring this understanding. Each of the episodes talks about a different aspect of archaeology and touches on different people and places and artifacts. This keeps each episodes fresh and new yet ties them all together as some of the people, places, and artifacts come up over and over.

The dashboard for this course is simple to use and follow. It moves you from one episode to the next or you can cancel the auto play and utilize the different pieces of the curriculum. When you log in each time, it is easy to see where to begin, as the completed pieces have a check next to them. You can go back to whatever previous piece of the material you might be interested in. The worksheet and answer key are downloadable and printable. There are still articles being added to this course, so it is recommended to continue checking back for new additions. The articles are linked; you can click on the article title and it opens in a new tab.

one of the articles for Digging Deeper

We have found this series to be interesting and insightful. We have watched the episodes together and enjoyed them. I have read the articles and followed the curriculum myself, to add to my understanding of the information. I would certainly recommend this series to anyone wanting to learn more about archaeology, especially ancient history or biblical archaeology. It would not serve as a full high school course on its own, in my opinion, but would be easy to pair with additional resources to round out the course. (A book by Dr. Kennedy is recommended in the course guide.)

We were able to view the videos on the TV by opening the site on a smart phone and casting it to the TV. The whole family could watch then. I also watched a few of the episodes on the laptop when I was prewatching or rewatching episodes by myself or with Miss E, who is devouring the information in this series as much as I am.

Want to know more? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews on Bible Unearthed, the soon-to-be-released series from Drive Thru History® Adventures.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Learning Math Online ~ 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.

Math learning can be challenging. Math teaching can be challenging. MathandAlgebra.com is an online subscription that can take the challenge out of it all.

Presented in a combo online/offline format, the goal of MathandAlgebra.com is to help student learns math in a fun and accessible way. This increases not only skill but also confidence. The instructor is Rick Fisher, a math teacher with over 30 years of experience. He has been able to help many students increase their math skills by using his classes for 20 minutes a day.

MathandAlgebra.com has four available classes – Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-algebra, and Algebra. A subscription provides access to all four of these courses to work through at your pace.

Each lesson is composed of just a couple of steps. First, Miss L would watch the video. Each video is fairly short; most of the videos we watched were less than 5 minutes. These videos have Mr. Fisher’s voice teaching the concept while you see him writing on the white board. Students are encouraged to copy the exercises as he teaches. Miss L wrote them in her notebook with each page dates and the lesson number included.

showing work complete on left and the video for the current concept
at the bottom of the page you have access to the worksheet and answer key, as well as the place to mark your lesson complete

Next, access the worksheet. It can be viewed online or printed. We did some of both. Work through each of the questions. Again, Miss L wrote them into her notebook.

Once the student has answered all of the questions, the answer key can be accessed. Grade the worksheet at this point. Miss L had to correct any missed questions. Unfortunately, if a question is not understood, there is not an annotated explanation of the answer. Hopefully, the parent assisting can figure out what was missed. So far, in the algebra class, we did not hit any that I could not understand.

Miss L worked through the first few weeks of the algebra course. It came along right after she finished her pre-algebra work. There was not a placement test of any sort, so she had to begin at the start of the course. If you know your student well, you could probably have them skip over parts at the beginning of the class, especially if they are just coming off a course that covered those exact same concepts.

The interface is fairly easy to use. You can see what lessons have been completed in working on the course by the green checked circles. Also, if you have completed the lesson, than the “mark complete” at the bottom is grayed out. The student can easily know where to start each day by remembering to click that “mark complete” when they finish checking each worksheet.

The simplicity of this course is appealing. It doesn’t have lots of bells and whistles and jumps straight into what is needed to be learned for that lesson. Watch the video, do the worksheet. After completing the unit, take the quiz. Move on to the next one. Straight-forward.

The teacher/parent does have access to a simple report listing what quiz the student took on what dates and the grade received. The daily work is not graded online. That is graded by the student or the parent/teacher. If you want to include it in the overall grade, you will do that on your own.

If you are looking for a straight-forward, online math program with a video component, this might be a good fit for you. It is just that. Math taught without bells and whistles to confuse things.

Want to see what other families thought? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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