Category Archives: electives

And the Learning Goes On, and On, and On ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair

And the learning goes on

Learning never stops. And tons of things can be classified as “learning.” And we want our girls to live a life of learning. And so, the learning goes on, and on, and on, and . . . Well, you get the picture. But how do we actually do that? Imperfectly. But we try.

In some ways, we do really good. Remember my post last week on how we discuss with the girls what they want to learn or give them options to choose from for certain classes? That is one way.

Another is that we pick movies and books to share with them that we think they should know (and love, but sometimes they have their own opinions about that!). Whether it be for our weekly movie night (every Friday) or for our read alouds (whether that is over lunch or in the car on trips), we try to find new and interesting things to share with the girls. Sometimes, we are shocked when they don’t love something as much as we do (The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail) and sometimes, they love it and we get to enjoy it more than once (The Sound of Music, any of the Heirloom Audio Productions, and Little Women/Little Men/Jo’s Boys).

Yet another way is through the outside classes we take them to. All three of the girls take dance classes. One of the girls takes violin lessons. Another takes sign language classes. Another takes piano lessons. Yes, this is additional time and expense but it broadens their horizons in ways that they are interested in. And they absolutely are thriving with these “extras.”

We seek out experiences for them. We go on field trips. We go to the museum or travel to close big cities to visit museums. We go to the beach, the mountains, and visit family. We seek out history. We look for concerts and plays to attend. We are intentional about looking for things to go experience with the girls.

And, we participate highly in church. This may be the last one I talk about but it is the most important and the first when it comes to conflicts. We have an active Lads to Leaders program at our congregation. This is a program that is designed to help encourage, train, and strengthen godly leaders in the Lord’s church. We participate in a number of activities through this program at church, including Bible Bowl, puppet theater, and storyline performances. The girls write speeches, design and put up bulletin boards in classrooms, lead singing in front of ladies’ groups or children’s classes, and read God’s word for the ladies’ groups and children’s classes. We are seeing their skills, leadership, and self-esteem grow. And when we participate in a national conference each spring, the girls get to show off those skills.

Additionally, our congregation has an active youth group. There are many opportunities to serve the congregation and to assist the youth minister with activities for younger kids. There are several service activities each year and a week long mission trip each summer where the youth serve at a children’s home. They also have the opportunity to be junior counselors at a camp session for younger students. Two of the girls are old enough to participate in the youth activities and so we stay pretty busy.

But, since we want the girls to know that every facet of life has an opportunity for both service to others and personal growth, we try hard to open those doors of opportunity as often as we can.

When your family sees life as education and education as life, things overlap quite a bit. That is okay because what an experience it is!

At Home.

Hosted by  Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds, there will be many more blogs sharing ways to include learning outside of the core subjects. Check back late Sunday (1/28) or Monday (1/29) to see the whole list.

2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair button

This is the final week of the 7th Virtual Homeschool Fair. Our topic is:  Enriching Our Learning.

Note: All posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 29th.

Celebrating 7 Years of Homeschool Support & Encouragement by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

All of the Extras by Christy Schaefer @ Unexpected Homeschool

How To Explore Special Interests In Your Homeschool by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Learning outside of the box by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Putting the Heart Back into our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Adding in the Fun by Michele @Family, Faith and Fridays

The Electives We Use in Our Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

The Fun Parts of Homeschooling by Annette @ A Net in Time

How we add in the fun stuff. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Running – for fitness & fun by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

Adding in the Extras by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

What About the Fun Stuff? by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

And the Learning Goes On, And On, And On by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Let’s See What’s Out There! (Electives and Extras) by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break



Innovators Tribe ~ a Crew review

Innovators Tribe course

Fridays are a “different school” day for us: we are intentionally giving the girls hands on learning in science, technology, and art. Innovators Tribe had given us a wonderful opportunity with their program titled Thinking Like an Engineer, which we have been reviewing for a few weeks.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum designed to foster the thinking skills needed to bring creative thinking from the head to the hands. Created by Wayne Kroeplin, known as Mr. K., students are guided and taught the thinking skills needed to become an innovative thinker and a problem solver. The courses offered by Innovators Tribe are designed for 6th – 12th grade students. Because it is an online program, you will need a reliable computer and internet service as it is not a downloaded program.

We have been using Thinking Like an Engineer  during our Fun Fridays. Each Friday, we log into our course dashboard and click the link that continues us in the course right where we left off previously. The course is a good mixture of online learning with recorded lessons from Mr. K., slideshows, and videos to explain various concepts. There is also a printable unit journal that has questions for the students to complete. These questions help to focus the student’s attention on certain parts of the lesson, highlighting important terms or ideas. In addition, there are research and hands-on challenges that allow the students to put into practice the concepts discussed in the lessons.

tower challenge

Topics that are addressed in Thinking Like an Engineer  include what is an engineer (professional problem solver – I LOVE this description!), types of engineers, types of problems solved or studied by engineers, and real world examples of the application of engineering and problem solving thinking. Hands-on opportunities include things like building tower of books standing on only one piece of paper, making a tower of paper over 5 feet tall using minimal materials, creating a water filtering system, and these are just the ones we have encountered in Unit 1. (Looking ahead there is a bridge challenge and a roller coaster challenge, too.)

The challenges require some basic materials, though if you want to try the water filtration system, you will probably have to go shopping for some things. But overall, it is just paper and tape for the challenges.

book stacking challenge

We have begun Unit 2 and this is where we got to download the 3D software. We are extremely excited to learn how to use this software and find out what it can do to increase our problem solving abilities. The 3D software is used to design models of ideas for solutions. So many possibilities! There are several instructional lessons using this program and also some challenges with it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are using this program for a couple of hours each Friday as part of our STEM learning. This is being used by an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. They watch the lesson online together and then we talk through the questions in the Unit Journal related to that lesson. Finally, they tackle the challenges as a team.


Though she is below the anticipated age of the program, the 3rd grader is doing really well participating and helping out. She is not doing the writing in the Unit Journals, though we are talking about each question out loud and so she is participating in the discussions. She is also a big factor in the solutions with the challenges so far. She is just jumping right in, paying attention, and having fun with the learning.

Mr. K. really wants his students to learn and does an amazing job of assisting the students in that. For one of the questions in the Unit Journal, Miss L needed to research the engineering related to a topic she enjoyed. She chose dance. Well, let’s just say that is not an easy internet research topic. So, we took Mr. K. at his word about sending an email his way when we needed something and we had a very quick response that was just amazing.

He responded to Miss L with a video message in which he talked directly to her, addressing her need in such a way that she was empowered to go do the rest of the research needed to answer the question. He did not just tell her what to go look up but rather talked to her about how to think about the topic in a way that she could figure out what to go look for.

Innovators Tribe

This is a great example of how he teaches – he doesn’t lecture and tell you everything he wants you to know. Yes, there is some of that because there is just no way around it sometimes. But, he addresses the “how” of the thinking and gives the students the power and ability to think about the problem differently and in a way that allows solutions to be imagined. That is powerful!

I encourage you to find out more about Thinking Like an Engineer by visiting Innovators Tribe.

At Home.

Read more reviews by families who have been using both Innovators Tribe classes:  Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Everyday Cooking ~ a Crew review

Everyday Cooking

Picking up a cookbook and reading through it is just such a fun thing for me to do. When I picked up Everyday Cooking by Vicki Bentley, I felt like I was reading recipes my mom would have written down and tidbits of information from grandma. What a wonderful treat this book from Everyday Homemaking is.

Everyday Cooking
Vicki Bentley is a mom who understands quality – in love (just read her blog!), in family, in food, in instruction. From picking out recipes that feature healthy foods to ones that are inexpensive to make, this is a cookbook that can be shared or given as gifts, knowing you are giving them a useable cookbook. So many cookbooks out there, while they cover interesting and yummy sounding dishes, are just not practical, whether it be due to cost of ingredients or time required in the kitchen. Everyday Homemaking provides a cookbook that gives you both – ingredients you can afford and probably already having most of in your kitchen AND recipes that do not require an overwhelming amount of time to prepare so we can get on with the real tasks – loving our family.

cutting apples

An important feature of Everyday Cooking is that it provides instructions that are so clear and so easy to do that the children can easily help in the kitchen. All of my girls have used this cookbook to assist with food preparation over the past few weeks. Only once did I have to clarify anything and it was a term that you learn by doing (I think it was mince).

A feature of the book that I am excited to begin using in full is the list of dishes for the girls to learn. Included in Everyday Cooking is a short unit on cooking and it looks wonderful. Using it, plus all of the other tips, instruction, and materials other than the recipes, (and a tad bit of work on my part to plan and document) it will serve as a foundation for a home economics credit when they hit high school.

Some of the other materials included in the book are basic shopping lists, how to menu plan and a sample or two of how to do that, descriptions of basic kitchen accessories and equipment. There is a special section for low-carb and gluten-free helps, as well as a section for cooking with an electric pressure cooker. (This is where I learned that the Instant Pot is just a pressure cooker! My mind was shocked!)

Now, while all this other stuff is wonderful and helpful and quite a benefit, the real depth of Everyday Cooking is its recipes. Categories in the cookbook are:

  • breakfast ideas
  • appetizers and dressings
  • bread and grains
  • main dishes & soups & sides
  • desserts & snacks
  • low-carb and gluten-free helps/substitutions
  • pressure cooker (tips and recipes)

potato soup

The only thing I think would have made this easier to use would be to cross reference some of the substitution recipes. For example, when the CreamOSoup recipe is needed as an ingredient for another recipe, it would be nice to have the page number for CreamOSoup listed in that recipe. I have gone through my book and cross referenced those I found easily so that when I am using a recipe, that is one less thing I will need to locate.

Over the past few weeks, we have pulled this cookbook out a number of time and used many recipes. One of the first we used was Spiced Apples. Miss J did this recipe and we enjoyed it tremendously as it was very similar to a recipe we were already making.

We made her brownie recipe and Hawaiian Chicken for pot luck with our church. The Hawaiian Chicken did not work out so well for us, as we avoid flour in main dishes (I am allergic to wheat), and I subbed coconut flour in the CreamOSoup part of the recipe. It did not thicken well and when it cooled, the coconut flour got grainy. I will be playing with that CreamOSoup recipe to see what we can do with it without using flour. There are plenty of options; I just need to find the right one. The flavor of the Hawaiian Chicken was good, though! We definitely will try it again.

chopping for a recipe

The brownies were very different tasting than our norm but they turned out good. They were easy to prepare and they were enjoyed.

Other recipes we tried included the Chicken Broccoli Braid, pancakes, skillet chicken recipes, potato soup, and more. I have several others that I would like to try.

We also braved the Eggplant Lasagna, without the pressure cooker. Turned out lovely. We did not use the recipe for the sauce in the book because it is almost exactly like we do it from scratch without a written recipe. And that really sums up what appeals to me about this book – so many of the recipes are extremely similar to what I learned growing up and have been teaching my daughters.

Learning to cook to taste and from scratch – that is what Everyday Cooking by Vicki Bentley is about. Visit her website Everyday Homemaking plenty of tips, ideas, and other recipes. She also offers The Everyday Family Chore System for families, as yet another tool to help your home run smoothly and efficiently. Some of the Crew members were using this program so don’t miss their reviews.

Interested? Mrs. Bentley is offering a coupon code for my readers to use to get 10% off the purchase of The Everyday Family Chore System and/or Everyday Cooking (print or e-book) through Labor Day! The code is TOS10books — apply it to as many books in your cart as you would like, but you do need to shop first and apply the 10% discount code last due to what Mrs. Bentley described as “eccentric cart functions.” Expires Sept 5, 2017. This cookbook would make some good Christmas presents!

At Home.

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

The Typing Coach ~ a Crew review

The Typing Coach online course

Miss E has a goal of becoming a better typist so we were pleased to be able to take a in-depth look at The Typing Coach. An online audio tutorial, The Typing Coach Online Typing Course is applicable to students wanting to learn to type, from ages 8-80 or beyond.

Coach, your typing instructor, has created this program with the hope that it will make learning to type simple, less complicated. The key to this is following the plan exactly as laid out. There is not a pacing schedule for the program; you are to work on each lesson, repeating components, until it is mastered. This program will definitely be a great place to start for anyone who has not had any typing instruction.

The Typing CoachWHAT YOU NEED

The program has several components. In order to get the benefit of the program, you need access to the subscription program from The Typing Coach, internet access, a word processing program, and a printer. To begin with, the instructor needs to go into the program and print out the student pages, the Learning Checks pages, and the optional tracking page. Taking the time to read through the hints, the purpose of the program, the goals, and watching the videos provided will help you get started correctly.

HOW A LESSON WORKSThe Typing Coach working online

The student will open a word processor and The Typing Coach program. After setting up the printed page for the lesson and hitting play on the appropriate lesson audio, the student then clicks over to the word processor. Listening to the audio, the student is given the typing instruction. Listen. Type. Listen. Type. This is the basic process through which the instruction is given. At first, this is very simple – letter, letter, letter, space; letter, letter, letter, space. The instruction is give at a deliberate pace in order to encourage the student to take their time and work diligently at error-free accuracy.

After completing the audio course, the student is encouraged to practice and then to move over to the online Practice and Testing Center and take some typing quizzes. These quizzes are to see if they have done enough practice to move on to the next part of the program. There are time options for each Learning Check and once it is completed, the student will be given a grade. The goal is 100% accuracy. The speed will come with practice. After getting the 100% accuracy on that lesson, the student moves on to the next lesson.


There are a series of lessons that take you through all you need to work on to become an accurate typist, which is so necessary in our world. The lessons begin with posture, which makes a huge difference in ability. It moves on through the various rows on the keyboard and other keys used.


Table of Contents for The Typing Coach

The goal on each of the lessons is 100% accuracy prior to moving on to the next lesson. It is really tempting for students to move on before that mark but practice and accuracy are important in learning to type. That is why this is the goal and threshold for progress.


I believe this is a good, solid program that will work for lots of folks. I do not feel it is appropriate for all, though. As homeschoolers, that is expected so I wanted to share a bit about these things and make a couple of suggestions.

While I understood this was an audio course, I did not understand enough about how it worked. The pacing of the audio was slow and deliberate, which is understandable for beginning typists. It was, however, slow enough that it was a hindrance for my daughter. She often lost concentration because of the pace and already knowing how to type. (This is a trial page with a sample and additional information. I suggest listening to the sample to help determine if this is right for you.)

The format (open a window and listen to an audio) was difficult for my daughter (13) to work with. It felt disconnected for her. Part of that is that she already knew how to type and learned with a very different style of instruction, which relates to my next concern.

This program is definitely NOT for someone who knows how to type. I misunderstood this. I saw the goals of improved accuracy and typing speed and that stood out as something I thought this program could help her with. And it might have, if I had started her further along. Starting her at the beginning, though, was a mistaken since she could already type with good posture and knew where all the keys and numbers were.

Another concern that I had was the nonsense collection of letters, numbers, and punctuation. Those are extremely difficult to type if you know how to spell and type. This threw some massive curveballs our way that pushed the frustration buttons beyond reset for the day. I can understand the purpose of it in working towards accuracy (letter by letter will slow you down) but for some people, this is something that is just not something they can overcome.

The Typing CoachCONCLUSION

All in all, I think The Typing Coach program is good. If you have a student who has not already had typing instruction, this will likely be a good fit. If you have a student who does audio instruction well, this will likely be a good fit. This is a solid program that gradually walks the student through using all of the keyboard to by a competent typist. If you are looking for typing instruction, I encourage you to look closely at this program and to read more reviews from others on the Homeschool Review Crew who have been using the program for the last few weeks.

At Home.

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

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