Category Archives: history

Indiana – By The Way ~ a Crew review

Indiana cover

By the Way is a fun and fact-filled series of books written by author Joy Budensiek. We have been enjoying one of the four newest books in the By the Way Book Series as we think about planning a trip before too long. Indiana ~ By The Way is the book we have been enjoying. The other new ones include New York City, Alaska, and Ireland. There are currently 10 books in this series.

Joy Budensiek began writing these books to help families have an interesting and fun way to discuss spiritual truths in everyday life. After hearing the startling fact that most Christian families do not intentionally discuss God’s hand in every day life, she created this series to lend a hand and lead the way for families. These geographically based books help parents teach a Christian worldview through a bright and exciting children’s book.

reading in the tent

Each of the books in the series is a hard-back book that is printed in full color. It contains pictures of the actual places and animals discussed, as well as drawings and other images to illustrate other ideas or things. The reading level is upper elementary and the book is about 50 page long. Each page is packed and we would read about 6 or 8 pages in a sitting. This allowed us to discuss ideas and talk about things that interested us. More than once, while I was reading aloud to Miss J (age 9), one or both of the older girls would come look at what we were reading about. Often, we ended up at the computer, looking at the places on a map or reading more about the place mentioned.

By the Way tells the stories of two children who explore the world around them, wherever they end up. Alex and Lexi find themselves immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s hand in the world around them. In the book about Indiana, they are visiting family at Thanksgiving. Their family explores the state and finds a lot of interesting places to visit, things to learn, and animals to see.

reading with kitty

Some of the fun facts that we learned while reading this book:

  • There are quite a few covered bridges in Indiana. And, we hope to see some when we end up visiting that state.
  • There is a lot of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies (Miss L’s favorite), cardinals (Miss J’s favorite), bats (reminding Miss E of a visit to a cave a year or so ago), deer, lots of other birds (more of Miss J’s favorites), bears, rabbits, and many, many more.
  • There are sand dunes! We know sand dunes from White Sands so it was interesting to learn more.
  • This state borders Lake Michigan and is MUCH smaller than Texas.
  • There are large Amish communities in the state. This was really appealing to Miss E and Miss J since it relates so well to another book series they are reading about a young Amish girl.

These are just the tip of the iceberg with what you will learn about Indiana in this book. It is so easy to extend this type of learning. Marking a map, adding additional animal research or sketching, creating artwork related to themes and ideas, looking up more on the plants mentioned (orchids!) and trying to grow them – the possibilities are as varied as your own imagination.

holding book

As wonderful as all of this learning about Indiana is, there is something much better woven throughout the story and the pages of this book – God’s hand in nature and life. Intentionally looking for ways to help the reader see God’s hand, Bible verses are woven into the story and into the lives of the characters. One of these places is when talking about the beauty of the changing leaves in fall and Psalm 90:2 is quoted. Another example is when they are talking about caves and bats. I John 1:5 is brought up. In the discussion about Thanksgiving and its history, James 1:17 is quoted to remind us that God gives so many good gifts.

By The Way pictures of book

In addition to this, the discussion between the adults and the children in the story models well how to intentionally bring up God’s plan, His hand, and His wonderful creation in every day discussions. Finding life lessons from God is modeled well in this series of books. In Indiana, we see this when having a thankful heart is taught. We see it when they are teaching about the Amish and they mention “Family and faith are most important to them. Anything which threatens these is rejected.” (p. 35) Billy Sunday is discussed and the adults teach the children about the worth of salvation in contrast to the salary he gave up. They also model this idea with nature – the animals are so perfectly created that the butterflies know exactly when to migrate, the bats know how to hunt, the farms are blessed by the rain and sunshine, and the variety of trees that exist.

By The Way books

This modeling is wonderful and reminds us of the important things in life. The By the Way series is fantastic at not only teaching about interesting places but in teaching about God’s perfect creation and our lives in it. Indiana is another fun book in this series. Want to know about more? We reviewed Colorado previously on the blog and have read the Washington book, also.

At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other books in the series that are being reviewed this time around: Alaska, Ireland, and New York City.



Texas Bucket List – Q: Quanah Parker Trail ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet


The Quanah Parker Trail is a 52-county driving adventure that is designed to share with the traveler stops that highlight Quanah Parker, the Comanche, and other Plains Indians. It is found is the western part of the state of Texas, mainly the Panhandle and the Plains of west Texas. However, the story of Quanah Parker starts much closer to our current home.

Just a county over is the original Fort Parker, where Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped from in 1836 as a nine-year-old girl. The Comanche raised her as one of their own. She grew up and became the wife of Peta Nocona, a Comanche leader. She had children with him and one of their sons is known as Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche leader.

The Quanah Parker Trail commemorates this great Comanche leader and other Plains Indian tribes and peoples. Each stop of the trail is marked with a giant arrow stuck in the ground. The stops are places with a real or legendary connection to Quanah Parker and his people or other Plains Indians. This leader had the difficult job of helping the Comanche people realize that the white settlers were taking over and that the native peoples had to adapt or die off. Quanah Parker led his people into the new culture that was surrounding them and this trail commemorates that difficult leadership role he had.

I know that I have seen these giant arrows while driving through west Texas before but I had no idea what they were representing. Now, I know to stop when I see one next on my way to New Mexico. I will find something interesting there. Maybe we could make it a driving tour sometime and spend several days visiting these sites. I would truly enjoy that!

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – L: President LBJ ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Years ago, my mom and I stopped by a presidential home in northern Texas. (It was the childhood home of President Eisenhower.) I enjoyed the stop and found it really interesting. That has made me want to make a visit to see the sites related to President Lyndon B Johnson.


I have been very close to the Johnson family ranch, yet have not had opportunity to stop at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.

The LBJ Ranch is part of the National Park Service, having been donated to it by President Johnson and his wife. They donated it during their lives with the retention of ownership and use until they passed away. President Johnson died in 1973 and Mrs. Johnson continued to live on the ranch until her death in 2007.

Visitors to the Ranch are able to tour it at their own pace and in their own vehicles. On the tour of the Ranch, you can see President Johnson’s birth place, the Johnson family cemetary, and the Texas White House. President Johnson was born, lived, and died on this Ranch; it truly was his home. The one room schoolhouse, called Junction School, where he attended is still standing, as well.

Education is the only passport from poverty.

– Lyndon B. Johnson

Additionally, you can visit the Johnson family settlement from the 1860s. Johnson’s grandfather and great-uncle started a cattle business on the property. The site and an exhibit on the modern cattle business are available.

There are guided tours available; visit the NPS site for more information on those.

There is a lot to do at the LBJ Ranch and I sure would like to visit sometime. It is always interesting to see what influences our leaders. Perhaps when we hit this portion of history in the coming year, we can take a day trip down there.

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Hands-on History study of the Wonders of the World ~ a Crew review


Home School in the Woods is probably the premier hands-on history company. Their products truly help immerse the learner in the culture and history of the place they are teaching. We have been working on Lap-Pak: The Wonders of the World, which is one of the Hands-on History Lap-Paks, and enjoying relaxed, hands-on, project based learning.

Medieval wonders mini projects completed

Home School In The Woods is a company run by the Pak family. Amy Pak is described as the driving force behind this family and company. The research that she has put into lovingly creating these products is evident. Each of their many different lines and products are packed full of history, interest, and hands-on learning. Their product lines include:

Medieval Wonders pages

I was really drawn to the Wonders of the World product for summer learning as it covers a variety of time periods, connects to other interests (such as mythology and geography), and I have always found them fascinating so I wanted to share that with my girls. This Lap-Pak covers the four different ages of the wonders of the world. There are a set of ancient, medieval, modern, and natural wonders.

Each time set of wonders includes seven different places. Ancient wonders include some of what most of us think of when we hear about the seven wonders of the world: hanging gardens, the pyramids, the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and more. The Medieval wonders included most of the other things we think of: Stonehenge, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, and the Great Wall of China. Modern wonders include places like the CN Tower, the Channel Tunnel, and the Empire State Building. The seven natural wonders of the world really don’t surprise – the Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls, the Northern Lights, and the Great Barrier Reef are among this list.

Honestly, I had no idea there were so many places that were considered “wonders of the world.” I would not have considered the modern set wonders at all so it was a good perspective to see them through a different lense.

studying the booklet of the wonders of the world

reading about the wonders of the world in the booklet while enjoying some refreshment from the heat

The set we received was a digital file that I downloaded on my Chromebook. The FAQ on the website gives good information on how to best access the files you purchase. There is a bit of a challenge using the digital files with Chomebooks but I finally figured it out. The easiest way to access the files you need in the order you need them is through the browser connected file. But a Chromebook doesn’t unzip files the same was a desktop computer does. However, after downloading the file, I found the trick.

If you Open you files so that you can see the line that says “start.htm”
Press ctrl and alt together and while those are pressed double click the start line.
You should get a box that pops up with an option to “open with…”
Click that.
You should get another pop up box that offer you “open with text” or “view”
Click view.
That should open it in a browser window for you.

Screenshot 2018-07-07 17.55.18

This is a screenshot of when you open it from the Start.htm file and it opens in a browser window. This is opened on a desktop computer.

Back to the actual product now. The file includes all the masters you need to print for all of the mini books and booklets, as well as the audio files that take about each of the wonders, the booklet about each of them (same information on the audio files), and the text assignments & project directions. You will want a printer (b&w is fine), colored printer paper, white printer paper, and card stock, as well as colors, scissors, and tape or glue.


The text assignments & project directions helps you figure out how to print and put together each of the little booklets. Cutting and taping or pasting together each of the parts of the files will net you some really neat reproductions of each of the wonders. They each also include some information about each one that will go into the mini booklet. This allows the final product to be informational, as well as the process of putting it together allowing them to learn about it.

timeline and ancient wonders

I thought my youngest (9) would be the one working on it with me but I realized after receiving the file, that it would be interesting for all of us to work together on (this included both the 12 and 14 year old). So, I printed out the files for the ancient and medieval wonders, so far, and we have spent a few times together over the past few weeks putting them together. We would listen to the audio file all together and then each of the girls would choose one to work on. After we completed the ones we were working on, we shared with each other about what we did, what it was showing, and any other information they wanted to.

wonders of the world ancient

We are working on the modern wonders this week and will do the natural wonders next week. It has taken us longer than expected because when I realized it would be good connections for all of us to make, it meant we had to work around camp and leadership workshop schedules. But good things are worth waiting for and doing right. So, that is what we have done. 🙂


Anytime someone asks about history, Home School in the Woods is a company I recommend. This company has products that are well-researched, interesting, and the projects are hands-on. It can lead to rabbit-trails or just run you through the history in a unique way. It is flexible and it is appealing to multiple ages. This is one of those companies that you want on your radar. They are constantly adding to their product lines and increasing their coverage of history.


Their newest product is one Miss E is highly interested in – Ancient Rome from the  Project Passport World History Studies. I am going to try to work this into her high school history program at some point. If you are new to this series from HSITW, they are offering a really good deal on their bundle of Project Passport studies.

As I have said, we really like Home School in the Woods and have reviewed or written about several of their products:

At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew. The families reviewed a variety of different products from multiple product lines and have shared their experiences with it. Click below to read more.



Geology and Apologetics ~ a Crew review

Geology and Apologetics

Several years ago, I was introduced to Northwest Treasures. I have spent much time wandering over their site and thinking that so many of their materials and courses looked so good. When I was offered an opportunity to review one of the online courses, I jumped at the chance. I was so excited to receive Geology and Apologetics. We also received Taking the Mystery Out of Geology.

Northwest Treasures is a company that was born out of a passion for truth and understanding of the world we live in. Patrick Nurre began by sharing his own finds and understandings with others. More and more folks were interested in understanding how it all fits together so he found himself sharing in more places and in more ways. This is how Northwest Treasures was born and it is quite a resource!


Taking the Mystery Out of Geology

This is a single video that runs about 20 minutes and is recommended for grade 5 and up. Because geology is the foundation of science, it is something we should be familiar with. In this video, Mr. Nurre walks us through some of the Biblical framework for geology, as well as all sciences. He reminds us that we need to begin with understanding God’s word; it should be our starting point and we should not deviate from it. Second, he encourage all science to be taught from a Biblical worldview, so that all grow up understanding God’s infallible truths. He then covers 13 different terms that really clarify the scientific discussions. By understanding these terms, one can speak more clearly and confidently. Some of the terms that are important include science (not history but is something that can be tested, observed, or repeated), history (things that have taken place), and a number of others.

Y’all the minute we had finished this video, all three of the girls were already speaking more confidently about what they were hearing and understanding. I have heard a number of times since we watched this video the statement “That isn’t science!” When asked why it wasn’t, the response was “It cannot be tested, observed and/or repeated.” If the girls understand nothing else from this video, it is enough. It provides a confidence in understanding all science.

We will be watching this video again but I will do it differently the next time. I am going to create a worksheet or have the girls take notes about each of the terms, as defined in this video. Just listening to the terms really was not enough. I stopped the video after each term and we discussed it. But the terms were new to most of us so one time through was not enough. A list of the terms to take notes with or a notebook page to write about the terms will help in that regard.


Geology and Apologetics

This is a series of six video lessons. They run from about 11 minutes to 25 minutes each. Each lesson address a different part of understanding the Biblical approach to geology and how it differs from the secular teaching so prevalent in geology. The teachings of modern geology leave out belief and religion. This removal takes us very far from the Bible and led to a number of issues. By understanding, clarifying the issues, and setting the record straight, we can speak confidently.

This class is recommended for grades 8 – adult. I feel this is a fairly good age recommendation for complete understanding but I have found that my 9 year old has gained quite a bit from these videos. Don’t count out that younger students can pick up some information by listening.

images from videos

Lesson 1 addresses apologetics. If you cannot stand solidly by the Bible as the word of God, he has some recommendations about how to work through that using scripture. If you do not have this point confidently in hand, you will not be prepared to engage in discussions regarding modern geology and where it deviates from scripture.

Lesson 2 works on “clarifying the coflict between science and the Bible.” The conflict is about a view of the earth, not about facts or science, according to Mr. Nurre.  Modern science puts forth that science is right and myth-believing Christians are wrong. He focuses quite a bit on the definitions of science, history, and philosophy.

Lesson 3 works through the chronologies and genealogies of Genesis. Mr. Nurre specifically looks at Genesis and how they are approached in scripture. This relates back to where he ended lesson 1 – are you fully standing behind the Bible as being fully true? Using the scriptures of Genesis, Mr. Nurre helps us look at and understand what is read. Understanding this is helpful in discussions about the age of the earth and completion of the records.

Lesson 4 discusses the gaps in the fossil record and how they are addressed in modern geology. Much of modern geology has not been observed and so the interpretation of information is a philosophy. This lack of written records leaves us relying on the rocks and fossils to understand history of the earth. The gaps in the fossil record are well addressed in this video, really addressing the fallacies of evolution. He compares beliefs of modern geology with Biblical beliefs.

Lesson 5 specifically addresses evolution and how modern science argues for dinosaur to bird evolution. It builds off of lesson 4 and the gaps that are found in the fossil record. It is a fascinating look at how many people inaccurately argue for their understanding or position. The information presented in this lesson will help you state why the fossil record does not support this example of evolution.

Lesson 6 helps to understand time and chronology better, specifically how modern science represents it. The contrast of the geologic column and time spectrums is interesitng and Mr. Nurre does a really good job of helping us see the fallacies in the arguments that are presented by modern geologists.

These videos are fascinating and really are a wonderful tool to use to help students see the fallacies presented by modern science. When you understand the terminology and apply it with understanding to the Bible, there is little room left for accepting many of the positions of modern science, specifically geology.

scriptures for defense

What I Think

If you can’t tell, I have been thrilled with these videos. I have watched them twice now, myself and plan to have my girls watch them again, also. There were some issues with trying to play them through our computer, as they would freeze or just be really slow and jerky with the buffering. However, I found that I could access Vimeo (the platform the lessons are on) through our TV and the videos run perfectly on there.

I highly recommend these videos from Northwest Treasures for anyone who wants to better understand the issues that modern geology presents and how to counter those issues. Knowing the scriptures is first of all what you have to do. But understanding the terminology that goes along with that and how they say it all fits together will help you speak more confidently on the issues. I am hoping that we can use their course on Dinosaurs and the Bible at some point soon. They also have classes, curriculum, and guided trips about the National Parks that I find really interesting. Perhaps we can work that in somewhere, as well. I know it would be fascinating.

At Home.

Northwest Treasures sent us both of these video series but some other Crew members received Dinosaurs and the Bible. Read about what other families thought by clicking on the banner below. Connect with Northwest Treasures through Facebook and Pinterest.



Texas Bucket List – Independence ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet


Maybe it was intended that I should write about Independence, TX, on the week of our country’s independence. Works out nice, don’tcha think?

We visited Independence, TX, last year. Twice actually. The first time was just At Home Dad and I. The second time we took the girls. We did that because we had really enjoyed our time in that area and wanted to share it with the girls.

historic buildings

Independence is a place where education, government, and history all come together. From historic buildings to the birthplace of universities to the home of a Texas president (Sam Houston), this small Texas town is an interesting place to visit. The cemetery, just outside of the town, has lots of unique markers and a large number of important grave sites.

Read more about Independence, TX, from a previous post about it and the Antique Rose Emporium there. It is definitely a neat field trip option for those that are just a couple of hours away. And if you are farther, there are some neat vacation rentals and you could make an overnight or more of it. There is plenty more to do in the area, including Washington-on-the-Brazos (which I just realized I must not have shared about yet – upcoming post!) and the small town of Chapell Hill (another I must not have shared yet).

waterfall and butterflies

This is definitely a neat place to visit and I am glad we stumbled upon it when we did. Texas history really comes alive when you can visit some of the places where history happens.

At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock
F – Flowers
G – Gulf Coast
H – Hot Air Balloons



This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

The Master and His Apprentices ~ a Crew review


Art history is something that I am not well versed in but something that I can see the benefit of. Being able to relate history and art can bring an understanding of past cultures, religions, and world events. That is what was sought by The Master and His Apprentices when creating this curriculum.

Authored by Gina Ferguson, The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective is a versatile curriculum. When approached as noted in the Teacher’s Guide and the syllabus found there, this program can serve as a full credit for high school. However, it could also serve as a supplemental curriculum for any level, or as a refresher (or first art history) course for adults. The versatility is part of what makes this a nice study, though I might classify this more as a history study than an art study.

chapter 2 start and worksheet

As written, the program consists of a textbook and a teacher’s guide. Included in the teacher’s guide, there is a suggested syllabus or schedule, discussion guides and worksheets for each chapter, and four tests. There are also art history papers to write four times in the course. In addition to these, there are helpful suggestions for teaching the course in different settings (homeschool vs a co-op type setting) and an answer key for the discussion questions/worksheets. The teacher’s guide is available either in a PDF format or a printed softback format.

The textbook for The Master and His Apprentices is where the meat of this program is found. It is a hefty 380 pages of text and full-color images. We received it as a fixed-format PDF that can be printed but it is also available in the printed format. We have been using it directly off the computer and that is really quite difficult, especially with the timelines being so important for understand the relationships of different people, places, and artifacts.

The program goes from an introduction to art history and then into the art of God’s creation. From there, different people and times are addressed.  Included are

  • Ancient Cultures
  • Classical Antiquity
  • Middle Ages
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque Era & Beyond

There is also an appendix containing some articles to further study topics and ideas, a period chart, a timeline, a listing of pieces by location, an index, and a couple of other required elements (like acknowledgements).

Working through the text, the information covered the history of an era or people and then some of the artwork, artifacts, architecture, and other pieces that represent them. The text is arranged chronologically. Each period is begun with an introduction to the history and place. The setting within world history and Christian history is a significant part of this portion. Then, it features works of art that are seen as important, either for secular or Biblical reasons.

cover and questions

Our Use of the Program

We have worked through about the first 3 chapters. What we have found is that, while interesting, it is necessary to skip parts of the text for continuity’s sake. Sometimes, the author’s attempt to keep God at the center really diminishes the ability to understand the information shared. The text often seems preachy and heavy-handed in the attempt to keep the Christian perspective so visible.

The worksheets that are in the teacher’s guide correspond to each chapter. Each culture basically gets its own chapter. The worksheets are simply numbered questions or statements designed to help the student think. These are great if your student is a worksheet oriented thinker but if you child is a discussion oriented thinker, these don’t really do much for the student. The teacher definitely has to get involved, which then makes for some good discussions.

After having using this program for a few weeks, we are going to modify it for continued use. We are going to go to the end and work forward. We have found is that because so much of the study is history based, you have to have something to tie it together with. If you do not have that timeline in your head to place the new cultures and pieces in, it is just random information that doesn’t really go anywhere or connect to anything. So, we are going to start with pieces that are recognizable and artists that we have studied. This will allow Miss E to connect with the material more concretely. Working backward through time will help her understand where things fit together and will help the material make more sense.

Because I am not a fan of the worksheets as they are designed in this program, we are going to create a project for each chapter for her to demonstrate her understanding and grasp of information. It might be a timeline for the chapter or a crossword puzzle with the names of artists and their works. It might be a drawing or a recreation of one of the pieces of artwork.


The other thing we are going to do is print the text and print the large timeline from the appendix of the text. Reading online is just not as brain-engaging as reading from a piece of paper. I don’t know why but we have found this to be true over and over. We will keep the PDF file handy for viewing the pieces in color since we only have a black-and-white printer. Having the printed timeline will also allow her to color code to her heart’s content and mark those connections that she finds and understands.

If you are looking for art history or a history program through art, take a look at this program. Because it is a Christian perspective, The Master and His Apprentices does not contain nudity. It is, however, unashamedly Christian. Each chapter has multiple references to God, the Bible, and Biblical history. There are specific paragraphs in each section reminding the reader to praise God and thank Him for so many wonderful creations.

I don’t mind the bold statements of Christianity and belief. However, there are some statements that are leaps of understanding. There are statements that I don’t necessarily agree with, even being Christian. I see these particularly in the second chapter on the creation account from the book of Genesis in the Bible. I think if we have any additional children use this, we will just skip that chapter.

At Home.

Many other families have used this program in various ways. Please click the banner below to see how they used The Master and His Apprentices.


The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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