Category Archives: writing

Creative Freewriting Adventure ~ a Crew review

Creative Freewriting Adventure review

Two of the three giggly girls are tremendous writers and seem to really enjoy finding creative outlets for their writing. This continuous search for various writing outlets was one of the reason we were interested in the Creative Freewriting Adventure from Home School Adventure Co. We also received a copy of the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition.

Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book EditionCreative Freewriting Adenture

 Stacy Ferrell is the author of this writing supplement. She has written various curriculums published through Home School Adventure Co, including Philosophy Adventure, Walking with the Waodani, Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide, and I’d Rather Be Your Mommy.

Creative Freewriting Adventure was developed as a supplemental writing program to complement various other programs published by the company, including The Wise Woman with Analysis Journal, Philosophy Adventure, and Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal. The idea was to give the students some opportunities for fun, creative writing in the midst of a longer-term, more intensive writing project.writing about Thales

This program contains 10 exercises, some of which actually have two writing activities. Each exercise begins with some background information, a descriptive scene (titled Your Journey), and Your Assignment. The exercises include the philosophers Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and Democritus. There are four exercises on The Wise Woman. The final two exercises are centered a bit more on themes from Mere Christianity.

After the student has read the information and Your Journey, the Your Assignment part takes them into the writing. These are a series of questions designed to jog the student’s memory, give them ideas and help them find ways to increase the descriptiveness of their writing. Then, a timer is set for 15 minutes and the writing begins. At 15 minutes, the exercise is over. If the girls were on a roll, I never stopped them at 15 minutes. They wanted to finish the story that was running in their heads, so I let them.

This quick but creative process is what I thought would appeal greatly to my girls. I was mistaken here. While some of the prompts worked really well (Thales falling in a well and the one with talking animals), others were complete dead ends for the girls. We tried several of them more than once with a break in between. It was just a no-go.

I believe that these did not work as well for the girls because they like to write and they write often. They are so creative that they felt boxed in by the prompts and they felt like  many of the exercises ended the story rather than giving them an opening for continuing the story.

The background information was where we got the most joy from these lessons. Miss E has been studying Ancient Greece and the first four exercises include some information on some of the Greek philosophers. This was pretty fascinating for her (and me). It was also writing about talking animalsfun for us to revisit some of the story of The Wise Woman, which we reviewed a couple of years ago.

We received PDF downloads of both the Creative Freewriting Adventure and the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. There is very little difference between the two. They both include the same written information and printable pages for doing the creative writing assignment on. The coloring book edition also includes a coloring page for each of the exercises.

If you have an older student who needs some ideas for writing, some prompts, or some questions to help them get more creative and descriptive in their writing, this might be a good supplement for you to look at.

At Home.


Homeschool Review Crew families have been using the Creative Freewriting Adventure, Walking with the Waodani, Celebrating Manhood, and I’d Rather Be Your Mommy. Click the banner below to read more reviews.

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Creativity Encouraged


We love to encourage the girls to be creative. Whether it is through crafts, arts, or other means, creativity strengthens the brain and allows personal expression and out of the box thinking. These are extremely important in healthy development and critical thinking ability.

Because we believe so strongly in encouraging creativity, I was thrilled when we received an unexpected review product in the mail – Thinking Tree Journals! I had hoped to receive one but nope. We were given six to review. I am going to talk about three of them today and the others will be in an additional post next week.

These journals are just a few of the many products created by Sarah Janisse Brown and her family through their company Thinking Tree Publishing. This homeschooling family has created these journals that can be easily adapted to fit whatever need your family has. Today, I’ll be discussing the Poetry Writing Journal, the Creative Writing Journal, and the Big Sister and Little Sister Coloring Book.


Poetry Writing Journal

The official title of this one is Poetry Writing Journal- Color, Draw & Doodle: Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling. It is a soft back journal with laminated paper covers that are very study. It is approximately 9 x 12, so just bigger than a piece of notebook paper. It has white pages with black print. Each two-page spread has a page with an image to color or draw and a page with lines for writing poetry to go along with the image. There are 38 two-page spreads so quite a bit of opportunity for poetry creation and coloring/drawing.


Upon arrival at the house, this one was grabbed up by Miss L. She is 10 and absolutely adores poetry. Creating poetry is one of her very favorite things to do. She immediately sat down and wrote a poem based off of one of the images in the book. She has not colored it the image yet but the poem is just a joy to read. She has since created some others but here is her first one in the book.


Creative Writing Journal

This journal is similar in physical aspects to the poetry journal. It is just bigger than a notebook page and has a soft cover. It includes over 40 two-page spreads for writing stories. One page is an image or a place to draw and doodle images and the other is a lined page for writing a story to accompany the image. The images can be colored and so make a nice combination of image and story. This encourages creativity by giving a prompt that is still somewhat specific but yet very open to interpretation.


Miss E, age 12, grabbed this book upon opening the box of journals and immediately chose an image to spin her story off of. Her story was a joy to read and definitely reflects her personality. She wrote it and enjoyed sharing the story with the family. There are many more images to prompt stories or other writings from and I can’t wait to see what all will come of this style of writing prompts.


Big Sister and Little Sister – a Coloring Book for Two

This is one I really expected to be snapped up. The girls were really excited about it when they saw it but it has only been used once or twice since it arrived. Perhaps with all the excitement about the other journals, this one has been kind of buried. Yet, I think it will be lots of fun for the girls to enjoy together since Miss E and Miss J enjoy listening to audio books together.


This coloring books is also approximately 9×12 and is a soft cover journal. The book has plenty of two-page spreads to keep the sisters coloring together for a while, even if they did one every single day. There are over 30 sets of coloring pages with dulpicate images on both sides of the spread. Some are labeled as big sister and little sister, while others are not. Some of them are printed on both the front and back of pages but there are a number of the image sets that are printed on one side of the page only so that the sisters can color with markers if they choose to without ruining another picture that was colored. I love that thoughtfulness of detail!

My thoughts:

I truly am thankful to have these journals. They came just a couple of days before At Home Dad has shoulder surgery so they provided an easy way to continue schooling when we needed to be busy and away from home a bit more. They could easily be taken to grandma’s house during those first few days of recovery and grandma could encourage school without having to push math or science.

Creative engagement of the brain strengthens it in so many ways and it definitely encourages stretching of thinking and ideas. Allowing the girls to think differently and to express it in a variety of ways is so helpful to them and their development. Thinking differently is a definite advantage and I believe that these Thinking Tree journals are another tool that encourages the giggly girls to think in whatever way they desire. Stronger thinkers are stronger people. Thank you, Thinking Tree, for allowing us to experience some of your wonderful tools for training strong thinkers.

The next Thinking Tree post will include Travel Dreams Journal, Spelling Time, and Mom’s Fun-Schooling Handbook.

At Home.


Story Cubes Story Time


Miss J was given a new set of story cubes the other day and decided to use them this afternoon to create a new story. Here is her fun story:


There was a little girl and she was using a map to find treasure in a cave. Her name was Ezil and she saw the treasure. It was a key. She was puzzled. Then she saw a door. But it was locked. Then she saw that there were two pictures that were the same on the door and on the key and unlocked the door. There was a new world with planes that were always full! And apples with notes in them! And canes that were made out of sugar cane! And clocks that were just on time to tick-tock! And it snowed there but it never did get cold! And the best thing of all is that there are NO LOCKS!


Hope you enjoyed reading about her new land! Story Cubes are a fantastic way to prompt some creative writing and allow tons of freedom for the student. This is not a post that is sponsored. It is a product we love. We have three or four sets of story cubes, as each set has different characters. If you don’t have any, I highly recommend them.

At Home.

The Rhetoric Companion ~ a review


Rhetoric is something that I believe is highly misunderstood. Maybe just by me, but especially by me. I found this book to be interesting but extremely challenging.

Timberdoodle sent me The Rhetoric Companion set which includes both the student book and the answer key. This is a high school level course to guide students to become skilled in the power of persuasion.

If you are like me, you tend to expect rhetoric to be an attempt to persuade you to believe someone else’s version of the truth. I tend to think of it as carefully crafted statements made by politicians to make you believe something without knowing any of the truth or having any kind of support. I am happy to tell you that true rhetoric is not that at all. Turns out, I could really benefit from this course.

rhetoric-companion-coverThe Rhetoric Companion is written to teach high schoolers so it is on a bit higher reading and comprehension level than most books you will pick up. Expect to be challenged with your reading and don’t be surprised when you have to go back and reread paragraphs to get the entire meaning. I have had to work at memorizing words that I have heard but not really understood before due to the fact that they are used quite often in the teaching of rhetoric. This is quite the challenge.

Presented in a logical manner, the lessons in The Rhetoric Companion are classical education from a Christian standpoint. Carefully thought out statements are the crux of the teachings in each lesson. From understanding the history of true rhetoric to how to incorporate the five canons, these lessons guide the students through true training in crafting a presentation that is arranged correctly and worded strongly. By the completion of the course, the student’s ability will have grown by enormous bounds.

rhetoric-companion-quote-and-lessonWith 31 lessons and an appendix on language study, this book is a full year’s study. Each lesson includes approximately four pages of reading followed by a listing of suggested readings, several exercises to complete, and review questions. The answer key is simply that and gives the suggested answers for the review questions. Throughout each of the lessons, there are tidbits of wisdom and quotes of great authors sprinkled at the edges of the page. I have gotten almost as much out of these little snippets as I have from reading the lessons.

Expect challenges. Expect hard work. Expect the exercises to stretch and push you. Expect growth. If you are expecting those things, The Rhetoric Companion set will be of great benefit to you.

Timberdoodle has provided a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. They have The Rhetoric Companion as part of their 12th Grade complete curriculum package. Timberdoodle has also generously offered to send two (2) readers each one (1) copy of The Rhetoric Companion. This is open to US mailing addresses only. This softback book will be a grand addition to your own learning or that of your student. Please click on the following link to be taken to the Rafflecopter entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

At Home.

Disclosure general

Path – Five Minute Friday

Today’s post prompt is “path” so here goes . . .

Path Five Min Fri

A path is a way. A way through something. I think of the path that my dad has worn around their property. He used it in the past for cycling, to get ready to ride the Great Divide ride from Canada to Mexico. He used it to rehab from an accident. He then used it to prep for hiking around Mt. Rainier. Since then, it has been his and my mom’s exercise path.

It used to be full of trees and lots of cactus and wind through some of the easier ways. Since the fire went through, the path is less of a way “through” and a way to go from here to there.

But when I look at it, I see it as so much more.

This path is an example of perseverance. This path is an example of not giving up. This path is an example of trying hard and then trying even harder. This path is an example of bringing people together, because when we go visit, at least one of the girls wants to walk the “mail trail” with Papa.

This path is a reminder that things change. Sometimes that change is simple, like stepping over the beautiful sunflower that popped up in the middle of the path, and sometimes the change is much, much harder, such as when the fire came through and the path had to be redone almost from nothing.

Along the way, there are beautiful signs of prosperity. Not physical prosperity but rather that prosperity that comes from God – beauty, strength, hope, and moving forward. Most of the time, it is not the way forward we would have chosen or foreseen. But this path – it is our way forward now and God’s fingerprints are all over it. Look closely. That path? It is a way forward and, just maybe, a way through at the same time. END


Well, that was harder to actually put into words than I thought it would be. Don’t forget to check out the others who are linking up over at the host blog: heading Home.

At Home.


My New Cereal


my new cereal

My name is Miss L. I am 10 years old. This morning, for my creative writing, I chose to use the writing prompt that told me to make a breakfast cereal that gave the consumer super powers. this is what I wrote on the blank below it:

It would let you talk in all different kinds of languages-Polish, Portuguese, French, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, German, Bulgarian, Swedish, African, Cambodian, Irish, Mexican, Russian, Spanish, Icelandic, Indian, Turkish, Arabian, and even Native American. Everything you can think of-and more! It would taste deliciously fruity, like, really fruity, and not just artificially flavored, with a refreshing taste of mint. I’d come with a pink bowl and spoon to eat it with. And I’d call it Fruity Babble.


At Home. ~ a TOS review

Have you ever had one of those products where, after you get it and use it the first time, you slap your forehead and say “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!?!?!” That is how I felt after the very first time we incorporated notebooking with a study we were already doing using pages from the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership at Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

In all seriousness, I had looked at quite a bit over the past couple of years and thought something along the lines of “Well, I think I would like it but the girls? Not so much.” The reason I thought that was they did not respond well to writing from prompts. They’d do it but it would not be their best writing. I thought that was what notebooking was about. I was wrong. And I am so happy that I was!!

Tutorial is pretty unique in that you aren’t just tossed in there with a whole lot of notebooking pages and no instruction. You can do it that way but it isn’t recommended and you will certainly do yourself a favor if you take advantage of the tutorials that are offered. There are a series of tutorials that walk you through getting set up and understanding what notebooking is really all about. **Hint: it is NOT prompted writing, though it probably can be. That is key for our family.**

Notebooking is writing down the key information in what you are studying. It is not busywork; in fact – this replaces a lot of what we would often include in a study, like a workbook or worksheet. But it is rather the student putting down on paper, in their own words, what was important about the topic. We followed the tutorials very closely and WOW! did it create an almost immediate change in the way the girls processed information.

I’ll walk you through one of the first pages we created. We read a chapter in a book about the medieval times. After we read it out loud, I grabbed a white board. The girls then brainstormed ideas about what was important and stated those things verbally with me writing them down on the board. After they ran out of ideas for what needed written, we talked about it a little bit, clarified any words that might not have been understood, and put things in order if that was important. Then I gave them the pages they had chosen for the topic and asked them to write down the important things. I don’t think at any time that they all chose to write down everything that was on the white board because they didn’t all think the same ideas were important. And that is okay! Here is what two of the girls produced their first time out of the box with this product (Miss J had just broken her arm so while she did the work, it is not very readable, especially when scanned into the computer so I’m skipping hers for now):

So, we are doing this same process with some of the “fun” history and Bible that we are working through this summer. But, this has been such a hit that the girls are constantly asking if they can print a page to write about what they just read in their free-time reading. The girls have written pages on:Miss L working

  • Ancient China
  • Ruth
  • A favorite Bible verse
  • various history readings
  • presidents
  • ballet
  • Roman and Greek gods and goddesses
  • a book summary
  • Joseph Stalin
  • and there are plans for many more!

Very few of these were inspired by me telling them that they needed to do a notebooking page. Most of the time, I would be asked to print off a particular page for someone because the reading had already been done and she had been so interested in it that she wanted to write it down so she could remember it. Truly.

We have set it up using the suggestions on Each child has their own 3-ring binder to keep their work in. I have a teacher’s notebook. In it, I have placed copies of the catalog for the categories that we have used so far. A catalog is a set of pages with thumbnail images of every page available in a given category. So far, the girls have gotten the most use out of the blank pages for any topic. It has allowed for good personalization of the pages.

catalog view

When one of the girls is ready to write, she grabs the teacher notebook and finds the page she wants a copy (or four!) of. We pull up the site and print off the pages. With that, the giggly girl is off to write about her topic. Truly. That simple!

two page view Bible

There are catalogs on the site for a wide variety of topics. Our favorite category so far has been the Any Study category because it allows for so much personalization.categories headings

Let me share with you some of what I overheard my girls saying when grandma was here recently. They proudly grabbed their notebooks and shared with her all of the work they had done. They were excitedly describing things they had learned, the pages they had written and justifying why they had chosen the information. They were so proud! So, overheard:

“You can print out the ones you want.” – Miss J

Miss J Ruth

“It’s like a mini-essay. You get to explain it in your own words. I really like it!” – Miss L

Ruth verse

“I like telling about stuff that I’ve read. I like telling about it myself. I don’t like answering questions someone else has written. I like telling it myself.” – Miss E

And for the win? “I need to work on mine. I have eight topics that I am working on.” – Miss E

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The freedom provided by this method is astounding. I am honestly sad that I didn’t try this sooner because it has transformed the attitude around here. The transformation was immediate. (Note: I do think that following the tutorials had a lot to do with it because it kept me from giving too much narrow guidance and helped me elicit the thoughts from the girls for them to transfer to paper.) From improved comprehension to improved writing skills and handwriting (especially for Miss J now that she is out of the cast on her writing arm!), has changed how we are doing quite a few things in our homeschooling journey and it is definitely for the better. To put it in Miss E’s words “I really, really like notebooking!”

At Home.

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