Homeschool Convention Tips

Homeschool Convention Tips

We are just back from what has undeniably been our most favorite homeschool conference ever.  We have been to several conferences over the years, and The Teach Them Diligently Convention is one that just blesses my soul over and over again.  The founders have a true heart for discipleship and equipping homeschooling parents to reach their children for the Lord.

With that said, my little ones had a really good time as well.  Elijah, age 10, had a really cute idea to make a video during the conference.  Are you looking for some Homeschool Convention Tips? With a little help from my dear husband they made a hilarious video that still cracks me up every time I watch it.  Hope you enjoy!


Saving Memories Forever

I have always been intrigued by history.  Our favorite way to learn about history, in fact, is not from textbooks but from real, living books, biographies, autobiographies, and personal experiences.  Learning about the history of my family is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but have just not had or made the time to do it.  What better way to learn your family’s history than from the members of your family?

Saving Memories Forever is a great way to preserve those family memories so that they won’t be lost.  Saving Memories Forever  is also really easy to use.  Saving Memories Forever is a really cool app that allows you to interview family members and add pictures, recipes, photos, etc.  Here are some of my favorite things about Saving Memories Forever :

We had a great time playing around with the Saving Memories Forever  as a family, and I can’t wait to use it to interview my grandmother and parents. To get started preserving those memories be sure to check out Saving Memories Forever .

Spanish For You Curriculum Review

Are you looking for an easy and inexpensive way to teach Spanish in your homeschool?  You will want to check out Spanish For You!

Spanish For You is an excellent Spanish curriculum that teaches Spanish using a themed approach.  You choose the theme that you’d like to study.  You can choose from the following:

  • Viajes (Travels)
  • Fiestas (Celebrations)
  • Estaciones (Seasons)
Spanish For You creator Debbie Annett has designed Spanish For You so that you can choose to start with any themed unit.  Spanish for you is designed to be used with children in grades 3-8.  You can purchase the package you want per grade level OR purchase the entire package to be used with all of your kids in grasdes 3-8.  Each package comes with the following:
  • soft cover book or e-book 
  • 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need  (PDF download)
  • self-checking worksheets (PDF download)
  • audio files of entire book (includes bonus audio of native speaker of entire book) (MP3 download)
  • flashcard/activity pictures (PDF download)

Flashcards play a big role in the effectiveness of the Spanish For You curriculum.  Flashcards are a great way  to practice what you’re learning.  There are some great activity ideas on the Spanish For You site to help review the flashcards.

We had a chance to check out the Estacionies unit from Spanish For You.  Estaciones teaches Spanish using the theme Seasons.  You start by learning the days of the week, months of the year.  The curriculum then builds as it goes introducing new concepts with each lesson.  The students have plenty of opportunity to practice with fun learning games and activities.

There are also worksheets and audios that go along with each lesson to help the students practice what they are learning.  I got the e-book version of Spanish For You.  I really prefer e-books for certain types of curriculum especially since I like to use it with multiple kiddos.

Overall, I’d say that Spanish For You would make for a wonderful and affordable addition to your homeschool!

You can find out more about Spanish for You and see their curriculum pricing here.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Spanish For You in order to facilitate this review as part of the Homeschool Mosaics Review Team.  However, all opinions and stories in this review are mine.


The Croods Creators are No Young Earth Creationists – A Review

My kids have been wanting to go see the Croods ever since it first came out.  I hesitated because I really wasn’t sure how it would be presented.  I knew that it was going to be about early man, and expected it to be very evolutionary in content.

My expectations were exactly correct.

The Croods are what would be called “Cavemen”.  They lived in a cave to protect them from harm out in the real world.  They acted like animals, they had features like animals.  These “people” are a cross between animal and human.  Wonder where that idea came from?

What am I talking about?  ***WARNING SPOILERS*****

  • The father partially walking on his hands and feet
  • The hunting scene was very much like a National Geographic Video of a lion going after it’s prey.  Did I mention these are humans hunting prey?
  • The Baby?  Oh my..The baby was like a little wild animal that only growled and ran around on all fours.
  • Do you remember the scene in The Lion King where Simba and Nala were wrestling around with one another.  There was a very similar scene between 2 of the characters in The Croods, but between HUMANS, not lions.
  • They all had to sniff the new guy.
  • The point was made that they were NOT very intelligent.  The new guy who was more “evolved” was able to make fire, have innovative ideas, etc.  The “cavemen” were in awe of such things.
I could go on, but You get the idea, right?

According to the Bible this is not how early humans behaved.  Early Humans had livestock, played instruments, and even worked with Bronze and Iron.

Genesis 4:20-22 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.   His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

Remember Cain and Abel??  They were shepherd and farmer!

Genesis 4: 3-4 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,

That doesn’t sound to me like they were primitive half man half beasts with only partial intelligence!  Humans ARE NOT and NEVER WERE ANIMALS!!!  No, we were created in His image.

Human Beings – Are we animals Video

Do you really think that a loving God who created the entire universe with all of it’s intricacies isn’t intelligent?

So, should you take your kids to see The Croods?

I think that’s completely up to  you, but I’m glad I did.  Even with all the untruths it provided for some EXCELLENT learning conversation on the ride home.  My kids are decently equipped to handle such things, and it was really a great way to illustrate to them the evolutionary ideas so rampant in our society.

I also MUST mention – it was the very best 3D movie I’ve seen.  The effects were wonderful!



Get Organized with Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planners

Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Ok, so I have a confession to make.  Here goes – I am one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet.

Yes, it’s true.

I often meet people who find out that I have 6 children and that we homeschool.  They automatically assume that I am like Michelle Duggar(Six kids, Twenty-one kids… What’s the difference, right?), and therefore am in control and uber organized.


Here’s the thing…due to my lack of organization skills I MUST have a plan for all things important.  Planning our meals, planning our cleaning schedules, planning our homeschool, planning field trips, etc is vital to keeping our household going.  Now this may sound a little strange.  After all, I just said I was disorganized, and if I have plans for things I must be organized, right?

NO…I have to plan BECAUSE I am unorganized.

Homeschooling, whether you have 1 kid or 10 kids, is a huge task.  There are about a million different curriculums (curricula?) you can choose from and different methodologies and philosophies and so on.  In our homeschool we don’t stick to just one curriculum or resource.  I do use curriculum, but I hardly ever follow the provider’s pre-made plans.  I also love to add in things like field trips, you tube videos, audios, games, extra books, and projects that greatly enrich our homeschool experience.

This is where it’s so important to have a good tool to use so that we can have a plan to fit everything in.  The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell is an excellent choice!  Everything you could possibly think of to plan your homeschool year has a place.  There’s a grid for the year at a glance, a place to set goals for your children, planning guides, monthly planner, weekly planner.  You can also find a spot to record Grades, Reading Lists, Activities and more.

One of the things I really love about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell is the wisdom between the planner pages.  I had the privilege of hearing Debra Bell Speak last month at a retreat, and I was so blessed by her talk.  She has some really great advice in the planner about planning your student’s homeschool work for the year.  She explains exactly how to use the guide, but of course you can easily tweak it to fit your style.  I love the inspiring quotes on each page and the durability of the cover as well.

You’ll find some excellent teaching resources inside The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell as well.  Such as a Checklist for Rasing an Independent Learner or Motivating the Reluctant Learner.  There are tips for finding your child’s learning style as well as many other great ideas.

The thing about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell is that it’s not just a planner for you.  It’s a whole system that’s designed to work for your entire family.  I also had a chance to check out the Ultimate Daily Planner for Students.  The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students is such a great resource to help your students become involved in their homeschool planning.  It includes an AWESOME resource called the Study Smart Student Toolkit which I know is going to be so valuable to us as a family.  My husband read over the Study Smart Student Toolkit, and loved it so much that he asked me to go through it with all of my kids.  Did I also mention that there is a scripture and presidential trivia listed on each day.  That’s a great way to get some extra knowledge into the minds of our children.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell is a wonderful resource, and I would highly recommend it if you are a paper planner kinda person!  It’s reasonably priced at $29 and honestly is worth it if only for the wisdom and resources included.



We Choose Virtues Family Character Training

The We Choose Virtues Character Training program is definitely something that fills a huge need in our homeschool!  Learning about and practicing virtues is such an important thing.  In fact, one of the major reasons that we homeschool is to be able to teach our children virtues on a daily basis – like Attentiveness, Contentment, Diligence Forgivness, Gentleness, Obedience, etc.  When we are dealing with little ones with sinful natures it’s certainly not something that can be perfected overnight or over one lesson.

We Choose Virtues is NOT just a lesson a day then you’re done curriculum.  Once you introduce a virtue the children have opportunities to practice them daily and often.  Each virtue has a character and a catch phrase that the child learns to give them something to help remember it.

One of my favorite things about We Choose Virtues is the Family Assessment form.  You fill out one of these for each member of your family to see which virtues you’ll need to work on first.  I highly recommend going through one of these with each of your children as it will bring on some wonderful conversations.  You also might consider going through it for yourself.  We can all use some improvement in these areas, and this can be very eye opening.

As a family, we chose to do the Obedient Virtue first.  Obedience is such an important thing for the children to learn.  Once you introduce the character and the catch phrase the family has an opportunity to “practice” the virtue.  I love the idea of trying to “Catch them” being virtuous and reward them at times.

My younger ones especially love the coloring pages to go with each virtue!

Our family is loving the We Choose Virtues program, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to teach these to  their children.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of We Choose Virtues in order to facilitate this review as part of the Homeschool Mosaics Review Team.  However, all opinions and stories in this review are mine.

Creating A Masterpiece Art Instruction DVD

Isaiah 64:8 —- But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Have you seen all the wonderful Art Instruction DVDs from Creating a Masterpiece?  One of the things that my kids love to do is create art.  I am always finding their doodles and drawings all over the house.  While they are definitely very artistic, we’ve never actually tried an art curriculum.  Art always seems to be one of those subjects that I always would love to add, but never get around to it.

This is where Creating a Masterpiece comes in.  Creating a Masterpiece is a wonderful company that has several different art instruction videos to choose from.  They have so many choices like Acrylics, Copper Tooling, Pastels, Sculpture, and more.  I had a difficult time deciding which one we wanted to use, but went with the sculpture DVDs.  My boys love to work with their hands, and I thought this would be a great creative outlet for them.  I couldn’t wait to see what they came up with.

There are 3 different Sculpture instruction DVDs to choose from at Creating a Masterpiece.  We decided to go with The Turtle first since my boys had never had any experience with sculpting other than with modeling clay.  I love how Creating a Masterpiece has a list on their site of every single item you’ll need to complete each project.  I was able to pull it up on my smart phone from the craft store and get everything we needed.

The boys had such a great time making their turtles.  While I have 6 kiddos, I only had my 4 oldest do the sculpting.  All 4 of the boys, ages 7-10, were able to follow the DVD instructions easily.  Sharon Hofer is an excellent instructor, and explained difficult tasks very well so that they could understand them with no problems.  There were 4 different sessions on the DVD, but we decided to go straight through with all of them.  They really wanted to keep going so they did.

I was so impressed with what they were able to accomplish with the instruction on the DVD.  Their turtles look so great!  They weren’t able to paint them yet because it takes almost a week for the clay to dry, and that has to happen first before you can paint them.  I’ll be sure to post a new picture of the painted ones once they’re complete.  Isn’t it amazing that those cute turtles can come from just a big blob of clay!

How would you like to share these amazing DVDs with your kiddos?  Here’s your chance.  Thanks to Creating a Masterpiece one of you will be able to win your very own Sculpture DVD!

It’s easy to enter. All you have to do is leave a comment with your answer to this question?

Which Creating a Masterpiece DVD would you love to try first? See choices here.

The will be chosen on Monday April 8th.

This is a compensated post, but all opinions are mine.


Teaching Children to Manage Money with FamilyMint

There are so many things that I would love for my children to master before they leave our home.  While there are some things they will just have to learn on their own by making mistakes and learning from them I would love to give them a strong foundation so that those mistakes can be minimized or at least not be devastating.

There are a few crises going on right now with our young people in this country.  On of them is the fact that so many do not know how to manage their money.  There are so many people going further and further into debt until they are in such a financial hole that they cannot climb out.    This was us at one point, but thankfully we are doing much better.  As of this month we have finally become DEBT FREE except for our home mortgage!  It was not an easy road, but it’s done and we are so thankful  We have no intentions of going back into debt, and I want to teach my children those same principles.

Learning to manage your money is not just something that “clicks” once you move out and get a job and have bills to pay.  Once that happens the credit card “offers” start coming in and before you know it you’re in huge debt and paying the minimum payments on credit cards that will take years to pay off.  This is why I believe there is a HUGE need for a curriculum for homeschoolers and families to help teach our children how to handle their money.  We can tell them what to do, but until they try it for themselves they just don’t exactly “get it”.

FamilyMint has stepped up in a huge way to meet that need with the FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program.

What is FamilyMint?

The FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program is A Complete Step-by-Step Program for Learning Money Management.  FamilyMint will teach your child the following very important concepts:

  • Tracking their money
  • Creating SMART goals
  • Easy budgeting
  • How interest works
  • And much more!

There are 2 parts to the FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program.  There is a workbook that you can go through with your child which has exercises and activities they can go through that will teach them about managing their money.  The workbook is ideal for kiddos ages 10 and up so I chose to use it with my oldest who will be 11 in July.  He was very eager to get started!

The second part of FamilyMint is their online application that allows your children to put what they are learning into action.  They can keep up with their allowance or other money coming in and set savings goals.  You can set up multiple children on one account so it’s really great for families like mine with multiple kiddos.

I really love how you can use the workbook along with the online application.  My oldest loves doing things on the computer much more than filling out worksheets on paper so I am so glad that there’s the option to do many of the activities online rather than in the workbook.  My son keeps his workbook next to him as he works along with the online application.

It took me only a few minutes to get my 2 oldest boys set up on FamilyMint.  The very first thing my oldest wanted to do was change his avatar to a picture of himself.

We already have a chore system in place.  We use an iPod application for the kiddos to track their chores each day as they are done.  They receive points for each chore and at the end of the week they can trade points for screen time or money.  FamilyMint will be a GREAT place to keep track of the money that they are earning.

We then deposited the balance of Elijah’s piggy bank into his account, and he wanted to set up a savings goal.  He’s been wanting a Wii U for a while now, and so he’s going to start saving up for one.  Reality kicked in when he saw that it was going to take him until next May to save up for it if he saves half of his allowance.  I LOVE how FamilyMint automatically calculates that for you.  I pray that he is able to meet that goal because I think it will teach him many good things like patience, perseverance, etc.  He also added a shorter term savings goal for a small toy he’s been wanting to buy.

The FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program starts the child off with teaching them to track their money, and then moves along to setting goals and setting up a budget (So Important).  I wish I’d had a  program like this when I was younger.  It certainly would have kept me from making so many financial mistakes as I “learned as I went a long”.

In Summary, Here are my favorite things about the FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program:

  • It is an easy to use but VERY affective program that will teach your children how to manage their money.
  • The program actually walks them through doing it rather than just telling them about it.  This is great for most folks who can learn better by doing.
  • I love the online application portion.  It is a perfect fit for our family.
  • It is a great bargain at only $29.99 for the entire program!

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who would like to help their children understand the value of being good stewards of what God has given them!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The FamilyMint Money Management Certification Program in order to facilitate this review as part of the Homeschool Mosaics Review Team.  However, all opinions and stories in this review are mine.



Girl in The Woods Blog Planner Review

If any of you are running a business or a blog from home then you know how important it is to be organized. Well, honestly even if you’re not running a business it can be tough to fit it all in.  It’s so easy to let things slip through the cracks when you’re having to balance all the mom stuff, homeschool stuff, and work stuff into one day.  That’s why I really NEED to get organized with my blogging. I always have ideas for things I’d like to post, but they never make it to paper.  Therefore they don’t make it to the screen.

That’s why I think it’s time for me to start using a Blog Planner.  There are so many to choose from that it was really difficult to make a decision.  Until I got to this one.

Why did I choose the Girl in The Woods Blog Planner?

Well, those who know me will see it right away.  If you didn’t already know I am a HUGE coffee lover!  I very much look forward to a big ‘ol cup of coffee every morning while I’m working on my blog so the graphics on this planner drew me in immediately.

I also really love the pretty colors.  They are so pleasing to the eye.  For some reason the colors didn’t print correctly on my printer, but it still looks great.

Another reason I chose The Girl in The Woods Blog Planner is for it’s simplicity.  I am an online organizer kind of gal so I really loved that this provides me with a quick at-a-glance view of what I’m supposed to be doing for the week.

Here’s how I put The Girl in The Woods Blog Planner to use:

  • I printed out a couple of months worth of sheets, and put them in a 3 ring binder.
  • I also printed out a calendar for March and placed it in the front.
  • I made a pretty cover for the front of the binder, and voila, now it’s ready to set on my desk and refer to as I’m working on my site each day.
Note:  If you come back tomorrow I’ll have some pictures to illustrate how I am using the planner.


Reading Lesson at The Creation Museum

We had an opportunity to go to The Creation Museum in Kentucky a few months ago, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience.  One of my favorite features of The Creation Museum is the gardens.  They are absolutely beautiful!  My children love walking through and seeing the wildlife, and getting up close with God’s creation.

One of the things that is so special about The Creation Museum Gardens is the presence of Scripture. There are verses scattered in various places throughout the gardens reminding us of The Lord’s Words while we are enjoying His creation.

I was looking through photos from our trip, and I found this video that I made from an impromptu reading lesson while we were in the gardens. This video is such a blessing to me as it reminds me of the wonderful time our family had.


Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Sweet Kids.


Silly Kids


This post is linked up at Homeschool Link Up Fridays.