Thursday, August 30, 2012

Heroines of the Past

A homeschool grad named Amy Puetz has a store full of history books and Bible studies she has written.  Paige and I are going through Heroines of the Past Bible Study.  This book is from:


The home of Golden Prairie Press is located at  Here you can read about Amy's journey and why she started writing books.  The store has audio books, books for boys, books for girls, cookbooks, curriculum, costume books, and more.  Some are written by Amy but not all of the items she sells.


I liked the idea of having a Bible study that was geared more towards Paige instead of an all-family study, and that is what we got in Heroines of the Past Bible Study.  We are currently using this as an e-book, so it doesn't have any of the pretty illustrations that are in the printed book; but it works for us.  We started by reading this book together and going through the Scripture that is included in it.  Paige has enjoyed the stories so much that she will often take my tablet and sit on the couch and read to herself.  Once she gets through the story, we do the Bible study questions and read the Scripture together.  She also writes her memory verse on an index card as is suggested in the book.  She is learning about virtues displayed by real girls/women from the past.  She finds the stories very exciting and is amazed by what these girls did, how courageous and brave they were, and how strong they were in their faith.

There are 13 weeks of stories about princesses, those who lived and died for Jesus, missionaries, wives, nurses, etc.  There are women from all different backgrounds.  This shows the reader that it doesn't matter where you live or what your circumstances are, you can always live for God and be bold in your faith.  This book is written so well that it is engaging for the girl reading it.

One activity that is in this book is keeping a box of visual reminders.  At the end of each week, the reader is encouraged to create a "box of visual reminders."  This box contains an item that will remind them of the heroine they read about.  We are not even halfway through the book yet, but I know that reading it will fill Paige's heart and mind with stories of women she will remember forever.  It will also fill her heart with Scripture that she will always remember.

The book is 263 pages and is recommended for girls ages 8 and up.  Right now, Golden Prairie Press is having a "Back to School Sale," and this book, Heroines of the Past Bible Study, which is regularly $27.00, is now only $21.60. 


If you are interested in reading what others on the Homeschool Crew are saying about this product and others available through Golden Prairie Press, visit

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review of it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Time 4 Writing!!!


Jacob, who is in high school now, has been using an 8-week online writing program for the past four weeks from, so he is halfway through it.  This is a class entirely online which allows the student to work one-on-one with a teacher.  After reading the lesson for the day, the student submits an assignment and waits for the teacher to grade it and provide feedback.  Jacob is able to, then, fix his assignment based on the teacher's recommendations or move onto the next assignment if he scored well.  If an assignment needs corrected, the teacher doesn't score him until he resubmits it.  It seems like he's done more resubmitting than moving on, but he is halfway through the program, which is where he should be.

Photobucket has courses for grades 2 through 12.  Jacob is taking the high school essay writing course.  It is divided into 8 units including pre-writing; writing the thesis; the introductory paragraph; the body; the concluding paragraph; revising, editing, and proofreading; writing the persuasive essay; and publishing your writing.  

Jacob says, "It is a good program.  It has good ideas to help kids learn how to write essays, gives good tips, and helps you to learn better writing techniques."  I asked him if he feels it has helped him become a better writer, and he said it has.  He gets frustrated when he has to redo assignments, but that has helped him think through things a bit better before writing.

Each eight-week course is only $99.  If you aren't sure which course your child should be taking, the teachers will help you to figure that out.  There is also a 14-day money back guarantee in case you aren't satisfied with the program.  I find that I appreciate this program and the feedback from the teacher who is working with Jacob because that is one subject I do not have to teach.  While I feel qualified to teach Jacob how to be a better writer, he takes constructive criticism better when it is coming from someone else.

Time4Writing is flexible with our schedule.  I knew the kids were going to be away at camp for a week, so I just emailed the teacher to let her know.  This gave us an extra week to complete the program.  He has also been able to get on at all different times of the day.  There was one day he didn't get around to doing an assignment until after dinner.  The assignments haven't taken very long for him to do either, probably 15 minutes at the most so far.  There will be longer assignments as the course progresses, but he is not bored or frustrated with this program.

Since Jacob has made it halfway through the course, his teacher sent me an email about his progress.  This was a personalized email about how she felt he was doing in the course and a reminder of how I could go into his profile and read all of the comments she has written about each assignment and the grade he received.

I was curious about the origin of Time4Writing and found this on their website:
"Time4Writing is a product offered by Time4Learning., was founded in 2003 to improve education among today’s computer-loving students. Time4Learning provides online preschool lessonsonline elementary curriculum, and online middle school curriculum for reading, writing and arithmetic as well as social studies and sciences. In 2008, Time4Learning created, a series of eight-week online writing classes taught and facilitated by experienced writing teachers."

Individual teachers can be reached by email, but can be contacted at 
6300 NE 1st Avenue, Suite 203
Ft. Lauderdale, FL  33334

If you are interested in reading other reviews by the Homeschool Crew, visit

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge so that I would provide an honest review.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Help Your High Schooler Understand Their Faith

Do you hope for your child to develop a strong faith, a faith that is their own, a faith that will not be shaken?  

Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. has put together an apologetics' curriculum for high schoolers based on Norman Geisler and Frank Turek's book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  The book itself is a good read for anybody "skeptical about Christianity, as well as a helpful resource for Christians seeking to articulate a more sophisticated defense of their faith."  My son, who is in ninth grade, was reading the book and came to me with it.  He wanted me to read a story within it that he found very interesting and inspiring.  A few days later when I was in a restaurant, a woman approached our table with her sister's phone number and told us her sister had started a Bible college and was an excellent resource for doing work with youth.  She proceeded to tell us that she herself was an atheist. At the end of our dinner, I sat down at this woman's table.  I told her I found it very interesting that she was an atheist and also supported her so much in her church work.  She said, "I'm really not an atheist.  I'm an agnostic."  I felt like I was having almost the same conversation as was in the book.  I emailed her the name of the book they had mentioned within the story.

The curriculum from Apologia is in the form of a spiral-bound workbook that is 279 pages and was written by Frank Turek and Chuck Winter.  Now, your child can not only read the book to help increase their faith, but they can answer questions that will cause them to think about what they've read.  The workbook has extra articles about famous people from history and their beliefs and how those beliefs shaped the way people view things today.  

Each chapter in the workbook has the order of "Hook, Book, Look, Took."  There is a hook, questions that grab your attention.  The Book section details sections from the chapters.  Look is a chance for students to dig deeper and learn more on their own by completing assignments.  The Took section allows them to apply what they have learned, to take it out into the world in which they live.

I had my son read a half of a chapter each day and then answer the questions.  The chapters are mostly from 18 to 32 pages, but it doesn't read like a novel; so I let Jake break them up to make it an easier read.  It is deep.  I can't breeze through it myself but must take my time so I can understand everything that is before me.  I think high school is a good age to read this book.  It would probably be lost on most who are younger than that.

The curriculum for I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist is available for $33.00 at and is intended for students in high school, although even adults will benefit from the reading of this book and the extras that are included in the workbook.  The book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, is available for just $16.00 from Apologia at

Apologia can be reached at 
Apologia Educational Ministries
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220
Anderson, IN 46016

If you are interested in reading what others have had to say about this product, you can read their reviews at

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vocabulary Videos


A great idea but poor in the presentation.

Vocab Videos is an online website that helps students prepare for the vocabulary portion of tests like the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and LSAT.  A description provided by marketing states, "In addition to vocabulary videos featuring entertaining characters and outrageous plotlines, our website contains extensive review material including digital quizzes and worksheets, a multimedia flashcard maker, and downloadable crossword puzzles for each episode."

I would agree that the plot lines are outrageous.  I would go so far as to say they are too outrageous for the typical homeschooling family.  The concept behind Vocab Videos is a super one.  I agree that the retention rate of vocabulary increases after watching the videos; however, the story lines in the videos were inappropriate for my children.  There were many times when they took God's name in vain.  I cringed each time I heard that.  Also, when a story of two people who crash on a deserted island includes lines like, "Are we lovers?" and "You want to be the mother of my children," I draw the line.  I had my 14-year-old son watch the first series of videos.  He hated them.  I spent the next couple of weeks watching them myself and even taking the quizzes.  I did retain most of the information because I was able to remember that portion of the video where they used the word and the context surrounding the use, so they were good in that sense...that sense alone.

One story line included a young girl home alone at night studying her vocabulary words when a "Jason" character (Friday the 13th) came banging on her outside bedroom door and then broke into her house.  After about 17 words, the story line ended innocuously (to use a word I learned from that video); however, I can't imagine one girl, or even young boy, who wouldn't have nightmares after watching that video.  What were they thinking?  I would rather have wholesome videos that use the same words.  It can be done.  Perhaps Vocab Videos needs a homeschool line of videos.  Like I said, I LOVE the concept.  It works.  I just don't like the way they presented it.

Each section of videos has worksheets, crossword puzzles, flashcards that can be made, and quizzes that can be taken.  There are cumulative tests as well.  Other study resources included in a subscription are a study guide, a glossary of all the words, definition groups that list words by common themes.  There are also PDF quizzes that can be printed out.

Vocab Videos has four different subscriptions.  For the homeschooling family, most likely only the first two pricing options would be of interest.  There is a one-month educator free trial.  The second one is a membership for up to 20 students and is $74.99 for 12 months.

There is also a workbook that can be purchased for $11.99.  The link for the workbook also shows the flash cards, definition lists, category lists, and has appendices.  As an educator, you have the ability to register multiple students, view their scores, view their progress, download materials that you can then print out, and manage data and login information.

Hopefully Vocab Videos will create a new line of videos that would be more kid-friendly.  I think they would have a lot of new subscribers, even more so if the price were not so high.  It is prohibitive for us right now.

If you are interested in reading what others have said about Vocab Videos, please go to

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge so that I would provide an honest review.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Would Your Child Like to Have Their Math Made Easy?


Math Made Easy provides workbooks for homeschoolers in addition and multiplication complete with flashcards.  I received the multiplication book to use with my daughter who is going into fifth grade.  This program works by teaching quickly the multiplication facts of 0's, 1's, 10s, and 11s.  After that there are only 36 facts left to learn since many are the same with the numbers switched, e.g. 2 x 3 is the same as 3 x 2.  The facts are represented, then, in random order instead of following the multiplication table.  This way the student is forced to rely on his/her memory.


When we first received the workbook, I wasn't sure it would be a hit with Paige.  After using it for a a few weeks, it definitely has been.  Paige says, "It makes me want to do math a lot."  Here are some examples of the pages below:


There are not too many problems per page, and a wide variety of different activities are included.  There is a lot of coloring.  The first and third pages above are what the coloring pages are like.  The answer to the multiplication problem in a certain area determines what color is painted in that area.  Some of the pictures end up very beautiful.  Some of the coloring is for coloring's sake alone as in the third page.  The snakes are just included on the page with no specific coloring required.  There are puzzles like the fifth page above.  They are small puzzles, but it reinforces the facts.  A couple of pages every week have word problems as well.  Six weeks of lessons are included in the multiplication book, as well as reviews, games, and flashcards.

The addition and multiplication books each sell for $24.95.  In my estimation, this is a decent price.  I probably wouldn't have purchased it without knowing anything about it, but I can honestly say that it does work.  I have no qualms about recommending it to others because I know that Paige is learning from it, and she hates math.  Her ability to do multiplication is so much better than it used to be.

Math Made Easy can be contacted at 501-327-1968.  Their email is  The address is:
PO Box 1482
Conway, AR  72033

If you are interested in reading additional reviews by the Schoolhouse Review Crew, go to

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A History of the English Language



I am always looking for something to increase my children's understanding of things we take for granted, and this seemed like the perfect product to review.  I am sure most of us don't think much about the history of our English language, but Laurie J. White has and has put her findings into a book that is very readable and extremely interesting.

     Laurie White's website is  King Alfred's English is on the main page and also at  It is recommended for ages 12 through adult.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as have my two boys, who are 12 and 14.  It is full of interesting historical facts and explains why we use certain words and what the origin of those words is.  My boys remember so much of what they read in this book.  I have taken it a step further and used the worksheets provided free of charge on Laurie's website.  They rarely have to go back to the book for the answers because they retain the information just from reading it.  There is also a webpage on which  Laurie provides movie suggestions and website suggestions that go along with each chapter.

     On the webpage,, Laurie provides links to various companies that offer this book.  The lowest price for paperback is $14.89 through CBD.  There is also a version available for Kindle for only $5.95 through Amazon.  This is the way I am using it.  The boys just grab my tablet and sit comfortably on the couch or on their beds and read away.

     Laurie says, "The capstone of the book is the story of how we got the Bible in English and it's influence upon our language."  Some of the topics in this book are fighting Druids, the Romans, evidence for Intelligent Design, the Brothers Grimm, Beowulf, the invasion of the Vikings, William the Conqueror, Middle English, John Wycliffe, Gutenberg, Greek invasion, Martin Luther, making of the English Bible, Tyndale, Geneva Bible, King James Bible, Shakespeare, grammar rules, and how words morph and mutate, to name just a few.  As you can see, there are so many different topics that she touches on, but they flow perfectly throughout this book.  It kept my interest as well as that of my boys.  It has pictures, maps, and charts.  You can't help but learn from this resource.

     In paperback form, King Alfred's English is 170 pages.  It is a CBD Top Ten Pick for Homeschooling and has been nominated for CSPA Book of the Year.

***** I am in a position to provide the first five people who are interested in this product a 50% discount off the list price, making it $8.47 (only good through September).  Just comment on this page that you would like to purchase the product, and I will email you the link (which CANNOT be shared).

     If you have further questions, you can contact the author, Laurie White, directly at

     If you are interested in reading reviews by other Schoolhouse Review Crew members, go to

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Create Better Writers Review


My older two children are writers.  It is not a struggle with them at all.  My daughter, however, does not enjoy writing.  She was born with writer's block.  ;-)

Create Better Writers has developed a program to make writing easy, beginning with the paragraph and moving onto the five-paragraph essay.  In their words, "It all starts with one simple trick. Teach this trick in minutes, have your students practice it several times, and your students will have a solid grasp for writing paragraphs. Use this trick to write stories, summarize stories, write reports, and more.  No assignment is too difficult."  This review will focus on the book below, How To Write a Paragraph.


This comes in the form of an ebook for $7.99.  (
It is free with the purchase of either How to Teach the Five Paragraph Essay or The Complete Writing Program.  It is recommended for students in third grade and up.  There are 15 pages of lessons and activities and additional pages in the appendices.  This is the overview of the plan:

Paragraph Writing – Overview
Part I – The Basics
Step 1 – Assessment: Students write a paragraph (p. 2)
Step 2 – Learning the five parts of a good paragraph (p. 3)
Step 3 – Memorize the Five Parts of a Paragraph (p. 3)
Step 4 – The Paper Set-Up (p. 4)
Step 5 – Write a Paragraph Together: The Prewrite (p. 6)
Step 6 – Write a Paragraph Together: The Paragraph (p. 7)
Part II – Improving the Parts of a Paragraph
Step 7 – Topic Sentences (p. 9)
Step 8 – Closing Sentences (p. 11)
Step 9 – Paragraph Assessment (p. 13)
Step 10 – Practice, Practice, Practice (p. 13)
Step 11 – The Perfect Paragraph (p. 15)

When I read over this when I first received it, it didn't make any sense to me.  It is very wordy.  If I am going to follow something someone else wrote, I like to have things listed.  The instructions for this program are contained in paragraphs and need to be searched out.  

Once the instructions are understood, the program is simple.  Repetition is a part of this program.  This frustrated my daughter.  Asking the same question over and over again is not the way she likes to learn.  I know there are kids who learn very well this way, so this could work very well for those kids.  Once my DD has been "offended" by the teaching style, she has trouble learning anything else from the curriculum, but we kept going.

Through this program, teaching the student to focus on one main point per paragraph and writing down the supporting details (individual words...not sentences) just to get them on paper helps to ease the frustration when writing a paragraph.  This idea is seen in other products out there, so it does work.  I myself, though, do not like the approach of this ebook.  It is inexpensive.  If you don't mind searching for the exact instructions in the paragraphs, then this is definitely a product you should check out.  

If you are interested in reading additional reviews on this product, go to  

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to use it and provide an honest review.