Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Simplified Pantry Review: Here's One for the Moms!

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I am not very good at planning dinner.  I often find myself asking the question, "What am I going to do for dinner tonight?" 30 minutes before we are supposed to eat.  Simplified Pantry has provided a solution.  Mystie Winckler has made available to the public her years of trial and error produced out of a necessity to provide for her oldest child who was allergic to corn through Simplified Dinners.  Once she found out he was no longer allergic, she continued to prepare meals in this simplified way.  Natural ingredients used to create from-scratch meals are better for you, cost less, and taste much better than the preservative-filled foods that are "quicker."  Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free is set up the same way that Simplified Dinners is, but special attention is given to a menu that has gluten-free and dairy-free choices.

When I opened the file and started reading, I was immediately encouraged.  I thought, "I want to do this.  I want my life to be simple like this."  Mystie says that simplifying your menu planning and having less to keep track of frees up mental resources.  Who couldn't use some mental resources freed up?  I know I could.  She also says that limitation brings freedom.  It is such a simple concept.  I know that I would love to walk through the grocery store and not feel bombarded by all of the choices, most of which are not even good for me or my kids.  I wouldn't have to clip coupons for every product I might ever use or that would maybe at some point in life be on sale before the coupon expires.  There would be freedom (and an uncluttered table).

How do I know what to buy for my simplified menu planning and cooking?  Well, Mystie has created a Mastery Pantry List for each of the books.  These are the fewest things to have on hand to make anything in the book.  She lists produce, seasonings, dry goods like cornstarch and wheat, bottled goods like vanilla and oil, canned goods, dairy, meat, frozen ingredients, and beer or wine depending on the recipe you choose.  I would suggest going through the recipes before you fill your pantry.  There are probably some things you won't use.  On the other hand, there may be things you like that she doesn't list.  One of the great things about this list and these recipes is that they are easily customizable.

Simple, basic instructions are listed at the top of each page of recipes along with specifics for the flavor you are going for.  For instance, the page for slow-cooker roasts has four basic instructions.  Number two says to whisk together seasoning ingredients.  The ingredients you'll use in this step are listed for the specific recipe.

There are beef, pork, fish, and chicken recipes.  There are pasta recipes and bean recipes.  The Mexican food lover will be pleased as there are fajita, taquito, and quesadilla recipes, as well as instructions for a taco bar and burritos.  There are egg recipes and homemade pizza recipes with a large variety of sauce recipes for your pizza.  Mystie has included potatoes-as-a-meal recipes, stews, quick soups, main dish salads, veggie side dishes, and starch side dishes.  I personally don't eat any pork, so I would skip every recipe with pork or substitute another meat.

I love to use my crockpot, if I can remember that I have it in time to actually finish the cooking process before we need to eat.  My favorite recipe was the Orange Honey Chicken. There were only four ingredients needed, and they were ingredients I always have in my house.  I used no-antibiotic, no-hormone chicken cut up into tenders that were already thawed (instructions are given for frozen and thawed), orange juice, honey (recipe says brown sugar can be used as well), and a little bit of ketchup.  It created a sweet and tangy sauce.  The amount I made for my chicken was close to what would be included in a bottle of sweet and sour sauce for a fraction of the cost, and it had no preservatives besides what was in the ketchup.  There was not one complaint from my family members.

 The e-books are available as PDF files for $12.99.  This is a great price considering the number of recipes included and the flexibility it gives the cook.  The only trick in all of this is to find your meat on sale, but we all probably try to do that anyway.

The gluten- and dairy-free book is extremely helpful for those on these restrictions.  A list of ingredients that may potentially contain gluten, as well as one for dairy, is provided at the beginning of the book.  Even the Master Pantry List places an asterisk beside the ingredients that should be double-checked to ensure they are safe.  A lot of the recipes are the same between the two books.  There are even some in the GFDF book that aren't in the original version.  The pizza section is left out for obvious reason, but there is a section on gluten-free and dairy-free desserts.

One other product I had the chance to review was Paperless Home Organization.  I read through the book but have not implemented any of the ideas.  Mystie mentions two programs that she uses - Remember the Milk and Evernote.  I just recently downloaded Evernote, so I need to go back through and read how to use it.  It is a bit intimidating just looking at it.  I am encouraged, however, by the idea of having a more organized home.  I have so many piles all throughout my house and am growing weary of going through them and moving them and not knowing where important papers are.  Mystie gives tips on organizing more than just papers, though.  She teaches you how to make your email more efficient, how to use the Google calendar, and how to use Gmail.

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Tips for using Evernote in your homeschool are also included in this book.  We all know how the papers can pile up, especially if you are schooling more than one child.  Evernote also can help organize your blog so that when you are searching for something you blogged about in the past you can pull it up quickly.  Paperless Home Organization is available as a PDF or Kindle e-book for just $3.99.  Evernote is a free downloadable program.

Samples of each of the books are available on the websites.

SPECIAL PRICING:  When readers enter TOS2013 at checkout, they can receive 30% off! That discount will work on any or all of the eBooks from May 20 through June 3rd.

Here's to freeing up your mental resources!
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unfolding a Super Homeschool Resource

There is a new resource available to homeschoolers - the Schoolhouse Library.  

For a one-time fee of $25, more than 175 E-books and audio books will become available to you.  Find resources if you are just starting out on your homeschooling journey or if you are a veteran homeschooler who is searching for some new ideas.  There is something for everyone.

Over 25 topics are available in this library, including grammar, nature study, organization, geography, economics, reading, special needs, Bible, and more.

This is a great time to sign up for the library as most of us homeschoolers are thinking about curricula for next year.  Why not see what you can get as part of your membership.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Joyce Herzog - Choosing and Using Curriculum: A Review

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Joyce Herzog is a Christian educator and author who has written many books to help others educate.  She has worked specifically with the learning disabled for 25 years, but her products help students and parents with any and no special needs.   Choosing & Using Curriculum is one of her products that I had the privilege of reviewing.  I received both the e-book and the physical book.  They are geared, understandably, to the parent so that he/she can make more informed decisions about which products to use.

Every year I face the dilemma of choosing the right curriculum for my kids.  I am an eclectic homeschooler simply because there are so many great resources available.  I feel that if I stay with the same curriculum every single year I'll be missing out on something equally as wonderful.  These books have been a great resource in helping me make some decisions.

The set, both books, sells for $15.  The physical book is 108 pages long and contains 28 chapters.  The Resource E-book is 39 pages and has 10 chapters.  The books complement each other but do not duplicate information.  The chapters in the physical book include:

Curriculum Types and Comments
Education Styles
What Grade Level?
What Can They Do By Themselves?
Infant & Early Childhood Training
Bible, Spiritual, Religious & Character Training
Comparing Seven Popular Learn-to-Read Methods
How to Interest a Child in Reading
Teaching Discernment in Literature
Looking at Language Arts
Geography, Science, and History Resources
Tips for Teaching History
Special Help for Our Very Special Students (ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia)
and more

The e-book has chapters on:

Helpful Websites
General Resources
Free Resources
Education Resources for Deaf, Blind, Autistic, Dyslexic
Speech and Language Development Resources
Legal Information, Special Needs Support Groups

Around the time these books arrived, I knew I was going to have to find a good math curriculum for my daughter for summer break since she is slightly behind.  I knew of some curricula out there, but I wasn't sure what would work best.  Then it dawned on me I had a resource that would provide me with the names of other curricula available.  I pulled out the physical book and turned to the math chapter.  Ms. Herzog doesn't just give a list of products available, she spends a bit of time at the beginning of each chapter sharing insights and tips to make teaching a particular subject more rewarding depending on the child's needs and/or learning style.

As I read through the descriptions of the products, I noticed some that I had heard of before.  There were some that were new to me.  Most curricula listed also had a web address beside them.  This was helpful in my search.  If I had any interest from what Ms. Herzog had written, I was able to make a better decision after going to the website.  I did end up choosing a math program for my daughter because I had seen it listed in Choosing & Using Curriculum.  

During the next two days, I will be at a very large homeschooling convention with many vendors.  I am glad I was able to read this book before going.  The introduction gives a list of questions to ask vendors and suggests you take in all that you learn the first day before you buy anything.  Go back to your hotel room and pray about it.  When you go back to the conference (if it is 2 days), you'll be better equipped to make decisions.  I will be taking this advice.  I will also be taking this book!

If you are new to homeschooling, these books would be very helpful.  Ms. Herzog explains the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of curricula and whether or not they would work for children with special needs.

I am able to see myself as "Mrs. Average Homeschooler" whom she describes in chapter 3 ("Which One Is Me?").  I laughed while I read the description.  It describes me to a tee.  I have a bookshelf in almost every room, and I need more room for school stuff.  I re-read homeschool catalogs.  I often wonder if we did enough each day.  After figuring out who I was, I could learn about practical suggestions for my type.  

There is so much in these books, and this blog would go on for days if I described everything in them.  Suffice it to say, there are years of experience contained within the pages.  There is something for everyone.  If you don't have a lot of money to spend on your curriculum, you will benefit from the free resources that are listed.  If you have a child with special needs, you will want to read that specific chapter and see what Ms. Herzog says about using curriculum in the different subjects for your child.

I am thankful to have this resource.  It will continue to be an important component of our homeschooling.  My youngest is in 5th grade, so I have a lot of years left to use it.


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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fear the Lord

I have been given the privilege in the past few weeks to mentor some of my friends who are younger in the faith.  As I've been studying some things to share, I have run across good information I thought I'd share.

Psalm 34:11 says, "Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord."

What?  We are supposed to fear God?  What does this mean?

I stumbled upon the following website today:  It explains this idea well.  It is not meant to be a fear that causes the sense of panic and anxiety.

"When we truly fear the Lord, we will recognize that He is the Creator and we are the creatures. He is the Master and we are the servants. He is the Father and we are the children. This attitude will manifest itself in our having a respect for God, His word and in our having a desire to do what He tells us to in His Bible...To put it simply, the fear of the Lord is a deep seated reverence for God that causes men to want to please Him at all costs."

Oswald Chambers said, "The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else."

It seems to me that those who don't fear the Lord have the most to be afraid of.  Those who revere God and stand in awe of him have nothing to be afraid of.

Proverbs 8:13 states it simply - To fear the Lord is to hate evil.

I Samuel 12:24 "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

I'm not sure I've ever read the next verse.  It is an amazing promise.

Psalm 25:14 "The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them."

Psalm 33:18 "But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love."

The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  Those who fear Him will be blessed.

The psalmist tells us to put our hope in His unfailing love.  He has done great things.  He continues to do great things.  I've seen Him working firsthand.  He cares about the big and the little things in our lives.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge..."  Once we acknowledge our need for a Savior and submit our lives to Him, he opens our eyes.  He helps us to understand so much about the world that was not evident to us when we were blind.

"I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see."

Monday, May 20, 2013

College Prep Genius Review

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College Prep Genius is a company devoted to helping high school students succeed in their future.  Jean Burk, a homeschooling mom, teaches students how to prepare for college.  One step in this approach is scoring well on the standardized exams, which can earn giant scholarships.  Her own children received full scholarships to college.

High School Prep Genius is a broader-scope preparation guide to college.  It begins with students in 7th and 8th grade.  Ms. Burk presents information for every stage of junior high and high school that will make the path to college easier, by being sure that important tasks are taken care of as soon as possible and not at the very end of 12th grade.

For only $29.95, High School Prep Genius is an extremely valuable tool for the college-minded student.  The first chapters also make it a valuable tool for those who want personal success, not just those going to college.  Ms. Burk discusses personal development, developing your interests, figuring out what your beliefs are, gaining financial independence, and building a strong support system.  These ideas are good for anybody, and she presents them in a very professional and caring way.  It seemed a bit strange to me, in a book about preparing for college, to have a chapter on eating correctly and getting enough iron and calcium.  I suppose, though, a student who reads this and attends college will have in the back of their mind somewhere that they need to eat healthy to succeed and do well in school.  They will, hopefully, remember this and eat well.

The introduction to this 440-page book which is written for both the student and the parent contains a timeline from 7th through 12th grade.  It instructs the student to create a College and Career Notebook to keep track of the important information like grades, activities, awards, information about colleges, etc.  Jake spent one afternoon making 14 tables to place in his notebook.

  When I asked Jake what he thought about this book, he said, "It is very informative.  It is full of great tips on what to do in high school to prepare for college.  It also gets you ready for what you are going to face in college."

I like that this book is written to both the student and the parent.  Each chapter ends with a few pages that are a "Guide for Parents."  This book helps the student to think about his/her own life and the steps they will need to take and the responsibility that should be theirs in their future.  It seems like Jake has more of an understanding now about the path he needs to take through the rest of high school.  It certainly takes some pressure off of me as his parent to be sure he is doing what he needs to do when he is aware of what he needs to do and takes ownership of it.

Some of the other chapters in this book are:
Academic Development
Effective Studying
Tests and Papers
Getting Organized
High School Mechanics
Going Beyond the Basics
Future Development
Choosing a School
Standardized Test Prep
College Applications
Paying for School
College Essentials

There are appendices which include:
How to Build a Homeschool Transcript
Talent Searches
Great Books to Get You Started
Reduce Test Anxiety Through Relaxation Techniques
Admissions Terminology

There are special instructions for homeschooling families in various chapters.

The "Going Beyond the Basics" chapter discusses getting involved in other activities besides basic academics.  It encourages involvement in classes at community colleges, community centers, private lessons (including music), internship opportunities, honors program classes, AP courses, dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate program courses, volunteering, community service, and summer jobs.

Even though this review is about the High School Prep Genius book, I would encourage you to take a look at the College Prep Genius website.  There is information there about classes to help prepare for the SAT, both live and DVD.  There is a comprehensive SAT prep collection that includes DVDs, workbooks, textbooks, vocabulary books, etc.

Take an opportunity to read some of the testimonials as well.  They are amazing!

I look forward to having Jake finish reading this book and then having Nate, who is finishing up 7th grade, begin reading the book and taking ownership of his own school career so that he'll be ahead of the game when it comes to entering college.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Unfolding a Blessing

     For whatever reason, I am not doing very well this year remembering birthdays and holidays where a certain person is supposed to be honored in time to mail a card and/or a gift.  So, today (even though it is almost over), I want to honor my mom.  She has been a HUGE blessing in my life and is a great example of a selfless woman.

     In 1968, my mom got pregnant with my brother, but she wasn't married.  My brother is 43 years old.  Our mom chose LIFE!  Of course, my brother and I fought likes cats and dogs while we grew up, but we are very good friends now; and I am thankful that he is my brother.  Our mom and biological father were married before Gerry was born and had another baby a year later...ME!

     Ten months after I entered the world, our father decided he couldn't handle being a dad or a husband, so he split.  Imagine being 23 years old and having two children under the age of 2 and your husband leaves you, not just leaves you but completely disappears off the face of the earth.  What did my mom do?  She chose to raise us on her own.  Her mother and father watched us some weekends, but she didn't have them raise us.  She did that.  She was alone with us for almost five more years until she got remarried to my stepdad, aka "dad."

     My mom was on welfare those first years, but she was made to pay it all back. When I was 10 (I think maybe 8, I can never remember), she went through the trouble of going to court to have our father declared legally dead.  Because of that, my brother and I received a trust fund from our grandfather, so were able to go to college.  We wouldn't have been able to otherwise.  My mom worked most of our school years as a seamstress out of our house.  I never learned how to sew because I always depended on her to do my sewing.  I still do.

     Throughout my entire life, she has supported me.  She raised me to respect people, to be honest, to be myself.  As most children do, I rebelled.  I walked away from a lot of the advice and teaching, but I came back.  Even during the difficult years, she was there.  Boy was she patient!

    Now that I have my own kids, I often hear myself saying something that sounds like what my mom would have said.  My kids will do or say something that reminds me of when I was a kid.  I am able to say that I have had a great life, and I am thankful that God gave me the mom that he did.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Case of the Missing Keys

    A little over two weeks ago, I realized that I had lost my mail key.  It was on my key chain with my car and house keys by a smaller cheap key ring.  It fell off somewhere, but I didn't have any idea where.  The loss of my key was cause for concern, on my part, that somebody might be able to steal my mail, but I believed that it would eventually show up.

    While sharing prayer requests at Bible study two weeks ago, I asked for prayer that my mail key would show up.  Amanda shared that she had lost her car key.  This is a key of greater concern, not just because someone could steal your car but because those remote keys are more than $100 to replace.  Jenn shared that she had lost her mail key as well.  I told them I firmly believed they'd just show up.  Things like that happen all the time.

    On Monday at Bible study, Amanda told me that she had thought about me the day before.  She shared the story of how she had gone for a bike ride with her family and, upon arriving back home, took the keys she had taken with her back on the key rack.  She noticed that there was another set of keys hanging there - her keys she had lost.  She asked her husband where he had found them, but he denied ever finding them.  They were just there.

    That evening, I asked Jenn if she had found her mail key.  Sure enough, her husband had found it buried somewhere in their van.  Now it was my turn.  I still believed it would turn up somewhere but was okay if didn't.

    Today, Paige wanted to go play outside.  I told her we could go to the park at the amenities center when I was done making pizza dough (my first attempt at being frugal).  The first game we played was a little like jai alai, a wiffle ball and scoops.  Since I have recently started looking for change everywhere I go, I was spending a lot of time looking at the ground as I retrieved the ball.  (Thankfully, I wasn't very good at catching it.)  Once when I bent over to pick up the ball, I noticed something above the toes of my left foot - my mail key.  The cheap key ring was rusted, but the key was intact.  

    Paige and I had been to the park two and a half weeks ago for a birthday party.  It fell off my key chain then without me noticing.  Within that time, the field had been mowed, three days of torrential rainfall and tornado warnings had occurred, countless people had used the field for their own recreation, but there it was - my mail key.  The kids were so excited to go to the mailbox and make sure it was ours.  Sure enough, it was!

    I love having faith that things will work out.  I love watching God work in the big and little things.  My key is securely on my key ring now.  I am no longer using that cheap key ring.  I can't wait for the next opportunity to have great faith and share it.

Just Believe!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Papa's Pearls' Review

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I couldn't wait until I was able to write the review for this product.  Papa's Pearls is one of the most amazing books I've ever read.  Diane Flynn Keith shares pearls of wisdom that her father shared with her and her family until the day he died.  His story in itself would have made a superb read, but the wisdom and insight that he shared will add so much to my own life and the lives of my children.  I am so glad that Mrs. Keith wrote this book.  I want to purchase a copy for every friend I have so that they can read it over and over again.

I started out reading it myself, figuring I'd store up the wisdom to use as I parent my own children.  I got to the bottom of just page 2 when I started using things from Papa's life with my family.  When he was a child, Papa was forced to write his multiplication tables as punishment, in turn becoming a math whiz.  My daughter was struggling with her tables, so when a punishment needed handed down for something she had done we had her do multiplication tables.  She now knows them.

With each chapter I read, I was more encouraged.  I began sharing some of the amazing stories with my small group at church, with friends from our homeschool co-op, and whoever else I could when the opportunity arose.  One of the stories was of Papa telling his family to look for treasures wherever they went.  Two of his grandchildren began to put money they found lying around while they were out in a jar.  At the end of a year, they had collected almost $430.  I decided to start my own jar the day John (my husband) and I walked to the grocery store and I found 36 cents.  I started that jar on April 28.  I probably only have $1.00 or so, but it's a start.  It's fun to find coins just lying around.  I do feel like a treasure hunter.  I've found more money just keeping my eyes open than I did with my metal detector.

While working with our youth group one Wednesday evening a few weeks ago, I shared the story of when Papa was sent to a continuation school where delinquents went to school.  In his mind, it was the worst thing that could have happened to him at the time, but it ended up being one of the best things.  He learned a trade there which he used to start his own business years later.  I encouraged the kids to understand that things that seem to be negative while they are happening are often used by God to grow us and teach us.  We can often look back at negative things and see how God used them for his purposes.

Sometime after I had finished the book, I was working with Paige on her schoolwork.  She was complaining about math, so I read to her the chapter entitled, "'Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do' and 'Tell Yourself You Like It.'"  A few days later, she had been sent to bed early, so I began reading the book to her from the beginning.  I figured she would benefit from Papa's insight.  I read two chapters that night.  Every night since she has begged me to read more of the book.  She wants me to read it to her brothers and have her dad read it.  It is amazing how much of an impact one man's life can have on others.  I obviously didn't know him, but I am thankful for him.  How amazing it would have been to be the child or grandchild of a man so wise and loving!

There are only 112 pages in this short book.  It sells for $13.47 for the paperback through Amazon or $6.97 as a Kindle book through Amazon.  You can click through Papa's Pearls to Amazon.  You can also order an autographed copy for $14.97 from Papa's Pearls with $7.00 shipping and handling.  The wisdom contained within this book makes it priceless, in my opinion.  I highly recommend it.  It was not written as a parenting book, per se, but I tell people it is the best parenting book I've ever read.

Goodness, I don't know what else to say.  People need to read this.  I believe there will be something that speaks to you and makes you want to be a better person.


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Am I the Only One?

     I love to read blogs and Facebook posts written by people who have tips for being frugal or by Homesteading/Survivalism.  They always have so many great ideas.  There are those who can their fruits and vegetables and those who make homemade bread.  They never buy processed food, and their family always eats healthy food.

     Am I the only one who wishes I was like these people?  I have moments of inspiration when I will buy a large block of yeast thinking I will forever more make my own bread and end up only making one thing with the yeast.  The rest of it goes bad before I gather up enough motivation to use it again.  For Christmas one year, I asked for and received The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.  I look through it and think, "Oh, if only I were that practical and knowledgeable."  I've thought of selling it, but I just can't bring myself to do it.  I live vicariously through the book and daydream what it would be like to be a homesteader.

     I want to eat organic, but it costs too much.  I want to garden, but I don't have the motivation to plant, weed, or wait.  I often think about what life was like for those who lived in colonial times or even in the middle of the 19th century.  Granted, life was probably harder without all of the conveniences we have like running water and refrigeration, but in some aspects I'm sure it was better.  There was no worrying about processed food or plastics or how much gasoline cost.

     I know God had a plan for putting me on earth when he did, so I'm not going to say I was born in the wrong era; but I want to taste a bit more of a simple life.  I want to save money.  I want to spend more time with my kids.  I want to raise them to be respectful and godly adults.  There's got to be a way to get to where I want to be in my role as a homemaker.  I need to take it one step at a time.  Maybe I'll take some baby steps and blog about it.  Maybe there will be a noticeable difference after I give myself a year.  Hmm, that gives me an idea.  I will try to come up with a list of frugal or homesteader-type ideas and put them into practice and come back with updates.

     If you have suggestions for the steps I could take, please pass them on.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Home School in the Woods: Great Empires Review

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Home School in the Woods is a company that has a real passion for teaching kids history through hands-on learning.  We had the opportunity to review their Great Empires activity study, which is recommended for the elementary grades.  Below are some examples of what is included in this study.

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This study is very inexpensive considering the amount of information and activities it contains.  It is $18.95 for the downloadable version and $19.95 for the CD version.  We used the downloadable version.

I love these types of studies where there is a wealth of information but also many hands-on activities to reinforce what is being learned.  There are maps, recipes, booklets, crafts, research, reading, etc.  This is the way I put together my own classes when I teach.  I did choose to not print out some activities but only a few. They were either crafts for which I did not have the supplies or some writing assignments I didn't feel my daughter had to do since there were so many other things included with each empire.

I printed out the pages I wanted from each empire we studied, used a 3-hole punch on them, and put them in a binder.  The activities like the small books my daughter created were put in the pockets in the front and back of the binder.  Here is a picture of her binder.  The directions call for colored card stock, but I chose to just print out everything on regular copy paper.

This activity study consists of the empires of Ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, and China; the Arab-Muslim, Mongolian, Viking, Spanish, French, English, German, Japanese, and Russian empires; and the United States of America.

Paige said, "It was cool that they gave us recipes.  I also learned about the dynasties.  I didn't know what they were before we did this study."  She did not like all the cutting that needed to be done or doing the maps.  I, personally, did not think there was too much of either, but she does not like to do those things.

We did each of the empires in a day or two, never more.  I would read the information pages to Paige while she worked on the map.  There is a lot of information given about each empire.  For a child who is younger, I would think you would definitely want to take 2-3 days per empire so that most of the information isn't lost on them because there is so much.  It would just work better to break it up for them.  I really like how things that are learned in one empire are reiterated in another empire, e.g., when Hannibal fought with the Romans against Spain.

More time can be spent on each empire, if you choose.  There is a great framework   provided.  Additional books can be read, which are suggested.  With 18 empires, this could easily be a year-long course for an elementary student.

Some other products that were reviewed by our Crew were the Hands-On History Lap-Pak: The 20th Century in America and the Hands-On History Activity-Pak: Composers.  Another activity study like the Great Empires that is provided by Home School in the Woods is The History of Holidays.  I think I might have to check this one out, too!!  

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