New Fabulous Music Appreciation for Homeschools: On Sale Thru 8/15/16!

My friend Gena is a talented musician and has taught music for many years in both classrooms and her own homeschool.  Our readers may remember when Jackson and I reviewed her wonderful 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music last year.  (You can click on the link to see our review.)  Phenomenal, beautiful, and so easy for even non-musical-types to use!


$20 of the 2-volume set of 20th Century Music Appreciation this week only at

Now, for a limited time (just until Monday, 8/15/16), you can get $20 off that curriculum as well as her newest one, 25 Lessons in 20th Century European and South American Music Appreciation!  We’ll actually be using this new one and sharing our thoughts with you all in mid-September, so keep an eye out.  I’m so looking forward to it though.  Have you ever even SEEN a music appreciation course that teaches about South American music before?  Maybe on the college level, but nowhere else!

Here’s a little more from Gena:

Are there any homeschool moms here who are frustrated that they don’t have the time or means to include music in their homeschools? I’m happy to share that Gena Mayo (of Music in Our Homeschool) has two brand new products for sale this week!

First, let me tell you about the great self-paced online course:

20th Century Music Appreciation for High School

If you have a high schooler who needs a fine arts credit, you’ll want to look into this! Once it’s purchased, it’s yours forever, so all of your kids will be able to use it and get a 1/2 credit during high school. But, it can also be used for Mom to guide her kids through the 36 weekly lessons and even to teach at a homeschool co-op!

This week only, get $30 off the course price! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK. Head over to the Music in Our Course site to preview some lessons for free.

20th-Century-Music-Appreciation-Course-for-High-School-Students Pinterest

Second, if you’d prefer an ebook curriculum, you’ll want to check out her new one:

25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation

If purchased separately, it’s $10 off this week or get it in a Bundle with the previous volume 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation for $20 off! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK.


What’s included in the ebook?

Learn about these composers and music from Europe and South America during the 20th Century:

  • Puccini
  • Mahler
  • Debussy
  • R. Strauss
  • Sibelius
  • Granados
  • De Falla
  • Vaughn Williams
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern
  • Holst
  • Ravel
  • Bartok
  • Stravinsky
  • Kodaly and Orff
  • Villa-Lobos
  • Ginastera
  • Prokofiev
  • The Beatles and other pop groups of the British Invasion
  • Hindemith
  • Khatchaturian
  • Shostakovich
  • Messiaen
  • Britten
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber and other composers of musical theater

All links to listen to their music, as well as notebooking pages, are included.

Remember to use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK to get $10, $20, or $30 off (depending on the product). Sale ends August 15!


“As a music educator, I appreciate the depth and organization Gena has put into her music curriculum. She provides many interesting facts and resources comparable to my college music history classes for high school students to learn about different composers of 20th Century European and South American music.” –Kathy Gossen of Cornerstone Confessions.

“Gena has done it again! This is a wonderfully comprehensive look at musicians from the 20th century, a great addition to her previous curriculum on American artists. There were so many composers whose music I was familiar with but didn’t know their names or anything else about them. I look forward to teaching this in my homeschool!” –Michelle Habrych, homeschool mom of two teens

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Enjoy!  –Wren

5 Curriculum Resources for High Schoolers ~ Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101”

This week, one of my favorite Schoolhouse Review Crew events is happening–the Crew Blog Hop, this time entitled “5 Days of Homeschool 101!”  This week, Crew members will be blogging about curriculum, traditions, home management, planning, and encouragement.  Each blogger will be chatting about 3-5 of these topics.  I’ll be linking back to the main overall post as well as the topic posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  So excited for you to join us!

5 Days of Homeschool 101

5 Curriculum Resources for High Schoolers

This fall, we begin our first year of high school as Jackson enters 9th grade.  We have thought and prayed long and hard on what we’d be doing as we entered high school homeschool.  For us, 9th grade is looking like a literature- and history-based year of study of American history, with science and math (of course).  Jackson will also be continuing piano lessons and taking some drama classes at our homeschool coop.

We have been very eclectic over the years of our homeschool, using a huge variety of curricula and resources.  We’ve done online marine biology study; outside art classes; hiking clubs; math with textbooks, online, or manipulatives….and much more!  However, this year I really felt that our focus needed to be a bit tighter.  This is the year we begin accumulating credits for that high school transcript, for college admission.  I’d like to share with you some resources that I have found to be exceptional as I’ve prepared to enter this new homeschool season.


Sonlight booksSonlight

A friend told me years ago that Sonlight has the best book lists ever.  If you’re looking for vibrant, fascinating living books across a wide swath of history (as we are), she would be right!  Some of our most-beloved books were from years we spent using Sonlight curriculum:  Walk the World’s Rim, The Winged Watchman, Cheaper by the Dozen, Ginger Pye…so many rich books!

I’m really grateful for all of these, and for the new ones Jackson will be delving into this year.  Peace Child and The Cross and the Switchblade are just two of my personal favorites that my son will be introduced to, of the many on our reading list this year.  I highly recommend Sonlight.  They’ve filled our schooldays with beautiful words!



Have you ever visited The Old Schoolhouse Magazine‘s  It is a complete one-stop spot for an entire homeschool curriculum, from preschool to 12th grade!  Membership can be purchased for $12.95 monthly or $139 for a full year; that membership provides complete access for all courses and resources.  High School classes are available for every single subject category!  You’ll find classes (both in video or in print format) for computer science, foreign languages, art, drama, math, history, language arts….really, everything that must comprise a high school transcript!

Of course, any time The Old Schoolhouse Magazine creates anything it is high-quality. and its classes are no exception!


Progeny Press logoProgeny Press

We were very fortunate to be introduced to Progeny Press during the last school year, when Jackson was able to use their Introduction to Poetry and The Scarlet Pimpernel study guides.  For an intensive learning experience in literature from a Biblical worldview, nobody can beat the curriculum creators at Progeny Press.  They do create study guides for younger students, too; they’re just an exceptional resource for high school students.  Their courses are challenging yet beautifully teach excellent language and literature assessment skills.  I can’t recommend them highly enough.


Summer 2015 926Classical Conversations

We aren’t a classical homeschooling family; we’ve always been more eclectic in our curriculum choices.  But when I read Leigh A. Bortins’ The Conversation last year, I learned so much that I knew would equip me for our high school homeschooling years.  The author speaks not only to the character we’d like our children to have well-established as adults, she covers each high school subject and questions parents can ask of their selected curricula.  I was both encouraged and inspired after reading this book, and I know I’ll refer to it again.


Yes, Pinterest!  I have discovered so many wonderful boards about homeschooling a high schooler!  Here are some of my favorite pins that I’ve run across; just do a search on Pinterest for “Homeschooling High School” and you’ll be astounded by the wealth of options and ideas you’ll find!

Seven Sisters Homeschool: Transcript Necessities

His Mercy Is New: 100 Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

Walking By The Way: Homeschool Volunteer Log

5 J’s Homeschool: High School Credit Planner

The Home Scholar: College-Bound Reading List

Clearly, there’s so much more than this available.  There are homeschool boards for high schoolers on every school  subject, on character, on college prep….just do the search.  You’ll probably find tons of boards you want to follow.  The only issue I ever have with Pinterest is getting back to look at the articles I pin; but as long as you can do that, you’ll be fine!

More on the “5 Days of Homeschool 101” Blog Hop….

Crew bloggers will be posting every day this week.  Visit these links for more awesome homeschool info!

Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday –  Planning –
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

I’ll be back on Wednesday with some home management tips that have worked in our household.  See you then!

Enjoy!  –Wren


5 Days of Homeschool 101

Patriotic Penmanship from Laurelwood Books ~ A TOS Review

We’ve been introduced recently to a unique company, Laurelwood Books, which produces and sells some beautiful materials for homeschoolers.  Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received their cursive handwriting program, Patriotic Penmanship, to use and review.  In particular, we used their Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book.

Patriotic Penmanship banner

What is Laurelwood Books?

Laurelwood Books is a company which provides, as their tagline reads, “homeschooling books, help and advice.”  In their shop, you can find everything from curricula of all sorts (science, math, language arts and more), to excellent books, CDs, DVDs, and other material interesting to the homeschooler!  These range from time-honored classics to newer publications.  (I have to tell you that one of their current specials pictured on their website is a Nancy Drew novel that I owned as a grade schooler, years ago!)  Crew reviewers received one of a great variety of curricula to review, including Latin readers and workbooks, penmanship books, and books for state study.


Patriotic Pen 1Patriotic Penmanship, our review item

Author Mary Ellen Tedrow of Laurelwood Books has created a penmanship curriculum with books for every grade level from 1st grade through 12th.  The series is entitled Patriotic Penmanship, and it’s composed of books featuring noble and inspirational quotes about America, faith, and life for students’ handwriting practice.  The softcover books (which are consumable, for one student’s use) teach manuscript printing in grades 1 and 2.  Grades 3-6 (which also have one book per grade) continue student work in cursive.  The last two books in the series are one book each for Junior High (grades 7-8) and High School (grades 9-12), both continuing cursive work.

We received the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book.  It is an 8 1/2″ x 11″ softcover book with a laminated cover.  The inside pages are white (and smooth), and since it’s a consumable cursive handwriting book all the work is done in this.  You will need one book for each child.  (No other materials are required.)  Mary Ellen’s instructions for the parent are short and sweet:  each week, start by reading the entire quote to your child.  Then, assign to him the amount of work that he can capably complete each day.  Her lovely reminder to give grace to your children as they write, allowing them some creativity, is really appreciated in our house!

PatPen 2There are 30 lessons total in the Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book, plus a couple of pages of alphabet practice at the beginning.  This makes it perfect to use for one year’s work in handwriting/penmanship.  Each week’s lesson begins with a quote; each one is either from a historical figure from America’s (or world) history, a Scripture passage, or from influential Christian men and women.  You’ll find wonderful words which encourage, inspire, and uplift, from sources like:

  • the Declaration of Independence
  • Wernher von Braun
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • and more!

These beautiful words from Scripture, from poetry, and from landmark speeches will be not only excellent for penmanship practice, but for the heart and mind of the student as well.

After you read the quote to the student, he’ll begin the Tracing and Writing Practice.  Each quote has two lines on which handwriting is practiced: first, a line where the words are printed in dotted format, where the student traces over them.  Following that is a blank line where he’ll rewrite the words he just traced.  When he has completed this section, he’ll move on to the Full Quote, designed so that the entire quote is written on the blank lines given.  Then that’s the end of that week’s lesson!


PatPen 3How we used this:

Since we’re working on this during the summer, which is more of a “homeschooling lite” time for us, we didn’t complete 5 days in a row of penmanship work (as directed in the note to teachers), but more of a 3-day schedule.  Otherwise, we basically followed the plan set out by the author.  Jackson, who just completed 8th grade, started with the alphabet practice.  Then, we moved on to other quotes in the book.  He’d generally complete about 3 lines of a quote per lesson, which works out to six lines of handwriting, since the quotes start with tracing and follow that with the freehand writing.

I LOVE the quotes that Mary Ellen has used in this book.  They are truly words that will lift the spirits of anyone who reads them.  I like her encouragement to assign to your children just what they’re capable of completing in a day.  However, it did take us a bit of time to get used to this new format.  Jackson hasn’t done tracing in his handwriting practice in quite awhile, and I think this can overwhelm a student IF you don’t follow Mary Ellen’s recommendation, since at the beginning of each lesson the quotes are first traced, then rewritten on a new line.  I think it just looked like a lot to him at first.  But he did ease into the new format.

When I applied for this review, I wasn’t really sure if I should have asked for the Junior High book or the High School one.  Since my son officially starts 9th grade in the fall, I decided to ask for the High School book.  And the first thing we noticed when we opened the book was that the lines (which are the standard handwriting lines, with a top and bottom unbroken line, and a midpoint dotted line) were really small!  The pages he worked on during middle school were quite a bit larger and had much more space for writing.  However, I do think that this was a change we’d eventually have made in the fall anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing; just something new for us.

Our recommendations:

I haven’t really seen a lot of handwriting/penmanship books for high school students.  However, I had already planned for Jackson to continue to work on this subject, even if it was solely from using copywork pages.  I really do believe that handwriting practice accomplishes important work in students’ brains.  Plus, even if our culture continues to become more tech-focused and most people communicate electronically, there is still importance and blessing that can be communicated via the handwritten word.  Don’t you still love getting a handwritten note from a friend or family member?

Patriotic Penmanship High School: Grades 9-12 book offers homeschoolers an uplifting and quality way to practice their handwriting as they are being exposed to beautiful words.  Wouldn’t this also be a fantastic adjunct to an American history study?  I can recommend this curriculum for any mother who’s seeking a handwriting program for her high school homeschool students.  It’s a concise and lovely way for students to work on their penmanship!

You can visit Laurelwood Books to purchase Patriotic Penmanship.  You can also click the banner below, to read more about other curricula my fellow Crewmates reviewed!

Enjoy!  –Wren

You can visit Laurelwood Books at these social media spots:

Their website, Laurelwood Books
Or via email, at



Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}Crew Disclaimer

Notebooking Pages ~ Our Most Excellent Experiences & Review

Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, Jackson and I have found an excellent new way to reinforce what he’s learning via books, textbooks, experiments, and many other school experiences.  We were SO fortunate to receive a Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership from  I have been really pleased with our experiences.  And I can tell you, this is a product we will be using during all our remaining years of homeschooling!


notbooking-pages-bannerWhat is notebooking, anyway?

“Notebooking” is simply journaling what you are learning, or what you have learned.  It can be anything from writing down the key points of a read-aloud’s chapter, to noting historical events and timing, to recording the experiences of  a field trip, to scientific principles, and more.  Anything that a child can recount that he’s learning, can become a notebooking exercise.  British educator Charlotte Mason espoused this as a key method of learning for children, and you’ll find it used by many homeschooling families today.


notebookingpages-com-logoWhat is creator Debra L. Reed, who’s also a homeschooling mother of 10, wanted her children to really learn what she was teaching them, and internalize those things for a lifetime, not just for the test (as many of us might have done during our own school careers!).  She also wanted to bring freedom to homeschooling mamas and families, and her has done just that!  She has created an enormous plethora of pages for all kinds of subjects that students will encounter during their formal education.  In addition, she has teaching videos (as well as videos that tell the story of how and why was born), and many different helps for the homeschooling parent.



NotebPg 1What you’ll find in the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership:

If you’ve never used notebooking pages before, never fear!  Debra L. Reed has created an “Easy Start Guide” that takes the user step-by-step through an effective beginning (including videos, creating notebooks for both mama and student(s), and more).  Even if this method of learning is completely new to you, you’ll be equipped to start out simply by following this guide.

But of course, the Lifetime Membership doesn’t stop there!  Next, you’ll find what I (and probably you would as well!) find most exciting:  the “Membership Downloads.”  Also known as all the pages for all the subjects you want to teach, for students in grades K-12!  Here’s a listing of the categories:

  • Any Study (blank lines with clip art, attractive borders, and so on, for any subject)
  • A-Z (alphabet copy pages of many kinds for beginning students)
  • Bible and Character Study
  • Famous People (historical figures like First Ladies, missionaries, explorers, artists, etc.)
  • Fine Arts (including picture study, artists, composers)
  • Geography (continents, U.S., etc.)
  • History (from ancient times on, with timelines/century books)
  • Holidays
  • Language Arts (with a variety of copywork pages and even some Latin and Greek word study)
  • Science/Nature

Each of these comes in files which can be downloaded onto your home computer, and printed from there.  Or you could, of course, put them on a flash drive and take them to a copy center, if you’re unable to print at home.  The Lifetime Membership enables the user to access everything on the website for generations to come, whether they’re current products or future ones that are still being added.  There is no time limit on the Lifetime Membership!



Notbk 4How we used these pages:

We used our notebooking pages the most during this review period, on science work.  (For some reason, our schedule has been science-heavy the last few months!)  First, we worked on an upper middle school Life Science study.  It was extremely well-written.  Yet for some reason, it didn’t work well for us as a read-aloud and my son had a hard time concentrating on it when he read it himself.  I think that it was just so chock-full of information that it was a little too much for his brain to absorb. to the rescue!  I printed out some pages with colorful borders from the “Any Study” section.  These pages have lines for writing and boxes for writing lists or drawing diagrams.  This made THE difference for us, taking our study from a good curriculum that was a bit difficult for us to work with, to making a challenging subject completely understandable.  I wrote questions, fill-in-the-blanks, and words to define (as well as diagrams to reproduce), and Jackson used these alongside his book as he read.  What a difference!  Plus, he was creating his own study sheets as he worked on these pages.  Win-win!


Notbkg 3We used the notebooking pages with two other science programs as well, both heavy on experiments.  With one of them, Jackson drew diagrams of the circuits he built and then wrote explanations of what they did, and the components he used to build them.  With the other, which dealt with physics experiments, he defined words and explained the principles he discovered as he worked the experiments.  For these, we printed out pages from the Science/Nature section of; they’re black and white with a “Science” header.

NotbPgs 2Since it’s summer, we have had the opportunity to use some of the notebooking pages we might not have gotten to during a regular September-May school year.  Recently, our family took a vacation to Texas and New Mexico.  So we printed the USA State Study Sets (there’s one for each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.) from the Geography section, specifically for Texas.  The pages we used had spaces for state information (date of statehood, bird, motto, etc.) plus blank pages where you could fill out information on things you did or places you went.  They were just fabulous pages (okay, I am from Texas myself, so I admit I might have had a slight bias here) and so interesting for Jackson to fill out.

Notbkg 5The second set of pages we used on our vacation were also from the Geography section, from the USA National Monuments segment.  We visited Capulin Volcano National Monument, and has pages just for that!  So before we left on our trip, I printed those pages.  They included blank lines and a box to fill in (Jackson did a map of the hiking trails at the monument there), as well as photos of the dormant volcano and a U.S. map for marking its location.  I loved the way having a record of our trip made it even more memorable, and visual.

I have to admit to you that I am not generally a fan of printables.  I just find it, sometimes, so unhelpful to have to print things at home.  Plus our printer sometimes runs through ink VERY quickly.  That has not been the case with my membership, though.  It is so easy to download and to print.  I don’t really even have to think about it!


Notbkg 6Our recommendations:

Do you want to ensure that your children are really learning the things they are studying?  Do you want to teach them good memory techniques, great note-taking skills, and build in them scholastic habits that will serve them well for a lifetime?  And do you want to help them to really become lifelong learners?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, then I believe that is something that you’ll not only enjoy, but that your child will greatly benefit from.  For us, it has been an incredible gift, and just what we need for a student who’s beginning his high school years.  (Although younger students will certainly find these notebooking pages both amazing, enjoyable, and useful as well!)

Jackson, who’s just finished the 8th grade and will be starting 9th grade in the fall, LOVES the notebooking pages he has used.  He felt that they were enjoyable to use, but also that they really helped him in the learning and studying processes.  Each and every time we used them, he was happy to do the schoolwork!

And finally….

You can purchase the amazing Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership from  It really is the most incredible resource.  I know we’ll find many other ways to use it in our homeschool, in nearly every subject (if not all of them)!

You can visit at the following social media links:

Twitter: @NotebookingPgs

Enjoy!  –Wren

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

LearnBop for Families ~ The Online Math Tutor You’ve Been Looking For

Have you been looking for ways your children can keep their math skills up, over the summer months?  We found the perfect solution for this potential problem when we were offered LearnBop‘s LearnBop for Families to use and review via the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  It has been a great experience for us (which is saying something, when a love-hate relationship with math lives in your household!)  We received a prepaid version (12 month subscription) for the Single Student Plan (although there is also a Family Plan available for up to 4 students).  It’s completely digital and online, and students watch, answer, and learn via the website.

LearnBop Banner

What is LearnBop for Families?

LearnBop itself is a program which teaches math and gives additional instruction on concepts students miss or don’t understand….all online.  LearnBop has been used in schools for some time.  They developed their new program, LearnBop for Families, for students to use at home.  It’s designed for students in grades 3-12 (although younger students have also used it successfully).

And how does LearnBop for Families work?  It organizes math concepts into learning plans called Learning Roadmaps, which contain thorough lessons on them.  There might be anywhere from 11-13, or more, plans or units in each grade level or roadmap.  And each of those has a number of lessons in it.  Students watch videos, answer questions, and are given additional problems.

LearnBop 1

Here is where things get interesting.  In each roadmap, students begin by completing a Warmup.  This warmup presents a number of different questions that illustrate the math concepts that will be taught in the particular unit.  The student works through the questions and the problems and enters his answers.  Then, based on how well he scores on the warmup questions, the website calculates his understanding of the concepts.  And fabulously, it develops a plan of study, called Building Blocks, for the student!  The Building Blocks provide teaching videos on each concept that needs to be mastered.  After the student watches the teaching videos, he can either watch additional videos on the concepts or proceed to the Bops, where he’s given problems to work so that he can show mastery of those concepts.  Once he has completed the Bops (math problems) with a 90% success rate, he can move on to the next Roadmap, which starts the entire process again.


LearnBop 2How we used it

My son will be entering high school in the fall as a ninth grader, and I thought that spending time with LearnBop over the summer reviewing the math concepts of his middle school years would be a great way to prepare him for the Algebra I class he’ll begin in September.  So we used a Roadmap that started with graphing along the x and y axes, introductory algebraic concepts with variables, and geometry.

We have used some different curricula over Jackson’s middle school years, and another reason I wanted to use LearnBop for review is because I wanted to ensure that he’d covered everything in those various curricula that he’d need to be successful in math during his high school years.  So as he worked through the roadmaps, I sat nearby so that I could make sure that the program itself worked and so that I could see what he was covering in each roadmap.  This ended up being a great plan for us, because we had a lot of conversations about why the math processes worked as they did.  And while I can’t say this about every math curricula we’ve used over the years, I LOVE LearnBop as a tutoring program!

LearnBop 3

The videos teach the math concepts VERY calmly and clearly.  While students do need to watch additional teaching videos if they miss problems, my son never felt like that was a punishment.  (And he is not really a math fan.)  There is enough repetition in the problems that the student can really grasp the concepts by exposure and experience.  I did feel that the math seemed just a bit above what I’d have thought was grade level.  However, that was never a problem for us.  We’d just slowly and carefully work through each problem (sometimes with math, the student’s challenges are not that he can’t do the math, but that he’s working through it so quickly that he misses something) until understanding was reached and mastery demonstrated by the Roadmap.

The program also has some nice kudos for the student, in the form of badges and accomplishments that are displayed on the bottom of their pages.  In addition, the Single Student Plan that we used allowed us to have a student account and a parent’s account.  So if I needed a personal refresher in a math concept Jackson was working on, I could create a Roadmap in my own account and work the problems through that.  The parent’s account works in just the same way as the student’s, with Warmups, teaching videos, and Building Blocks problems.  (I admit that I’ve forgotten more upper-level algebra than I thought I had!)

LearnBop 4

I really appreciated that we were able to work through a number of different grade levels via LearnBop.  I know that we have covered some of these topics but it has been awhile; and they’re all concepts that will be vital for Jackson to clearly remember and understand as he enters high school.  It has been a great learning experience that he’s been able to do with little anxiety (other than he’d really rather not be working on his least favorite subject during the summer months).  But from the mom’s point of view, it’s as stress-free as it could be.  Plus, it’s thorough!


LearnBop 5Our conclusions

I am a fan of LearnBop for Families.  It came along for us at a time when we really needed some excellent math reviewing time.  The lessons are easy to use, the video teaching is clearly presented, and the resulting and necessary problems provided for students really enable them to practice and improve on their math skills.

During our review time, we only experienced one issue in the program when it wouldn’t allow Jackson’s entered answers to be taken so that he could progress in the lesson.  This only happened yesterday, but we submitted a help request and should be hearing back any time.

Other Crew members reviewed different age levels offered by LearnBop.  If you’d like to hear more about their experiences, click on the banner below, which will provide links for other homeschoolers’ reviews.  You may purchase subscriptions for LearnBop for Families on a subscription plan (month-by-month) or a prepaid (yearly) basis at LearnBop.  If you’re in need of some math tutoring for your own students, this may be just what you’re looking for!

You can visit LearnBop and learn more at these social media sites:

Twitter: @LearnBop


Enjoy! –Wren

LearnBop for Families ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Progeny Press’ THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL E-Guide – A TOS Review

“Sink me!”


The Scarlet Pimpernel banner

If you’ve ever heard this phrase at all, you associate it, as I do, with Sir Percy Blakeney, hero of Baroness Emma Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.  And Progeny Press has an excellent literature curriculum for this rip-roaring adventure, entitled The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide.  We were privileged to receive a digital download of this interactive study guide (coauthored by Michael S. Gilleland & Eileen Cunningham) to review.  The e-guide can either be printed so that students can write their answers in it, or can be saved to the computer for students to type in and save their work.  (Purchase of the e-guide does not include the book, but Progeny Press does have print copies available for purchase.)


The Scarlet Pimpernel 1

What is The Scarlet Pimpernel?

Anyone who’s either seen the 1982 film of The Scarlet Pimpernel, or has read Baroness Emma Orczy’s excellent book (of the same title), can tell you that a scarlet pimpernel is a “humble English wayside flower” (The Scarlet Pimpernel, chapter 4).  However, it’s also the name and badge or symbol of an Englishman who snatches innocent French men, women, and children away from the guillotine before they are put to death.  For the time of the book is 1792, and the place is Paris; the Reign of Terror has begun and tens of thousands of suspected “enemies” of the new French Republic are being put to death, without trial.

While all of Europe is horrified at the wholesale killing in France, the nations around her are hesitant to actually become involved in trying to put a stop to it.  Except, that is, for Sir Percy Blakeney, who is both a baronet and one of the richest men in England.  Although outwardly and in public he behaves like a simpleton who is only interested in the latest extravagant fashions and the pursuits of his own upper class, secretly he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, and he and his band of loyal friends use costume, disguise, and intrigue to rescue those who are wrongly sent to the guillotine.  Even his French wife, the lovely and accomplished Marguerite, knows nothing of his secretive pursuits.

But of course, this hero infuriates the new French government, and Citoyen (citizen) Chauvelin is tasked with finding the Pimpernel and eradicating him.  He blackmails Percy’s wife, Marguerite, by threatening to kill Armand, her brother, telling her that to save him she must discover and betray the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Misunderstandings, betrayal, secret identities, and many twists and turns hurtle the reader through Baroness Orczy’s fantastic adventure story.  Will Marguerite discover the identity of the Pimpernel, or is her marriage to Percy doomed to sorrow and mistrust?  And will Chauvelin win….or will the Pimpernel?


The Scarlet Pimpernel 2What is The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide?

Progeny Press is a curriculum company which produces exceptional literature guides and study guides for students in elementary, middle school, and high school grades.  Their stated mission is:  “To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”  (from the About Us page of their website).  Their guides are based on Christian beliefs, and they integrate both Scripture and worldview study into their literature guides.  I personally find their guides both fascinating and thought-provoking, as well as high-quality.  These guides really cause the student to think and ponder, not just quickly enter fill-in-the-blank questions without looking more deeply into the books and literature.

The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide is designed for high school students in grades 9-12.  Completing it will provide 1/4 of a credit for the student.  The e-guide itself includes:

  • a short bio of the author, Baroness Emma Orczy
  • historical background on the French Revolution and the events leading up to it, as well as France’s culture at that time
  • Prereading activities
  • Student work in 7 sections, which divide the book into 4-5 chapters each, including vocabulary study, short answer questions, character study, literary analysis, and “Digging Deeper” questions
  • Assignments for essay writing and projects
  • An additional resources list
  • Answer key for student work

Since this was a digital download, we saved it to our PC, where my son Jackson does all of his computer work for school.  I also exported a copy of the e-guide to my Kindle Fire, so that I could use that for making and selecting assignments for Jackson to work on.  On my device, we weren’t able to enter answers into the interactive guide as Jackson could on the PC, but it was still a great resource for me in lesson planning.

The prereading activities are fantastic.  We as adults are probably very familiar with the French Revolution, with its cruelties and excesses not seen in our own American Revolution (though the goal of the two was the same, to establish a republic).  But our students may not have delved that deeply into this era of history, and the prereading activities will help them in understanding the setting of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  These include: geography; a brief study on King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette; study on the whys and hows of the French Revolution; French vocabulary study; and more.  I love these because this type of well-rounded study increases the ability of the student to remember the events of history as well as the events of Sir Percy’s story.  Plus, for us homeschooling geek mamas, they are just fun!

The vocabulary (English) study is also quite good.  Baroness Orczy wrote in an extremely descriptive voice; the reader is able to really see and imagine the events of her story.  And the words she uses are high-level.  Students will gain understanding of words like carnage, reprobate, effusive, inane, ardent, retribution, and more.  The questions for each chapters’ segment are both thoughtful and effective.

I think that the “Digging Deeper” section was my favorite, of all the truly good portions of this study.  The authors list real and valid questions that are essential for high school students to consider as they’re preparing for life in the world.  They also list Scripture verses for students to look up that aid in worldview development, and in consideration of each character’s actions and motivations.

The Scarlet Pimpernel 3How we used the book and the e-guide:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a great read for high school students.  However, because of the subject matter, it does delve into some bloodthirsty and repulsive human actions and events.  But it’s full of humor, adventure, and historical fact, as well as excellent characterization.  Baroness Orczy’s words lend themselves beautifully to both personal reading or reading aloud.  Because I am such a huge fan of the Anthony Andrews film version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, we chose to read it aloud.  (This is not quite the way Progeny Press recommends the book and e-guide be used, but it worked really beautifully for us.)

Because the e-guide’s assignments are grouped for 4-5 chapters at a time, Jackson (who’s an eighth grader going into ninth grade this fall) didn’t work on the literature guide every day.  Rather, we’d read the assigned chapters and then he’d work for several days on the assignments, doing (for example) vocabulary work one day, a few literary questions on another, and the “Digging Deeper” questions on a different day.  This worked very well for us, especially for a summer study.  (During the school year, or once Jackson were just a little older, we’d do more work in a day.)

As we’ve experienced before with Progeny Press, their literature guides are truly exceptional.  (For another example of our experiences with Progeny Press, you can read our review Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements.)  We love the worldview they write from and that the students are exposed to and caused to think upon.  And both the literature this is based on, and the literary devices they learn about, expose them to knowledge and understanding that a well-rounded student can appreciate having in his learning arsenal.


Progeny Press logoIn conclusion:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a fun and fantastic read.  And this e-guide is exceptional.  This is just one of the many great e-guides that Progeny Press has available at their website.  Other Crew members reviewed E-Guides for all ages.  Click on the banner below, and you’ll be able to read more about all those books, E-Guides, and the homeschoolers’ experiences!

And one last postscript; to my knowledge, Sir Percy never says “Sink me!” in The Scarlet Pimpernel book…though Anthony Andrews’ character makes it ever so memorable in the movie.  If you want to see it in print, you’ll have to turn to Baroness Orczy’s related book about the Pimpernel, Mam’zelle Guillotine.  (But I do think that the 1982 film is great fun….after you finish the book!)

You can purchase the The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide from Progeny Press, along with many other wonderful literature guides.  You’ll be astounded at the great options available!

Enjoy!  –Wren

You can visit Progeny Press at these social media links:

Twitter:  @progenypress

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Science Shepherd Life Science ~ A TOS Review from finchnwren

Recently, we were offered the opportunity to review Science Shepherd‘s Science Shepherd Life Science, via the Schoolhouse Review Crew (TOS).  What a complete and full life science curriculum!

Science Shepherd banner 1

What is Science Shepherd?

Science Shepherd is a science curriculum company which was started by a homeschool dad, Dr. Scott Hardin (who has a bachelor’s degree in science and is also a practicing physician), as his children were approaching high school age and he was concerned about what he saw as a lack of exceptional science curricula for older homeschooled students.  This company has produced both biology and life science courses (for older students), plus an introductory science course for younger ones.  Dr. Hardin’s hope was that with these materials, parents who were intimidated about teaching high school science courses would be able to teach them successfully while their children learned the necessary science concepts.

What is the Science Shepherd Life Science course?

The Science Shepherd Life Science is a complete life science course for middle school and junior high school students.  The course includes three components:

  • The Science Shepherd Life Science hardback textbook
  • The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet (softcover)
  • The Science Shepherd Life Science Answer Key & Parent Companion (softcover)

Science Shepherd 3The Science Shepherd Life Science Textbook

This textbook contains 19 chapters which cover key life science topics.  Here’s just a sampling of the rich information covered here:

  • Characteristics and chemistry of life
  • Cells; their membranes, interiors, and reproduction
  • DNA; its structure and function
  • Heredity
  • Evolution and Creation
  • Scientific Classification (from bacteria and viruses to plants and animals)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • and more!

The pages are glossy with a nice finish, and each page has interesting photos or great diagrams on the material being presented.  The chapters are divided into segments (4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and so on), and scientific terms are in boldface print.  Each chapter begins with a number of questions to be answered and ends with definitions of terms discussed in each one.  In addition, chapters close with a list of study questions which students can answer (although they’ll need to provide their own paper, a spiral notebook, or a binder if they’d like to write the answers).  The book starts with the definition and characteristics of life, and moves into more intricate areas as the chapters progress.

The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet

The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet is designed to be used alongside the life science textbook.  Every few chapters, the textbook will refer the parent and student to take the accompanying test in the test booklet.  There are 9 tests in the booklet, which cover all the chapters in the book.  The test questions are all essay or short answer.  Students can actually write in the booklet, as there are spaces left under each question.

This test booklet is designed to show mastery of the science learned; that the student really understands what he has been studying.  Parents may assign all, or some, of the questions, and they can be answered by the student either orally or in written form.  If students learn and know the definitions at the end of each chapter in the textbook, and can completely answer the study questions there, they ought to be able to successfully complete the questions in the test booklet.


Science Shepherd pic 2The Science Shepherd Life Science Answer Key & Parent Companion

This book might just be one of the more effective teacher’s guide for parents that I’ve ever seen!  It contains a 5-day schedule for each of the 36 weeks it takes to complete the Science Shepherd Life Science textbook, with sections assigned for daily reading.  There are also days scheduled for the students to answer the chapters’ study questions, and take the tests.  So many parents will simply be able to follow this schedule to complete the course in one school year.

Also, it contains an answer key for both the study questions and the tests.  Last but not least, the entire second half of the book walks parents step-by-step through what is covered in each textbook chapter.  It has all the sections covered in each chapter reprinted in this book; but here, it has the answers for each question in addition to the definitions and explanations.  So, parents can use this book alongside their students without having to borrow the textbook from their children.


Science Shepherd pic 1How we used this:

We intended to use this life science course for our main science spine during the review period…which we did.  There is SO much that I love about Science Shepherd.  It is written from the perspective of the truthfulness of God’s Word, and the evolution theory being a complete contrast to Genesis’ account of creation.  So, that perspective informs the science taught from the first chapter all the way through the end.

However, I discovered that it was a much more difficult course than I had anticipated.  It is designed for middle school or junior high school students (which I have; my son Jackson, who used this course, is an 8th grader).  We struggled to find just the right way for him to study it.  We began by using the recommended schedule in the Answer Key & Parent Companion.  But it became apparent that that was too much information, covered too quickly for us.  So we cut down the reading a bit, which helped some, but we still needed to find a way for him to read and absorb the information at the same time.

I finally had the idea to create some worksheets, where Jackson could write in definitions, draw diagrams, and list pertinent information as he was reading.  Jackson also utilized some blank notebooking pages.  (Neither of these is included in the curriculum.)   Bonanza!  This was what we had needed all along.  Suddenly, the scientific material that had sort of swirled around his head became concrete, visual, and understandable.  And an added bonus was that now, he was creating his own study sheets for the tests!

In conclusion:

Science Shepherd Life Science is well-written and well-organized.  We would say that it is a challenging program for middle-schoolers, but that it IS doable by them.  It will require diligent study, but the rewards of that study will be appreciated; and the curriculum really prepares students for more difficult high school science courses later on.

If you’re looking for a rigorous homeschool science curriculum that is Biblically-based for your children, try Science Shepherd.  It is beautifully designed and has great resources for the parent/teacher.  (We just recommend that you somehow find a way for your student to involve writing as he studies.  This will help in both retention and understanding.)

You may purchase both Science Shepherd Life Science and other science courses from Science Shepherd.

Enjoy!  –Wren

Visit Science Shepherd at their social media sites:
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Logic of English Essentials ~ Thorough, Complete, Awesome!

We’re so thrilled to have received the brand-new complete set of Logic of English Essentials Second Edition Volume 1 to review, via the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

LOE 2 Banner

We were very fortunate to have reviewed the first edition of Logic of English‘s Essentials in 2013, and its accompanying Rhythm of Handwriting cursive program a couple of years ago.  As a homeschooling mom, I was incredibly impressed with the meticulous nature of the 1st Edition of Essentials.  And to say that Rhythm of Handwriting saved our sanity with cursive isn’t much of an exaggeration!

So naturally, when I heard that Logic of English had published a Second Edition of their incredible program, I was intrigued.  Was it possible to improve on (almost) perfection?  Well….yes!  Let me tell you about it, and about our experiences with it.

LOE 2 products pic

What is Logic of English Essentials?

Logic of English Essentials is a complete language arts program that teaches students aged 8 all the way through adults learners effective reading, word decoding, grammar, spelling and vocabulary.  It is equally well-suited to multi-age and single-child homeschools; students learning English as a second language; or students in a traditional classroom.  It teaches language arts methodically, in every learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  By learning phonograms (the sounds that letters make either together or in groups) and spelling rules, students are able to decode and spell sounds and words.  The Essentials vocabulary study also includes Greek and Latin roots study.  And, there are games and activities sprinkled throughout, so a student’s attention level is always high and attentive!

The Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition includes the following:

  • The Second Edition Essentials Student Workbook, Volume 1
  • The Second Edition Essentials Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1
  • A Spelling Journal
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Grammar Flash Cards
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards
  • Morpheme Flash Cards
  • Phonogram Game Tiles
  • A laminated Quick Reference Card for spelling and phonograms
  • Phonogram Game Cards (Manuscript or Cursive)
  • Phonogram Bookface Game Cards deck
  • Spelling Analysis Card

As you can see, this program is very generous and includes everything you need to successfully teach this language arts program!


How does Essentials work, exactly?

The Teacher’s Guide outlines what each week covers and each day’s lesson consists of.  It even has a step-by-step script for you to follow!  At the beginning of each chapter is a box highlighting what will be taught over the course of the week.  For example, in Lesson 2 (pictured above), students will learn about: the phonograms ck, ee, ng, th (with an extra phonogram for more experienced spellers); the sounds of long and short vowels; two Spelling Rules; spelling with the /k/ sound; some grammar; and vocabulary over the course of a week.  In addition, there are sidebars for each of the 5 days’ work in each chapter, so that teachers can pull out the necessary flash cards and/or books.

This is the format that each lesson follows in Essentials:

  • Day 1: Essential Concepts.  Here, you’ll meet new phonograms, spelling rules, and explore sounds of phonograms.
  • Day 2:  Building Words. Review games and spelling work comprise the Day 2 work.
  • Day 3:  Words in Context.  Review of the first two days’ work plus grammar.
  • Day 4:  Words in Action.  Review, vocabulary, dictation, composition, reading.
  • Day 5:  Check Your Understanding.  All of the new information covered in the first four days of the week is reviewed and reinforced.

Students utilize their own Essentials Student Workbook Volume 1 each day during lessons; it corresponds exactly to the lessons in the Teacher’s Guide.  They’ll work in their own Spelling Journals, and they’ll need an additional notebook (like a spiral notebook or a composition book) for composition and dictation.

LOE 2 flash cardsYou’ll notice that the flash cards listed in the curriculum set above are many!  However, it’s not confusing at all to use them.  As I mentioned in the daily work list, students will be introduced to new phonograms (these will be Basic and/or Advanced), spelling rules, and morphemes.  The flash cards are used each week for introduction, learning, and review.

Students also get to play games which reinforce the lessons they’re learning, with the card decks and the Phonogram Tiles (among others!).

At the beginning of the Teacher’s Guide, you’ll find instructions on how to teach Essentials as well as some pre-tests for your students.  These pre-tests allow you to see your student’s current level of competence in language arts, and if he needs a bit of remedial work.  There are also three different levels of spelling words in each lesson (A, B, C), with each one gradually increasing in difficulty.  You’ll know after the pre-tests which one your student should work with.

LOE 2 student wkbkHow we used it:

Although we’d used the first edition of Essentials several years ago, it has been awhile since my son Jackson has worked with it.  So we started as all new students would with the new Essentials; I gave Jackson the pre-test.  (He is still working with the principles from Rhythm of Handwriting, although it’s more in the form of copywork now, so I didn’t test him on that.)  He was able to bypass the pre-lessons which are designed to get a student up to speed for the course, and we simply began with Lesson 1.

Because of the 5-day design of Essentials, it works perfectly to spread out over the course of a week.  I love this, because the student learns new information every day, in each area of language arts, then reviews it on Fridays.  (There are also assessments for the student to take.)  For the purposes of review, we covered about 3 days, instead of 5 per week.

Because each lesson is completely scripted for the teacher, it is relatively simple to just pick up the book and go.  However, I recommend that you read through each lesson at the beginning of the week and gather all the different supplies (phonogram cards, spelling cards, grammar cards, game supplies) beforehand.  You really do need to know what you’re going to be covering and how you’ll be teaching it, even if you are reading from a script!

You’ll also want to set aside a place to keep all your card groups.  I just rubber-banded mine and put them all in a large Ziploc.  But, you could also use small file boxes.

LOE 2 BingoWhat we thought:

It took a couple of weeks for Jackson to get back into the swing of things.  We haven’t looked at phonograms in awhile (although we have worked with Greek and Latin roots), so moving from what he’s used to seeing in words to breaking the word parts down to the sounds each phonogram makes took some thinking.  It was as if you were looking at a car; you know how to start it and how to drive it (well, if you’re over sixteen, anyway!).  But most of us don’t normally think about the axles, the carburetor, the spark plugs.  We just know that they’re there and that they all work together so that our car actually starts and drives!  It was the same thing with these phonograms.  He is so used to looking at a word and knowing what it means that he doesn’t think about what each part says to compose the word.

Interestingly, I found that Jackson did the best with Essentials this time around when we broke up several of the lessons into two lessons.  It wasn’t that the lessons themselves were too difficult for him.  Rather, I think that because he’s already such a fluent reader and decoder, he just needed more time to absorb the phonograms and rules into the reading comprehension information that’s already stored in his brain.  Once we were into the swing of things that wasn’t necessary.

Let me tell you, though, why this program has been so good.  Jackson has a great vocabulary and a skilled reader.  But, he is still introduced to words on a regular basis.  Sometimes he pronounces them perfectly, and sometimes there’s a slight miss or an emphasis on the wrong syllable.  Essentials will, in time, enable him to bypass those errors and simply know, because of the gentle repetition of the phonograms lessons, how and why to pronounce each word a certain way!

I’ve also loved for him to have more dictation in his lessons.  We haven’t focused on listening and then writing what’s heard in a long time.  (Thanks to LOE‘s Rhythm of Handwriting, dictation isn’t nearly the detested exercise it used to be!)  And I must mention the spelling exercises!  Essentials spelling lessons don’t just teach how to spell words correctly.  They also teach where the syllables of each word are divided, how the words are used and the pronunciation marks which tell you how to correctly say each vowel.  I’ve never seen that before in a spelling program!

There are a lot of things I adore about Logic of English‘s Essentials.  I love the simplicity of the program.  Yes, there are a lot of parts and pieces to it.  But, with each lesson telling you exactly what to use and how to use it, there is never any confusion.  And there’s not so much memorization of phonograms which, let’s face it, would cause consternation to most students; rather, they’re repeated daily in the various exercises each lesson has.  They’re even bolstered by games, which students play regularly.  (Who doesn’t love bingo? :))

I also appreciate that with Essentials I really don’t need any other language arts program.  This covers Greek and Latin roots, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, reading, composition, dictation.  And it does so smoothly and incrementally, and at a pace with which students of all ages can really progress effectively.

My son is not a huge fan of grammar in general.  His favorite parts of this were the games and the writing portions, with vocabulary coming in third.  However, one doesn’t have to love a subject to excel in it, right?  And the components of English that he’s learning in Essentials will enable him to be a truly educated person with the language he’ll be using all his life, in business, ministry, and relationships.  How grateful I am that I don’t have to look any further for quality English language arts!  (I’m also thrilled that LOE will be publishing Volume 2 of Essentials soon!)

LOE 2 everythingIn conclusion:

You may purchase Essentials Second Edition Volume 1 at Logic of English.  I also want to tell you that Logic of English is the most helpful curriculum company.  They’re available to answer your questions, they have a blog you can refer to for teaching and learning tips, and their customer service is incredible.

Essentials really is ideal for practically every child.  Whether your child learns best visually, auditorially, or kinesthetically, he’ll benefit from Essentials.  If you’re looking for an English language arts course par excellence, look no further!

Enjoy!  –Wren


Facebook: @LogicOfEnglish

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Phenomenal, Sweet Bible Study for Kids from Grapevine Studies

This semester, Jackson and I were SO blessed to have the opportunity to use and review Grapevine Studies‘ Bible study for kids, the New Testament Overview Part 1, covering the Birth of John to Jesus’ Ministry.  We received a physical Teacher Level 3-4 Book and a physical Level 4 Student Book.




What is Grapevine Studies?

Frankly, it’s a Bible study company that I wish I had discovered years earlier!  Grapevine Studies produces the most creative and unusual Bible studies for children, ages 3 all the way through the teen years…and beyond!  Students read and hear God’s Word, and then draw the scenes they’ve just studied using stick figures.  It is truly the most creative Bible study method for children that I’ve ever used.  It is a delight!

Grapevine Studies has a huge variety of Bible studies that parents and teachers can choose from, like:

  • Creation to Jacob
  • The Resurrection
  • Birth of Jesus
  • Old Testament Timeline
  • Ruth
  • Joseph
  • Esther
  • and more!

They’re appropriate for families, homeschools, Bible classes, Sunday schools; really, anywhere that children are being taught the Word of God.


The New Testament Overview Part 1  Study

We received the physical set of Grapevine StudiesNew Testament Overview Part 1 for Level 4 students, who are teens.  This included a complete Level 3 & 4 Teacher book as well as the Level 4 Student book.  (We supplied the binders.)  The books have a printed cover which we slipped into our binders’ front sleeves.  The insides are 3-hole punched and ready to place in binders or folders.  The  course can either be taught with one lesson per week (e.g., for Sunday schools or other weekly meetings) or on a daily schedule (perfect for homeschools).  This will enable students to complete the course in 12 weekly lessons, or 45 daily ones.  For the Level 4 course, students will also need a Bible dictionary, a topical Bible, and a concordance which can be purchased separately from Grapevine Studies.  (And colored pencils.)

The Level 4 Student book covers New Testament events from the birth of John through Jesus’ ministry.  Students will learn Bible timelines, Scripture memory work, and complete pages for stick figuring the lessons.  There are also review pages at the conclusion of the lessons plus a Quest Page, which allows students to do extra study in their resource books (the Bible dictionary, topical Bible, and concordance).


The Level 3 & 4 Teacher book is a plethora of helpful information.  It includes an introduction to Grapevine Studies and their mission and purpose; goals for the student and teacher; scheduling tips and a supplies list; and directions for teaching the lessons, the timeline, review pages, Quest Pages, and section/final reviews.  It has a page for each lesson along with Scripture and lesson narratives, and fully drawn stick figures for each one of them!

How we used it

The short answer is, “with great delight!”  But you’d probably like to know what we did each day.  Basically, we just worked through the book a little bit at a time.  The Birth of John to Jesus’ Ministry begins with some Bible timelines, as Grapevine Ministries loves to lay out a clear foundation for each lesson and to show students where in Bible history things happened.  So we began with a timeline of the Old Testament!  Because really, all of our stories do begin with Adam, don’t they?  Other high points of Bible history are drawn, in stick figure form, on the timeline.  We looked at Noah, Abraham, David, the Babylonian Captivity before we reached the New Testament, and completed a New Testament timeline.  This timeline began with the birth of Jesus’ cousin, John and cruised through Jesus’ childhood, baptism, and ministry.

Each day, Jackson (my 14-year-old) and I would gather our binders and his colored pencils and sit down before our easel, which has a whiteboard on one side.  We have many colored whiteboard markers, which I used to draw the various characters in our lessons.  We’d read the listed Scriptures, then the short summaries on each event.  And then I’d draw the stick figures of the lesson on the whiteboard as Jackson drew them in his own book.


What we thought

It is a little hard…even with the superlative adjectives my readers know I regularly employ…to explain to you just how much we both LOVED this study.  First of all, it is Biblically accurate.  Each and every narrative is faithful to the Scriptures it is drawn from (no pun intended!)  Second, it is very easy for students to understand, and for teachers (or moms) to teach.  And third?

It is just a JOY.  It is a joy to teach, and a joy for the student to learn!  Every day when it was time to pick up our Grapevine Studies, both of us were honestly thrilled.  And joyful.  And we both commented on how neat the study was as we worked through each and every one!

Children delight in recreating the Biblical narratives through stick figures.  It is fun to do…and the amazing thing is that they really learn so much as they draw and listen.


Have you ever prepared Bible lessons for your children using curricula that was too deep or heavy for them, or just not right for their learning style?  We have; and I am always dismayed at those experiences.  My deep desire for my son is that he will love the Word of God; that he will know that he can always go to it for help; that it is one of the ways that he can draw closer to God.  A significant reason I am so delighted with Grapevine Studies is because it really aligns with those hopes I have for my son—and it helps him along in them!

You’ll notice that one of the adjectives in my title describes this Bible study as “sweet.”  It really, really is.  There are two verses that really sum up what Birth of John to Jesus’ Ministry has been to us.  First, Proverbs 16:24:  Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  And second, Psalm 34:8:  O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!  Every day that we opened our Grapevine Studies, we tasted the goodness of the Lord, and the sweetness of His words.  And if that’s not reason enough to use this particular Bible study…I don’t know what is!

And finally….

I’m sure you can already tell that we adored Grapevine StudiesNew Testament Overview Part 1.  My son Jackson wanted to say, “Definitely! I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to try it, because it is so good.  It is phenomenal!”  I am in absolute agreement.  This study is Biblically sound, and the Scripture study is faithfully presented.  But it’s the daily creative work itself that is the most unusual.  When students (and teachers) draw the stick figures as they study each Bible story or fact, they’re not only doing something fun and creative; they’re making mental connections in their hearts and minds in ways I’ve never seen in other Bible study methods.

Visit Grapevine Studies to purchase New Testament Overview Part 1, and you can see all their other amazing Bible studies.  You won’t regret it!  And you can stop by to visit their social media pages via the links below.


Enjoy!  –Wren


Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

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A Peek at Some Posts Coming Your Way

Hi everyone!

I hope that all of you are having a great start to your 2016.  We have started our second semester of 8th grade homeschool and are getting used to the spring schedule.  Unfortunately, we’ve had some colds already this year (I think mine might be a reboot of the one I had at Christmas).  But….liquids, chicken soup, and staying home will help us move past that, I am hoping!

I wanted to share with you about some products we’ll be using in our homeschool or in our home in the coming weeks, that I’ll be reviewing a little later on.  I’m very excited about them–we feel blessed to be able to utilize so many amazing things!

In our homeschool:

Zonderkidz has a new Bible that I am certain will become a beloved favorite for any child who loves Lego.  It’s called Faith Builders Bible, and it’s full of amazing builds for Bible stories.  As well as very cool building activities.  SO excited!

Do you ever get concerned about some of the unwholesome content that your children or teens might stumble across on the Internet?  We’re going to be trying out the Plug n’ Play Hub by Securly, which is designed to keep unwanted material from popping up while you and your kids browse the web.  I’m especially excited to use this on YouTube, where some really inappropriate things can appear when we’re trying to look up piano performances of songs for my son’s piano practices!

We’re also trying out a website that provides worksheets and online learning for middle- and high-schoolers called HelpTeaching.  We’re just using it for the first time this week, but it is full of learning opportunities in math, social studies, language arts, science, art and more.

Heirloom Audio Productions, the makers of fabulous historical audio dramas, has just published its newest dramatization, called The Dragon and the Raven, all about how King Alfred saved England from the Danes and helped start a Christian revival in his nation.  So excited about this one!

In our home:

I received a copy of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook a couple of weeks ago as well.  I’ve heard about the THM way for a few years but it always seemed a bit overwhelming.  However, this cookbook is full of gorgeous and delicious-sounding recipes.  Can’t wait to make my list and start cooking!

On the blog:

I’m currently hosting a giveaway for the newest PASSION album, Salvation’s Tide Is Rising, featuring Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, and other excellent artists.  This closes on Thursday, January 21, so click over to enter today!

I’m looking forward to sharing more about these homeschool products with you starting later this month.  You’ll be hearing more!

Enjoy!  –Wren