Not Back to School Blog Hop! Our Curriculum Faves

Hello again! It’s Day 3 of the Homeschool Review Crew’s Not Back to School Blog Hop!


Annual NOT Back to School Blog Hop 2020

Today, we get to talk about our curriculum favorites! I’ll be looking back on our 14 years of homeschool (preschool plus kindergarten to senior year) and sharing with you the things that: we loved the most, or that made learning amazing, or that had an enormous impact on Jackson or our family in general. There is SO much great curricula out there for homeschool families! Here are just a few of our faves.


Old favorites from our Five In A Row days

Five in a Row

Five in a Row Book 1 was the first “real” curriculum we used in our homeschool journey. Although this series is keyed to ages five to nine, Jackson was an early reader and it was a perfect fit for us. And, a beautiful one!

The “five in a row” idea is focused around excellent picture books in children’s literature (e.g. The Story of Ping, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, A Pair of Red Clogs, Grandfather’s Journey, and much more.). For one week, you read (or your child reads) the picture book each day. Then, the book provides a math activity, an art activity, a geography activity, a science activity, and a literature activity. Together, you and your child complete one of these per day during the week. It was gentle, beautiful, and a lovely way to begin home learning. Just a joy to do together!

We purchased the Five in a Row Book 1 (and Book 2), but we checked the literature books out from the library. Along with many other families, I’m sure, because I remember we couldn’t get the book Cranberry Thanksgiving until sometime in mid-December!

I was also able to track down a copy of of The Five in a Row Cookbook , which contained recipes keyed to each of the books we read. Some of our favorite family times cooking together came out of this book. (Steak fries and apple pie are two that come to mind!)


Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your Math Homework

This was the most charming, hilarious, educational “cookbook” ever! It’s a wonderful way to integrate scientific principles in visual, aromatic, and palate-pleasing ways! You and your child will have the opportunity to make:

  • Sedimentary Lasagna
  • Atomic Popcorn Balls
  • Invisible Ink Snack Pockets
  • and more!

Assembling the Fibonacci Snack Sticks

The Eat Your Math Homework book is just as fun (maybe more so!). Using this book, we cooked as we learned about fractions, tessellations, tangrams, pi, probability, and more math ideas that are sometimes difficult to visualize in real time and space. This book brought these to life and we had a blast reading the book and creating the foods!

These books are designed for kids aged 7-10, but I honestly think middle schoolers and even high schoolers will find them fun and hilarious.


Hammerhead Shark Food Web, created by Jackson

Bridgeway Academy’s Marine Biology Course

When Jackson was in fifth grade, we had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Bridgeway Academy’s Marine Biology course. This course was taught in an online classroom and was a complete and fabulous marine biology course. The class met weekly for teacher-taught sessions, then completed coursework during the week. Students learned about ocean zones, sea creatures (mammals, invertebrates, crustaceans, and more), taxonomy, and food webs. And their homework was so interesting and really helped lock the information in Jackson’s mind. We were truly sorry when the class was over!


Go Science Review

Ben Roy’s Go Science!

This is an incredible and precious science resource. Ben Roy presents scientific concepts (everything from magnetism to flight to chemistry to water, and tons more) to elementary-aged kids. The science is rock-solid and absolutely SO cool. And, he draws all the scientific concepts back to God, the Creator. As Christians, we just were so moved and encouraged by this series and appreciated the great science. There are 7 volumes/DVDs.



EEME provided one of our most fascinating science/tech experiences. They are a company devoted to teaching kids the wonders of electronics and technology, with monthly kits. Each of these kits starts with a breadboard, a battery, a plastic plate, wires, and other electronica; and future kits send additional tools and tech so that kids can build different projects and learn about the coolness of programming. Online videos show students how to build each one, step-by-step. We highly recommend this!


In conclusion

It is funny, I noticed that most of our curriculum faves were science-related! We loved many other educational processes, but these stood out for the unusual and beloved.

We really have used SO many amazing products over our homeschool career. If you’d like to see more of our wonderful experiences, you can put “TOS Reviews” or “Reviews” in the search bar (found in the sidebar of the blog) to find out more about them. There is a LOT of incredible curricula out there.



Annual NOT Back to School Blog Hop 2020Be sure to click on the pink link below so that you can check out other Homeschool Review Crew members’ curriculum favorites!


Enjoy!  –Wren

All About Capacitors – Our Experiences with EEME’s “Fade to Black”

*affiliate links included*

We just completed another EEME project, Fade to Black!  EEME generously provided this project for us to use, so we could share our opinions and review with you!  And we loved Fade to Black just as much as we have all the EEME kits we’ve tried.  It’s really just exceptional kid science.


And for any parent out there who wanted to know what Doc Brown’s “flux capacitor” really did….Fade to Black will unlock that mystery for you!  🙂

What is Fade to Black?

The Fade to Black project introduces kid scientists to the STEM world of LEDs, Farads, stored energy, circuits, and capacitors.  This project, like all EEME projects, builds on the original breadboard and battery set that comes in the Basic 6-Project Set (in the first project, Genius Light, to be exact).

The new components in Fade to Black are:

  • an LED light
  • a transistor
  • long wires
  • resistors
  • Two capacitors
  • a push-button switch

With these components, the child will build four different circuits that accomplish four different jobs.  As always, the project comes with a complete step-by-step video tutorial by EEME Dad Jack, with instructions, safety features, questions for the student, and scientific explanations for the whys and hows of the activities.  An accompanying lesson summary can also be printed, if you’d like to have a record of what your child has studied and learned in this.


Some of the amazing things we saw in Fade to Black:

A push-button, which, when connected to the battery and LED lights via wires and resistors, caused the LED light to come on….as well as performing another important task!

Two kinds of capacitors!  You can see one of them in the picture above; it’s the component with the blue arrow pointing at it.  I want to tell you what it does, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers!  (Yes, if you really want to know what the flux capacitor did, you’re going to have to try out Fade to Black for yourself!)  I will tell you that there is a connection between the button, the capacitor, and the LED (no pun intended).

Those are only two of the builds/activities we completed in Fade to Black.  As EEME Dad Jack has done in our other projects, he starts with the simplest build or activity to introduce the components and principles to the child.  Then, each activity becomes a little more complex or contains more components and steps.  But every single activity certainly contains the “Wow!” factor!


And finally….

Fade to Black was our 5th EEME project.  And I noticed some really wonderful things as we worked through this one!  First, Jackson has really grown in his understanding of circuits, electricity, technology, and the various components EEME has introduced him to.  Other than taking the photos, I didn’t do anything on this project besides sitting and watching the teaching videos and Jackson’s construction of each activity!  Second, he has really grown in his confidence in working with these technologies.  He’s very comfortable watching the videos and following the directions EEME Dad Jack is giving.  I am truly excited about this, because I know that he is REALLY learning.  And I love that he’s learning these things now, because he’ll revisit these concepts again in high school, when he takes physics.  EEME is an incredible, delightful, and truly wonderful addition to our science studies.

Jackson said, when I asked him if he could share a couple of things he liked about Fade to Black, “Of course!  I loved the buttons!”  So here are his impressions:

“This was our first EEME project to feature a push-button component, and I absolutely loved it. Pushing the button to make the light come on is fun, but it becomes even more fun and cool as the project progresses and when you let go of the button, the light fades. This project introduced me to some new components such as the button and the capacitors, and was a very well-done project.”

As you can see, he loved this project!

I’m very happy to recommend both EEME and Fade to Black to you!  You can purchase Fade to Black from EEME, via their Basic 6-Project Set.  Be sure to visit EEME and check out their free materials, which you can download directly from their website.  I think you’ll be very, very impressed!

Enjoy—I know you will!  –Wren

Disclosure: We at finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own (and our family’s) opinions of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


Science & Electricity: Our Experiences with EEME’s Project Attraction

*Affiliate links are included in this post.*

Over the holidays, we completed our most recent EEME kit:  Project Attraction.

EEME is a wonderful company which creates STEM project kits for children.  Even younger kids can complete these projects, but generally with parents’ assistance.  For each project kit, EEME provides a step-by-step video tutorial (at the EEME website, available for each kit) which walks the user through all the different building directions for each kit.  We’ve happily completed EEME’s Project Tentacles, Project DIY Display (my personal fave, thus far), and Project Genius Light.  Each one of these projects has been a joy to put together and learn from; both my son Jackson and I have learned more than I could have imagined about engineering and technology!  EEME’s kits have been a phenomenal addition to our science studies.

What is Project Attraction?

Project Attraction builds on the original breadboard (and battery), like the other EEME projects in this series; each kit teaches children about some facet of STEM technology.  This one teaches about electricity, magnetism, current, heat, and….electromagnetism!

This kit includes the following components, which enable you to complete several projects with this kit:

  • A tiny, yet powerful, magnet
  • A steel bolt
  • LED light
  • Resistor
  • A reed switch
  • Wire coil
  • Long wire
  • AA battery
  • Paper clip, sandpaper, rubber band
  • (We use the original breadboard from the first EEME set.)

And as always, EEME has provided a step-by-step online tutorial which provides instruction, cautionary recommendations, and the whys and wherefores of the way the components work alone and when put together.

Of the four EEME projects that we’ve built, Project Attraction has the most for the parent to do. This is because Project Attraction adds an electromagnet and more electrical current in the building of the kit on the breadboard; and also because the wire used to create the electromagnet is somewhat delicate.  I admit that this made me a little nervous; I just don’t have that much familiarity or experience with electrical current.  However, EEME’s tutorial provides very clear instructions while issuing very clear warnings about what NOT to do (like using a more powerful battery instead of the one included in the kit; i.e. DO NOT DO THIS).  So as you can imagine, we followed EEME Dad’s instructions TO THE LETTER.  And we were able to complete our project successfully!

So…what were some of the cool things we did in Project Attraction?

We built an electromagnet!

We learned about reed switches (I’m not going to describe them too much, because I don’t want to give you too many spoilers!).  These are seriously one of the coolest components we’ve been introduced to by EEME…and that’s saying something!  You can see it below; it’s the one with the arrow pointing at it.  You might also notice that the LED light is on.  Don’t you wonder how that happened?

We also learned about how and why heat is generated in an electromagnet; how to get power using an electromagnet; how and why to strip a wire, and so much more.

In conclusion:

Project Attraction is yet another fascinating STEM project from EEME.  Although there are a number of important safety procedures to follow, the parent and child build electronics and tech that are high in the “wow!” factor, and teach more important STEM principles.

You can purchase Project Attraction and the Basic 6-Project Set at EEME’s website, along with all their other excellent and affordable science kits.  Check it out!  And, you can also find free online STEM lessons at the same links, where you can get more of a taste of what EEME is like.

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  Finch and Wren have affiliate relationships with a number of excellent companies.  If you purchase an item through our affiliate links, finchnwren will earn a commission.  However, you will never pay more for the item when you purchase it through our links.  And, we only recommend products that we truly believe in.  Thank you!


Things We Love: EEME & Giveaways!

Our family ADORES…yes, really!…EEME.  This incredible company creates STEM project kits for families that will teach both you and your children loads about engineering, electricity, circuits, tech, and all kinds of science facts and processes.


Now you have the chance to win 3 of EEME’s project kits!  If you’re brand-new to EEME, it’ll be the first three (Project Genius Light, Project DIY Display, Project Tentacles).  And if you’re already an EEME subscriber, it’ll be the next kits after the ones you’re currently working on.  So, whether you’re an EEME newbie or veteran, you will be thrilled with your win!

EEME and finchnwren are thrilled to offer one lucky person a chance to win.  Click through to the EEME Facebook page at Win an EEME 3-Month Subscription!, and guess the number of buzzers (used, btw, in Project Tentacles), to win!

Hope you’re enjoying this Thanksgiving weekend.  And remember, the giveaway ends 11/30/15….so enter today!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Enter to Win a 3-Month Subscription to EEME–Our Fave Kid Science/Electronics!

If you’ve read the finchnwren blog this fall, you’ve probably seen the EEME button on our sidebar…and maybe you’ve seen our posts reviewing their cool science project kits!

EEME 3-set giveaway banner

EEME is a company that teaches STEM techniques and lessons to children through their amazing electronic project kits, where children (and parents) build complete circuits, lights that switch on and off, buzzers that actually sound and more!  We have absolutely loved every kit we’ve received and built, and Jackson has learned some incredible engineering, technology, and science skills.

You can see more about the cool kits we’ve built and reviewed by clicking on the links below:


Proj Gen 4Project Genius Light


EEME Proj DIY Display 1Project DIY Display


Project Tentacles pic 4Project Tentacles

And now—the giveaway!

How would you like to win a fabulous three-month subscription to EEME, so that you and your kiddos can build some of these fascinating projects yourself?

Well, you can!  EEME and finchnwren are joining together to give away these awesome STEM kid projects.  What you’ll need to do (no Rafflecopter this time!) is hop over to the EEME Facebook page via this link:  Win an EEME 3-Month Subscription!

EEME Dad Jack has designed a fun giveaway.  He has a tub full of the buzzer component from the Project Tentacles kit.  All you have to do is guess the number of the buzzers!  Then, you can like the posts and share.

These kits are SO amazing and cool.  They make learning about STEM the most rewarding and enriching experience.

One winner will be selected on 11/30/15, and the projects will be shipped directly to that winner.

Enter today—and best wishes!

Enjoy!  –Wren


Introducing EEME’s Project AMP….and a Giveaway!

**Affiliate links are included.**

Here’s YOUR chance to win a huge–and cool–EEME project!

You all have heard me talk about EEME in recent posts.  EEME is a fabulous company devoted to getting kids involved in electronics and engineering projects, as young as age 7!  We’ve been working through their Builder Basic 6-Project Set, and have  the first two, Project Genius Light and Project DIY Display.



I have to tell you, I adore this company.  We have built electronic machines on breadboards and have learned SO much.  I doubted my ability to do this well (although I never doubted Jackson’s, who has been a Lego builder for years).  But because EEME’s step-by-step videos and instructions are so clear and understandable, we’ve successfully completed both our projects.  And learned so much in the process!

Each month, we receive another project from the Builder Basic 6-Project Set to build and review.  And every month, it’s something amazing!

But now….let me introduce you to EEME’s newest!

How would you like to help your child build an actual set of speakers for a musical device?  Project Amp–the newest and biggest creation from EEME–will help you do just that!

Project Amp is an actual amplifier and speaker that can connect to your smartphone or music player.  It’s much bigger than the sets we’ve been building, but EEME has designed it to be just as user-friendly and understandable as the smaller sets.  In the process, builders will learn more about circuits, capacitors, volume, speakers and current, with actual hands-on building activities.

Read more about Project Amp by clicking the link!  There are even free online lessons you can view there.

And…the giveaway!

You have the opportunity to win your very own Project Amp from EEME, worth $189.95!  Just enter below!  The giveaway closes October 1, 2015.  Best wishes! Project Amp Giveaway

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  Finch and Wren have affiliate relationships with a number of excellent companies.  If you purchase an item through our affiliate links, finchnwren will earn a commission.  However, you will never pay more for the item when you purchase it through our links.  And, we only recommend products that we truly believe in.  Thank you!