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

TOS Review: Library and Educational Services–Go Science

Go Science ReviewHave you ever heard of Library and Educational Services?  It is a wonderful company from which both homeschoolers AND educational or library professionals can purchase products at dramatically discounted prices!  (You can see who qualifies for these prices on the company’s FAQ page.)  They sell books (both fiction and nonfiction, for readers of all ages), audio dramas, and DVD series very affordably, perfect for any family budget!  (Which, if you are a homeschooler, you’re likely very familiar with juggling!)  Recently our family was blessed to review an incredible DVD science set from Library and Educational Services, called Go Science Series 2.  All three of us (mom, dad and 12yo son) were absolutely delighted with them!

Go Science is a DVD science series that currently contains 7 volumes.  (We hope they’ll produce more!)  Host Ben Roy (whose background includes a professorship of science methods at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; former director of News Channel 9’s “Science Theatre;” and science lesson productions for the Weather Channel), along with a studio full of kids, presents a broad variety of fascinating science experiments and lessons from a Christian worldview.  Some of these you can do at home and some you’ll NEVER be able to, but you’ll adore watching them!

Go Science Review We were able to select two volumes to watch and review, and Jackson chose Volumes 1 and 2:  “Sound * Gravity * Space” and “Life Science * Weather.”  We watched them both in order….as a matter of fact, once we started watching them, we couldn’t stop!  They’re designed for children ages 4-12, but children older will still enjoy them.  (Parents will, too!)  Each of the DVDs we watched had a running time of an hour or just over, and contains many episodes of experiments which last from about 4-8 minutes each.  Ben Roy includes several children from his studio audience in each experiment, and he explains each scientific process very simply and clearly, so that viewers always understand exactly what’s going on.  In fact, my husband and I learned more cool science ourselves, as we watched Go Science with Jackson!

Go Science ReviewGo Science Volume 1:  “Sound * Gravity * Space”

In this first volume, Ben Roy teaches, in a kind and fascinating manner, scientific principles of sound (frequency; vibration; low and high pitches; sound waves), gravity (Newton’s third law of physics; why gravity and air both work against falling objects) and space (modeling the size of the Earth vs. the Sun’s size; what happens with heated air; UV rays; and propulsion).  He presents each of these with imaginative illustrations and experiments that bring the scientific principles to life, in ways the viewer will never forget!

Here’s a sampling of some of the experiments you’ll enjoy in Go Science Volume 1, “Sound * Gravity * Space:”

  • Screaming Pop Can
  • Balloon with Nut (a lug nut, that is!)
  • Rubens’ Tube (did you know you can observe sound waves with a contraption built from a muffler, propane gas and flame?  You will love seeing this apparatus that you probably won’t want to try at home!)
  • Breaking Glass (by bombarding it with sound waves)
  • Sun Golf Balls (how many golf balls would it take to fill the sun?)
  • Solar Bag (the longest bag you’ve ever seen….and you won’t believe what it does!)

At the risk of including “spoilers,” I won’t tell you much about each experiment….I don’t want to ruin your viewing pleasure!  But I will tell you that our most favorite experiment included liquid nitrogen and explosions!


Go Science Review 

Go Science Volume 2:  “Life Science * Weather”

In Go Science Volume 2, Ben Roy teaches first about different topics of life science, or living creatures from animal to human.  He covers topics like:

  • Flashlights and Spider Eyes
  • The skulls of animal predators and prey (and why they’re shaped the ways they are)
  • How much air can your lungs hold? (illustrated with a homemade spirometer)
  • What happens when you combine an egg with vinegar…and why?
  • Did you know you can extract the iron from your breakfast cereal?  (and how?)

In the second portion of Volume 2, “Weather,” there is even more excitement!  Ben Roy teaches about high and low pressure, vacuum, and clouds and gases in these (and other) riveting presentations:

  • the Fire Tornado
  • Liquid Nitrogen Cloud
  • Ping Pong Cannon
  • Cloud in a Bottle

Proverbs 25:2 (NIV) is one of my personal favorites in the Bible, and when I read this verse I always think of scientific discovery and why it’s important for us to learn about science.  It says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”  God has hidden so many incredible and amazing scientific truths around us.   Whether they are on a microscopic level, whether they are invisible or something we can actually reach out and touch, everything we learn can increase our awe of the mind of God that conceived them originally!  I mentioned earlier that the Go Science videos are presented from a Christian worldview, and it seems as though Ben Roy might agree with my application of Proverbs 25:2!  He says, at the end of each video experiment, this phrase:  “Every time we learn more about science, we learn more about our Creator–God.”  Our family would wholeheartedly and happily agree!

Here’s what my son Jackson says about Go Science:  “I really liked it, and the perspective it was from.  It taught science in a sweet way.  I had a lot of favorite experiments, but I liked them all!  I would definitely recommend them!”  My husband has put the other 5 Go Science DVDs on our wish list (hopefully for purchase in the not-too-distant future)!

Each of the Go Science Series 2 DVDs is available from Library and Educational Services for the discounted price of $8.97.  (Or you can buy all 7 for $59.82!)

Other TOS Crew members reviewed the Go Science series, and you can read about their experiences at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.  You’ll even be able to read about different DVDs than our family reviewed there…just go to the linked page and you’ll be able to see which blogger reviewed which of the seven DVDs!

Enjoy!  –Wren

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