Thursday, July 30, 2020

The LIFE Plan (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

For the last few weeks, my family have been sitting together having family Bible study using The LIFE Plan, a series of 6 volumes from The LIFE Network and written by Allen L. Elder.

LIFE stands for Living Intentionally for Eternity and is a Bible curriculum designed around the story, structure, strategy and service plan of the Bible. Each of the six volumes can be used as a full one year Bible course if the student completes one lesson per week for a full school year. This allows for a full 12 years of Bible curriculum if the student uses one volume per year and then repeats halfway thru their schooling if starting the curriculum in 1st grade.  It is expected that if a parent wishes to use the curriculum in this manner, that the parent assists the student in grades 1 through 6th, reading and presenting the material to the student, especially in the lower grade levels.  After completing the 6th volume for the first time, the student begins with Volume 1 a second time, but this time the student is expected to go deeper into the lesson material and learn how to apply the lesson material to their own lives. By completing the curriculum in this manner, the student should graduate with a solid Biblical foundation  that will hopefully follow them throughout their lives. 

The LIFE Plan's 6 volumes each tackle different portions or the Bible and different aspects of Christian living. 

Volume 1 - The Bible's Story: Genesis 1-11. This volume presents the background of the Bible's story in Genesis chapters 1-11, covering topics such as the creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, how life was before the fall of man and how it changed following the fall, and how the fall changed our relationship with God.

Volume 2 - Abraham and Israel  begins with Genesis 12 and goes in depth with the story of Abraham and Israel and follows through til the end of the Old Testament. In addition to Abraham and Israel, readers will also learn about Moses, the fall of Jericho, King Saul and King David, and the Babylonian captivity.

Volume 3 - The Structure of the Bible presents the structure of the Bible in it's entirety. From Genesis to Revelation, both the Old and New Testaments are broken into categories such as historical, books of poetry, Prophetical books, and letters.  These categories are broken down into subcategories such as major or minor prophets, pre-exilic records, and Gentile-Christian letters.  This volume helps the reader understand these categories.

Volume 4 - The Life of Jesus on Earth tells the story of the life and work of Jesus Christ upon the earth, from the prophecies of his birth found in the Old Testament, to his birth and childhood and on to his ministry.  His miracles, his parables, his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension and the promise of his second coming are all covered in this volume.

Volume 5 - The Church takes a look at the church from a Biblical perspective. The history of the church, the trials that early Christians faced, the reformation, as well how non-Christian religions, cults and the occult create difficulties for Christians today are covered.

Volume 6 - Your Part in the Story takes everything learned in the previous 5 volumes and shows how to use the knowledge learned and use it to create a personal, disciple making ministry in your own life. This volume covers topics such as salvation, living a Christian life, the purpose God has for the Christians life and how to read the Bible, memorize scripture and how Prayer is a powerful tool in our lives.

Each volume is roughly 200 pages in length and broken into blocks, themes and lessons.  The Block designation simply coincides with the volume that the reader is currently working through, so Block 1 would be Volume 1, Block 2 is Volume 2, and so on.  The Theme and Lessons break down the lessons into subsets that follow the same idea. For example, in Volume 1, Theme 1 is about God.  There are four lessons included in the theme: The Existence of God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Theme 2 is the first three days of Creation, with a lesson covering each day, followed by Theme 3 covering the days 4-7 of the Creation, each having their own lesson.

Each lesson follows the same format: first introducing the aim of the lesson, followed by a scripture selection that supports the lesson  and then the lesson itself. The text of the lesson is fairly short, 1 to 3 pages each and explains the material that is being presented.

Following each lesson text, the author includes an outline that breaks down the material into key words or ideas as well as a selection of scriptures to help broaden the readers understanding of the materia, as well as an outline of ideas that focus on doctrine, soteriology, bibliology, and anthropology.

The author also includes a section with definitions of words used in the lesson that the reader may be unfamiliar with.  Finally, the lesson ends with several questions, some of which are straightforward and taken from the reading, as well as questions that either ask the reader to identify how the material either relates to them or how they can apply it to their lives.

How We Used It

Since we are already using a Bible curriculum as part of our homeschool with the kids, we instead decided to use The Life Plan as family devotional/Bible time after dinner.  We decided to start with Volume 1, reading one lesson a day, four to five days a week.  We found that our quiet time directly after dinner before everyone split up for their individual personal time worked best.  Each evening, my husband, myself, and our three kids - Alyssa (21), Garrett (13) and Ashleigh (12) sit down and read the material together.  We then discuss the material, read the verses that are provided, and answer the questions together as a family.   On average, the lessons take us about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Our overall impression of this study has been very high, from all members of the family.  I find that the material is presented in such a way that is very easy to understand and presents ideas and concepts in ways I have never considered previously.  For example, in one of the lessons about Day 1 of Creation, it is presented that God was rebuilding the earth for the habitation of man after it had previously lost the form of it's previous creation due to the fall of Lucifer. This answered a question I had always had in regards to the creation story - why was Satan there in the garden to begin with? 

My husband, who is new in his faith, is also finding that he is finding himself thinking more about what the scriptures say as he we have gone thru the lessons.  The material does not just retell the Bible but instead explains in such a way to really engage the reader and make them think about the material presented.

My kids also get a kick out of the fact the author uses references in his descriptions that they can relate to.  An example of this is in the discussion about day 5 of the creation, the author makes reference to a filet o fish sandwich from McDonalds and chicken strips from Chick-fil-a.  While we don't eat McDonald's, they are familiar with it and Chick-fil-a is one of their favorite fast food restaurants. This really helped them to make a connection between God's creation of the chicken and the chicken sandwich that they occasionally eat.

Overall, we have been really happy with this Bible study.  I feel it has really opened our eyes to the Bible in ways we haven't previously connected with.  While we are only about a third into Volume 1, I'm looking forward to working through all 6 Volumes with the family.

#hsreviews #discipleship #bibleinstruction #biblecurriculum

To find more information about the LIFE Plan, visit The LIFE Network website.  You can also find more information on the following social media platforms:


Select members of the Crew have been using The LIFE Plan with their families in different ways.  Be sure to click the banner below to be taken to their reviews today.

The LIFE Plan - Living Intentionally For Eternity {The LIFE Network Reviews}

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

CTCMath (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Members of the Crew were given a 12 month Family subscription for the online math curriculum CTCMath which includes up to 5 family members.  This allowed for both Ashleigh and Garrett to take advantage of this program.

CTCMath is an online, browser based mathematics curriculum designed for all grade levels, beginning with Kindergarten and progressing thru to higher level high school math, including Trigonometry and calculus.  Lessons can be accessed online via computer, IPAD, Iphones and Android devices.

CTCMath does is not aligned with common core.  Instead, math is taught the traditional way.

Students enrolled are granted full access to the entire CTCMath curriculum. All grade levels and lessons are made part of their subscription.  This allows students who are might struggle with a math skill at a lower level to review and achieve proficiency on that skill while still working at their grade level.  This is also extremely useful when the student is working thru concepts from both Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 during the same year or if  a child is ready to move up to the next grade level mid year, or if the child needs remediation for skills in lower grades when necessary.

The instructor is clear and concise and presents the information in a fairly simplified way.   Students watch a short video lesson that teach the skill. These videos are between 5-10 minutes in length.

Following the lesson, the student is then presented with several questions covering what they have learned in the lesson.  Testing feedback is immediate as the program informs the student if their answer is correct or not as soon as the answer is submitted.  If the answer is incorrect, the correct answer is given.

Once all the questions are completed, the overall score for that lesson is given and a printable copy of the questions along with the child's answers is provided, which can be kept for record keeping.

Parents can select a mandatory passing grade final grade for each portion of the program, or use the programs default passing grade.  If the student does not answer enough questions correctly to achieve the passing grade, the program will not allow the student to progress to the next skill. Instead, the student is to rewatch the lesson and attempt the questions again until the passing grade is achieved.  This ensures proficiency of the skills and avoids the student simply skipping material they don’t thoroughly understand.

For this review, we decided to use CTCMath strictly as a supplement with our primary math curriculum. As the kids covered a skill in their math book, we would turn around and find the same skill on the CTCMath program and have them watch the lessons and do the questions for that section.  Since we had access to all the grade levels, this made finding what we were working on easy, although most lessons followed along the same grade level.

 I really like that the lessons are explained in a way that, for the most part, the kids it it on the first go round (although, in the photo above, you can tell that Ashleigh was struggling with decimals). A few lessons, we had to repeat a few times for them to really get it but that's more to them being easily distracted and not paying attention to the material the first time.

Overall, the program has been a great addition to our homeschool routine.  Having a secondary lesson for math skills to help supplement and reinforce what the kids are learning as well as provide additional practice for mastery has really helped them with their math assignments. I also like the fact that if I so desired, I could drop my other math curriculum and switch completely to CTCMath as a solid mathematics curriculum.

You can find more information on the CTCMath website or you can find them on the following social media sites:


Members of the Crew have been using CTCMath with a wide range of ages and grade levels. Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.

From Kindy to Calculus CTCMath 12-month Family membership {CTCMath Reviews}

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

One week ago, I received a phone call I had hoped I wouldn't receive for a long time.  Niagara County called to inform me that they had been called to do a wellness check on my mother's apartment after she hadn't been seen or spoken to in a number of days. Upon entering the apartment, they found my mother deceased.

While my mother suffered from a number of various health issues, I honestly didn't expect such a sudden and final end to my relationship with my mother :( 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pitsco Education (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Garrett loves anything that involves hands on learning. Creating things that move or interact from scratch is how he spends most of his free time and we're always on the lookout for something new and interesting to help grow his technical knowledge. 

When we were offered our choice of STEM kits from Pitsco Education we had a hard time narrowing down our choice to only one product to review. Eventually, we decided upon the Arduino Education Student Kit.



The Arduino Education kit is designed to give children ages 11+ an introduction in integrated elections.  Using the provided materials as well as software and instruction included with the kit through their website, students learn about basic circuitry and coding in a step by step manner.

The kit includes tons of jump wires, diodes, and resistors as well as a breadboard, voltage meter, and the Arduino UNO Rev 3 open-source microcontroller board. Used in conjunction with the nine step by step lessons, students are given more than 25 hours of course materials starting with creating basic circuits and progressing on to writing code and coding concepts, using servo motors, producing sounds, tons and music, measuring the intensity of light from light emitting diodes and more. 

No prior coding or electronics experience is needed. Students are able to jump right in after learning the history of electronics, basic definitions and concepts about circuitry and electronics and about how to  safety work with electronics.

The kit is completely reusable and includes the following components:


Everything comes neatly packed in a closable storage container to help keep everything together and for easy storage.   All smart parts are also enclosed in a separate storage container.  Everything needed for the projects are included, with the exception of a computer with a USB port for the Arduino UNO Rev 3 Microcontroller to communicate with the programming software necessary for coding lessons.



Garrett has really been enjoying learning about electronics with this kit.  Using the website and access code that was included in the kit, we were able to set up an account in order to access the lessons and resources needed to start the program.  The website also included a downloadable/printable workbook that includes projects and questions to be completed after the completion of the lessons online.






To say that Garrett has been having a blast with this kit would be an understatement.  For Garrett to actually ask to do activities one his school day doesn't typically happen. However, as this hands on STEM kit appeals to his preferred method of learning, he constantly asks to do lessons.  However, I have limited him to one lesson a week and then he can review and redo that lesson until he has a firm understanding of the material.

This has actually worked really well for us considering that the lessons online are rather lengthy.  This means Garrett tends to skim over things and instead just tries to do the project itself.  By making him repeat the lessons and only complete one lesson each week, he's presented the material multiple times and tends to pick up more of what he is learning.

We have been really pleased with the kit and think it's a perfect choice for those looking for hands on STEM related learning.  And Pitsco Education would like for readers a chance to get this wonderful kit for free. You can enter their giveaway at

To learn more about the Arduino Education Student Kit or the many other STEM based products offered by Pitsco Education, be sure to visit the Pitsco Education website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:


Members of the Review Crew were offered their choice of 7 different STEM products to use with their families. Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.

STEM At Your Fingertips - Elementary, Middle & High School STEM Kits {Pitsco Education Reviews}

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Progeny Press (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My family love to go camping.  Something about being out in nature, sleeping in a tent far away from everyone else makes us all happy.  However, we unfortunately had to skip our yearly camping trip this year because with the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our campgrounds here in California are closed.  However, for the last few weeks, we have been using the Progeny Press  My Side of the Mountain Study Guide , a study guide written for grades 5-8th, as we read the book written by Jean Craighead George and have been enjoying the story of survival and nature.

About Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a publishing company who offers E-guides for literature with a Christian perspective. Offering guides for reading levels from early elementary through high school, each of the Progeny Press guides are designed to help students to better understand the story they are reading as well as to recognize the themes presented by the author.

However, what makes Progeny Press different from other literature study guides is that Progeny Press uses Biblical teachings, backed with scripture, to tie the story into practical lessons. While many books contain content or beliefs that do not align with Christian beliefs, Progeny Press guides direct students to instead study what God says about such things so they will be better prepared and strong in their faith when they face such behavior, language, and philosophy in life.

Progeny Press literature guides break the assigned book into weekly reading assignments. Students read the assigned chapters and then they complete different activities that correlate with what they have read.  These activities fall into four categories to help expand the student's knowledge about what they have read.

First, vocabulary activities help to introduce words that might be unfamiliar to the student in ways that help with retention.

Second, reading comprehension questions are used to be sure the student is understanding what they are reading.  These are both direct questions that can be answered straight from the reading as well as questions that require the student to think about what they read and determine why a character might have done an action, thought the way they did, or what they might do in the future.

Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Questions

Next, literary techniques that are used by the author are introduced with activities that help the student understand concepts such as alliteration, metaphors, conflict, compare and contrast, mood and coming of age.

Learning about Literary Techniques such as Forshadowing and Similes.

Character Values and Moral Lesson help the student recognize traits that either honor God or that conflict with Christian beliefs or living, such as acceptance, honoring parents, lying,  patience, and dealing with fear.  Students are given Biblical references that correlate with the values being taught to solidify what God says and how they relate to the situation the characters in the book find themselves in.

Tying Biblical Teaching into the Story

Finally, suggested activities and writing assignments are offered to expand that help to expand on the book.  These included field trip suggestions, plant research, creative writing assignments, discussions about safety, research topics, and science connections that can be used to tie in with the book.  Additional reading selections that can tie in or are similar to the novel being read are also suggested.

How We Used Our Literature Guide

For this review, we were given the digital e-book version of the interactive literature guide as well as the digital answer key that corresponds with the guide. Written by Carole Clark, the Interactive Guide is a 63 page PDF file that can either be printed out for the student or it can be used on a computer.  The guide is formatted in such a way that the student has the ability to type answers and use drop down selections to answer the material and then print the pages.  This makes for a great option if you have a student who either dislikes writing or just prefers typing over using a pen/pencil.

Editable Boxes allow for using the Guide on the computer.

For this review, we decided to print the guide for both children.  Purchase of the digital guide allows for the teacher/parent to print off multiple copies of the guide to use in their classroom.  As the guide is 63 pages in length and broken into 8 sections plus an overview, I found it easier to print off the first half of the guide for the kids to use the first 4 weeks and then print out the second half of the guide for weeks 5-9.

Incorporating the literature guide into our daily work was easy.  The kids and I would read the required chapters on Monday, then spend the rest of the week working on the activities and questions that go with the reading.

This worked really well for us, as we could easily read the three to four chapters required within our reading period on Monday, then work on the vocabulary exercises on Tuesday, the comprehension questions on Wednesday, literary techniques on Thursday, and finally the character values and moral lesson section on Friday.  When possible, we also included a few of the optional activities such as a discussion about how to handle situations and people that make them uncomfortable, eating strawberries dipped in sugar together and researching nesting habits of the Peregrine falcons. 

As a homeschooling parent, I really enjoy using the Progeny Press study guides with the kids. They really help the children to understand the literature they are reading and dig deeper than just reading the story. I also really appreciate the Christian perspective the guides use that help to really tie Christian teaching into the study, because it gives my kids the opportunity to see how scripture teaching can be used in a real world setting.

For more information about Progeny Press and the large selection of study guides for literature that they offer, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find more information by visiting the company's social media sites:

Members of the Crew were offered their choice of five literature guides for grades K-12.    Be sure to click the banner below to see their reviews today.

Study Guides for Literature - A New Coat for Anna, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, My Side of the Mountain, Animal Farm & Little Women {Progeny Press Reviews}

Friday, July 3, 2020

Mail Call

Another mail call for the week. This is for the upcoming review of The LIFE Plan from The LIFE Network (website not currently up and running but will be up soon). The LIFE Plan is a Bible curriculum which can be used for homeschoolers as a 12-year resource if used in this way.  Each volume can be a one-year Bible course by completing only one lesson per week during the school year.  This will give the student time to read the lesson more than once and to search the study helps included in the lesson

You can expect to see the review for the LIFE Plan here on my blog on July 30th.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Mail Call

I'm late posting this, but wanted to share with everyone this upcoming review.  The kids started using the full deluxe curriculum 3rd - 8th Grade - Exploring Countries and Cultures from My Father's World.   They were super excited when a 48 pound box of goodies was delivered by UPS last week.  They even included doubles of the consumables so both kids could use the program together.

 Check out all that was included and expect a review to publish on August 4th :)

Newton believes the box was sent just for him ;)


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