Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Practice Monkeys (A Homeschool Crew Review)

  DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


Sadly, this is my last official review as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew but if there was any  review to go out on, this would be it.  This is a product that we have really enjoyed with our kids.  For the last few months, we have been doing music instruction in our home with Practice Monkeys, an online music instruction program that offers violin, piano, cello, guitar and even offers a self defense course. 


About Practice Monkeys

Practice Monkeys is a browser based source for all ages to learn how to play musical instruments as well as an available self defense course.  Using the Suzuki method of learning, the website is the work of veteran violin teacher Mrs Van Kleeck,. The website offers both Live group classes as well as recorded lessons that help students master their instrument and subscriptions allow students access to both live and recorded classes each week.

 Classes offered are:

  • Violin Classes through Book 7 Suzuki
  • Piano Classes through Book 3 Suzuki (Books 4–7 are in development)
  • Guitar through Suzuki Book 2 (Books 3–7 are in development)
  • Cello through Suzuki Book 3 (Books 4–7 are in development) 
  • Self Defense (Not Suzuki based)

The live classes are streamed four times each week in early afternoons while the recorded classes are available from the website 24/7 and can be accessed at the students convenience.

The website is well organized and easy to navigate.  After enrolling and being granted access to the appropriate level lessons for your student, parents will find a treasure trove of information, mostly in the form of very concise videos, such as how to tune the instrument before each practice, demonstrations of the skills the student will be working on, how the parents can help the student throughout the process and how often the student will need to work with the instrument.  Along with these videos, the weeks four previously recorded lessons are also accessible as well as PDF downloads for practice sheets and skills checkoff lists for the level your student is working at.


The subscription price is considered a family price and you pay for the instrument rather than the student.  This means that if you have two students who both on the violin, you would only pay the one price for both students.  Also, Assessments for progression to the next level is a separate purchase and would be per student.

Live classes allow your child to interact in real time with their instructor. By using the computers camera and microphone, the instructor is able to see and listen to the students during the class time and make suggestions, corrections or praise the student during their class time.

Our Experience

For this review, we enrolled Garrett in the violin course and Ashleigh was enrolled in Piano.  



The first step of their journey was a one on one assessment with Mrs Van Kleeck.  This assessment was simple to schedule thru the website and allowed for both kids to interact with Mrs Van Kleeck and allow her to see where they stood with as far as experience and knowledge of their instruments.  The assessment was on a Saturday morning and took roughly 15 minutes per child. I found this assessment to be a great starting point for the kids as it allowed them to also understand what to expect out of the classes.  Mrs Van Kleeck did a great job explaining to the kids what the kids would be expected to learn for each level they would be working at.  At the conclusion of the assessment, Garrett was placed in Violin 3 while Ashleigh was placed in Violin 1. (Note: Ashleigh was offered the opportunity to be placed in Piano 2, but she chose to be placed in the lower class). 

Once the kids had each been placed in their levels, we were able to access the "Treehouse" for those classes.  The Treehouse has all the information for the course available for the student and parent.  There were instructional videos that introduced the kids to the different music pieces that they would be working on which really helped them to understand the various techniques these pieces used.  These videos were especially useful when it came to Garrett, who could quickly pick up a piece of music but didn't necessarily play it using the technique.  Having access to these videos allowed for us to go back after Garrett had a good understanding of the notes for the piece and then focus on the technique he needed to be using.   The Treehouse also contained a checklist of what skills they would need to master in order to know when they would need a new assessment to progress to the next level, as well as the schedule for live classes and links for previously recorded classes.  


That Monday, we were ready for live classes.  These classes are conducted via Zoom, last roughly 15 minutes each, and included all students from that level who logged in that day.  Students are expected to attend either a live class or view a previously recorded class, and then practice on their own for another 15 minutes on their own after the class.  During the live classes, the students receive instruction from the instructors as well as feedback on what they can do to improve.  For example - Garrett has a habit of not keeping his wrist straight while playing.  There were a few times during class that the instructor would bring this to his attention for him to correct it.  Below is a video of Garrett during class time being asked to play a piece for the class, where he is helped with an issue he was having as well as being given instruction by Mrs Van Kleeck. (Wide view for the privacy of other children in the class)


Both kids jumped into live classes enthusiastically and both found the classes enjoyable.  However, Ashleigh quickly lost interest and getting her to do classes proved to be stressful.   Garrett however, quickly picked up his instrument and jumped in both feet. 


For the majority of his time, Garrett attended live classes, occasionally if his other lessons ran late he would view a pre recorded class. These classes were taught by either Mrs Van Kleeck or another instructor, Mrs Deb Peterson.  Between the classes, the videos available on the treehouse and his practicing outside of class, he quickly picked up the music that he was expected to learn for Level 3.  After a month of classes, Garrett was told by Mrs Van Kleeck that she believed he was ready for an assessment to see if he was ready to progress to Level 4.  Scheduling this assessment was much the same process as scheduling the original placement assessment. 

For this assessment, Garrett met one on one with Mrs Van Kleeck.  He was asked to play 4 pieces of music that he had been working on, showing the proper techniques that were in the videos and taught in the classes.  Again, we found Mrs Van Kleeck very kind, friendly and encouraging and Garrett got thru his assessment no problem, which took about 15 minutes.  Mrs Van Kleeck said he was ready for Level 4 Violin and then took another 10 minutes or so showing him the music he would be learning as well as displaying a more advanced way of holding the bow and a few new techniques that he would be focusing on during Level 4, such as lifting his bow and circling it around to play a different note.  After the assessment was completed, his Dashboard in his Treehouse showed that he was now Level 4, giving him access to the videos for that Level, much the same as when he was in Level 3. 

Garrett during his Assessment with Mrs Van Kleeck

Level 4 has begun teaching things such as music theory to prepare the students to begin reading music.  So in addition to learning the pieces that are required for the level, he has also had to begin memorizing which notes are on each scale played per string, ect.  For example - the G Major scale on his first string consists of 8 notes - G A B C D and F#  while the A Major Scale is A B C# D E F# and G#.  His responsibility for this level is to memorize each of the 4 Major Scales and begin putting those together with what he is playing, so as he plays each note of the scale, he has been saying what that note's name is as he plays it, as well as working on the music pieces he has to learn for the level. 


Overall, Practice Monkeys has been a wonderful experience for Garrett. We found both Mrs Van Kleeck and Mrs Peterson to be wonderful instructors and Garrett's definitely done well under both of their instructions.  I honestly wish Ashleigh would have put more effort into piano and she did say she found the instructor (I did not catch his name but he was really good!!) fun and she enjoyed the class, she just didn't have interest in piano, and I didn't force it.  However, I am very pleased with Garrett's progress and I look forward to seeing how far he will progress using the classes.   I also found it interesting that during the course of this review, we met a young lady who played the guitar. After finding out that Garrett was learning violin, she offered Garrett the opportunity to strap the guitar on and play around with it.  So, who knows, since Practice Monkeys offers guitar classes, maybe that is also in our future ;) 

On a final note - Instrument classes can be expensive.  On our previous base, violin instruction was 60 for a half hour of instruction and I find that tends to be a pretty average price.  Even meeting with an instructor once a week for 30 minutes 4 times a month, that is $240 a month, more if you opt to have instruction more than 1 time a week.  Practice Monkeys offers their classes for $49/month and again, if you have two or more students playing the same instrument, that $49/month covers all.  For that price, you get 1 full hour of instruction per week (4 fifteen minute sessions on M-Thur) for the entire month, making it very cost effective. Not to mention that the recorded classes they can access for even more instruction.   Because Garrett has done so well with the classes, we will gladly be paying out of pocket for the monthly tuition so he can continue because even on a single income military budget,  the price point is within our budget and we recognize the value we are getting. 

We highly recommend Practice Monkeys and suggest that if you're interested, take advantage of the ability to try their course for free (yes, Free!!) to see if it will work for your family.  Info on how to do this can be found in the FAQ on the Practice Monkeys website.


Connect with Practice Monkeys on
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 Members of the Crew have been using Practice Monkeys in their home to learn Violin, Piano, Cello, Guitar and Self Defense in their homes.  Click the banner below to read their reviews today. 

Online Lessons for Children: Violin, Piano, Cello, Guitar, and Self Defense

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Giving Manger (A Homeschool Crew Review)

  DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


Each year, when the holiday season rolls around, it tends to be that the meaning of Christmas is often lost in all the Black Friday sales, Christmas lights and presents under the tree. The secular takes over, and the birth of our Savior and the amazing gift he gave to us when he gave his life is more times than not, forgotten.  More often than not, the focus becomes about what we will receive rather than what we can give to others. 

For this holiday season, we are trying to change that in our household using The Giving Manger from WorthyKids. Disguised as a simplistic holiday decoration to place in your home, The Giving Manger is actually a great tool to be used to help your family focus on acts of giving. 

The Giving Manger was packaged very nicely in a presentation box that included a hardcover picture book, a three piece wooden manger that was easy to assemble, a infant figuring to represent the baby Jesus, and a bundle of straw. 

The concept behind the set is that the family gets together and reads the storybook written by Allison Hottinger and photographed cut paper illustrations by Emily King.  The book explains the idea behind the Giving Manger and helps to drive interest and enthusiasm for it.  The book focuses on the words of Matthew 25:40 and tells the story about two siblings, Ann and Ben, who are informed that the parents have decided rather than purchase gifts for the children for the holidays, they have instead decided to focus on giving and serving others with a grateful heart.  The children of course are not very grateful to hear this news, but as the story progresses, they find that there's a completely type of gift to be had by serving others. 

After reading the book as a family, for the holiday season, family members work on acts of giving.  As these acts are done, a piece of straw is added to the manger, in the hopes that by the end of the holiday season, the manger is filled with straw to cushion the baby Jesus before he is placed in the manger on Christmas.  The book provides ideas for age appropriate ideas for how different age groups can find ways to serve others, such as for children, for teens, and ideas to do as a family unit.

  The book also provides a journaling section entitled "Manger Memories" where families can write down particularly memorable acts of service that they would like to remember in years to come. 

While our family has not begun adding straw to the manger, as we are saving that to do during the Advent season, we are really looking forward to making this a focus for our family during the holiday.  Christ teaches us that we should take care of "the least of these", and I admit that over the years, our family have become more focused on the consumer aspect of Christmas and had really neglected how we can serve others in our community.  I think The Giving Manger will be a great tool to help our family focus on doing things for others. 

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Many members of the Review Crew have received The Giving Manger. Click the banner below to read their reviews today.

Start a New Christmas Advent Tradition with The Giving Manger

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Progeny Press (A Homeschool Crew Review)

 DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


One review we always look forward to is the literary study guides from Progeny Press because they always help the kids think more about the stories they are reading.  For the last few weeks, the kids have been reading Redwall  and using the Redwall Study Guide to dive deeper into the story. 

For this review, we were given two study guides - the Redwall Study Guide as well as the Cricket in Times Square Study Guide.  While we have only had the time to go in depth using the Redwall guide, both of these guides follow the same format and we look forward to using the Cricket in Times Square study guide once we are finished with the first study.

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.  These questions can be matching the word with a definition as well as asking the students to use the word in a sentence of their own choosing.
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. These questions also include asking students to paraphrase quotes from the story as well.

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. 
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.  
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 The Literature Guide

For this review, we were given the digital e-book versions of the interactive literature guide as well as the digital answer key that corresponds with the guide for both books.  For the review period, we opted to use the Redwall Study Guide.   The guide for Redwall is written by Janice and Robert DeLong. This  interactive guide is a 75 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, which was extremely convenient for us as Garrett prefers this method.  This makes for a great option if you have a student who either dislikes writing or just prefers typing over using a pen/pencil. 

Much like the Redwall Study Guide, the Cricket in Time Square study guide is also a PDF file that can be printed out or used on the computer. This guide is 52 pages in length and is written by Andrew Clausen.  This guide also focuses on the same format as the Redwall study, but includes activities that include opera music, cooking Chinese food and using chopsticks to eat it. 

Incorporating the literature guide into our daily work was easy.  The kids and I would read the required chapters on Monday and Tuesday, 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 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.  
Progeny Press Literature Study Guides

Wordless Wednesday

The other day, my husband came across a story in regards to post mortem photography.   He was reading the story when suddenly he is freaking out.. Why?  Because in one of the examples of the photography, the deceased girl looks exactly like our youngest daughter. 


Sunday, October 24, 2021

DND Campaign


We would like to invite you to take a journey thru the unknown with us. We cannot guarantee you will make it out alive as there are vampires, warewolves, witches and more along the way.  Honestly, we cannot guarantee much of anything but what we will try to do is entertain you and if you're new to the world of Dungeons and Dragons 5e, hopefully we can inspire you to create your own character and start your own campaign into the mists of Barovia.  Our adventure, Royally Screwed, is scheduled to begin in early October and we expect that it will run for at least a year and a half. This blog will serve as a digital adventure log for our sessions for others to follow along, as well as for our players to be able to look back on our campaign in the future.  We are also currently discussing a possible podcast to accompany this blog.

We are the Prince family (hence the Royal reference for the name of this blog). We are your average run of the mill military family throughout the week. But for a few hours every weekend, we are a brave band of heroes who enjoy delving into the dark recesses of caves and dungeons, fighting mobs of goblins, bugbears and orcs as we make our way across the Forgotten Realms.  Our marry band of explorers will be swept away to the far away land of Barovia in October as we begin the horror that is Curse of Strahd

This campaign will be using elements from The Curse of Strahd: Reloaded developed by DragnaCarta (DM of Curse of Strahd: Twice Bitten), Fleshing Out Curse of Strahd by MandyMod, as well as some homebrewed ideas from yours truly.  We offer a warning for those who are sensitive to more adult topics - Curse of Strahd is a gothic horror campaign which contains themes and topics that can be a bit more dark and disturbing in nature.  Without giving away spoilers in case my players come here hoping to get insight to the campaign, some of these topics include drug use/addiction, child neglect/abuse/murder, torture, and animal cruelty , just to name a few.  Two of our players will be teenagers who are mature enough to handle most of the topics found in the campaign, but because of their ages, some topics found in Strahd will either be glossed over or left out entirely (such as racism, sexism, and sexual assault). However, be aware that if these types of topics are triggers for you, proceed cautiously.

If you would like to follow our adventures into the DnD realm, we invite you to follow along at our sister blog.  You can find it by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

LightSail (A Homeschool Crew Review)

 DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


For the last few weeks, we have been using the LightSail for Homeschoolers Premium Subscription with Ashleigh to help improve her reading ability.

LightSail offers instruction to help strengthen reading, writing, vocabulary, and fluency for grades preschool through high school.  The program is Lexile driven, meaning that it uses the Lexile scale to match books and vocabulary to math the child's current reading level and then provides activities that help to raise their level as they read books and answer questions. 


 What Is LightSail for Homeschoolers

LightSail is an online program that focuses on reading, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.  Students are either assigned books (by the parent) or if the parent opts, can be given access to the full library of available books in the LightSail library.  There are over 12,000 books available with the LightSail Premium subscription (LightSail Standard library contains half that amount) that cover a wide variety of subjects such as science, history, non fiction, fiction and more. Books in Spanish are also available for ESL learners (or could also be used for students who are learning Spanish and looking for extra practice). These library texts range from grades K-12 and cover a wide range of Lexile measures. Audiobooks are also available for many selections that give students who are struggling with reading an option to listen to the story while reading and following alone with the book.

These texts are embedded with assessments and cover a variety of subject matter. Once a book is selected, it is uploaded to the students account so they can begin reading it.  As the student reads the book, different questions are presented. These questions can be comprehensive, asking about something going on in the story, or they can ask about what the author is trying to get across to the reader.  Other activities might ask the student to fill in a missing word that has been omitted from the sentence.   If the student answers the question wrong, the answer they selected turns red and the correct answer is colored green for them to review. These activities are designed to improve comprehension, recognize main points of the story, and help build and improve vocabulary while the student reads. As student ability grows, LightSail tracks achievement and updates the selections in each reader’s library – that way, students are always reading just right texts.

Another portion of the LightSail program includes writing.  Some books have writing assignments that are attached with them as part of the LightSail for Homeschoolers.  While we have not used the writing sections of the program yet, books with available writing assignments are noted in the library so that parents can know if these types of activities are available for the book they are selecting.  Parents can also go to the writing section of the Dashboard and find writing activities in that section, such as writing book reports and taking notes.

LightSail for Homeschoolers offers different subscription tiers, including those only for World Books as well as the Premium Subscription and the Standard Subscription for the LightSail program. Focusing on these last two subscription packages, both packages provide access to more than 20K educational videos, 150+ unit studies, and 13K audiobook options.  However, the Premium subscription offers more than 12K books vs 6K in the standard tier, and also offers 51K+ encyclopedia articles, 10K biographies, enhanced 360* photographs, World Book timelines, World Book Maps and Atlas, World Book Behind the Headlines articles, access to quotations, and probably most importantly, support for ADHD/Dyslexia reading support for those with reading disabilities.

How We Used It

Originally, we were going to use LightSail with both Ashleigh and Garrett.  However, with our current reading lessons, I am requiring the kids to read a novel independently for their classwork.  This is the first time Garrett has been required to read a novel on his own as well as test weekly over what he's reading, so to avoid overwhelming him, I opted to only have Ashleigh use LightSail for this review period.  We did set Garrett up with an account that we will use once he's completed his current novel.

 Before Ashleigh began actually working with the program, she had to take an assessment first.  This was a test that took her about 20-30 minutes where reading comprehension and her vocabulary skills were evaluated.  Completion of this assessment gave us a Lexile score based on her performance.  The program also gave me a scale to allow me to see where she was in comparison to grade level.  She actually did well and was within the scale for her current grade level. 

After she took her test, I added a few books that I thought she would enjoy in her library and then bookmarked the site for her to use on her tablet.  We had no problem using the program on her tablet (albiet, the tablet loaded things a bit slower than my computer did, but that is due to her tablet, not the program) which I was glad because while initially we could use our regular Firefox browser to access the program, later it said we could only use the Chrome browser to use it. This wasn't an issue on her tablet.

She was a bit upset that a few of the options required her to read a "Power Text" first, meaning she had to read something she wasn't as interested in reading before she could read (or request to read - as I had parental approval turned on) things she was more interested in.  

One lil "hickup" we had (totally my fault) was that I had logged in Ashleigh on her tablet under my sign in.  This meant that she was given full access to all the books without my approval but it also meant that when she read and completed activities, it wasn't tracked and graded under her account.  When I logged in to look at her scores, it simply said she hadn't read anything. She didn't notice my name up at the top instead of her own, and I didn't think to check because she was on her tablet. 

However, what reading she did do, she really enjoyed.  She discovered Edgar Allen Poe as there are a few selections on Lightsail and she really enjoyed his short stories.  Actually, that's an understatement, as she proceeded to ask us if she could get a book of his works so she could read more than what was available.

Overall, I like the selections available, especially the selections available in the classics area. There's also a large selection of historic non fiction, such as a whole section of faith based writings.  However, there was some content that I personally would not want my kids to read.  One audio book selection that we decided on had a character referring to another as an "idiot" and there's also a selection of books with LGBT themes which I wouldn't feel comfortable with my kids reading.  However, the variety available makes it so that even the pickiest of readers should be able to find something that will interest them and the fact that the program allows for parental approval before the child reads a particular book is helpful to weed out those that a parent might not find acceptable. 



 For more information about LightSail for Homeschoolers, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites


Members of the Crew have been using LightSail for Homeschoolers with their families in various ways.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today. 

Improve Reading Skills with LightSail for Homeschoolers

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Bible Breakdowns (A Homeschool Crew Review)

DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


Sometimes, understanding the main points of the Bible can be challenging, I'm always looking for ways to make our Bible study time easier, especially for the kids. So when I was given the opportunity to review Bible Breakdowns from Teach Sunday School, I was pretty interested to see how I could incorporate this resource into our own Bible study each day. 


For this review, we were given a the digital PDF copies for both the Old Testament and New Testament, with one PDF file for each.  Each book of the Bible has it's own corresponding page that is easy to print out and keep as a reference sheet for that book.  The only exception to the one page rule is for the book of Matthew, which has two pages.  These pages are easy to print out and the purchase license allows for the buyer to print as many times as needed for personal, family, or single church/school use.  (License for multiple schools or churches can be purchased separately.)

 Each page breaks down the books of the Bible in the same format, making it a quick reference to keep on hand. The header of the page states the Book in large font.  Beside the name of the book is a number and either NT or OT, indicating the order in which that book can be found and whether it's in the Old Testament or New Testament. 

 After the header is a short synopsis of the book itself with interesting bits of information about the book.  For example, for the book of 1 Corinthians, it tells that Paul had heard that there was fighting among the church in Corinth after he had left and that his epistle to them starts by offering advice as to the various problems that he has heard and moves to helping them understand doctrines. It also lets you know that he ends the letter by preaching the gospel and giving words of encouragement.

Following the synopsis, there is graphic to help bring your attention quickly to a few facts regarding the book.  These graphics give general information, such as how many chapters are in the book, what type of book it is (history, law, prophecy, gospel, epistle, ect), a rough time span of when the book was written and what period of time it covers, and who the author of the book is believed to be. 

The final section of each page breaks down the book by chapter and verse with a thematic listing that focuses on what those verses are about. A checkbox is provided beside each section, allowing the user to easily use the Bible Breakdown as a Bible Study/Reading Plan and keep track of what they have read thus far.  The breakdown also makes use of a color coded system that highlights classic Bible stories such as the Christmas story in Matthew, the Crucifixion and Resurrection in all four Gospels, the plagues of Egypt in Exodus, Daniel in the Lion's Den in Daniel, ect.  A final section included contains "Most Popular Verses" from each book, including a ranking that shows the popularity of that verse in comparison of both the book itself as well as compared to the rest of the Bible. 

This format is used for all 66 books found in the standard Protestant Bible.  For my Catholic readers, please note that the 7 addition Deuterocanon books found in the Catholic Bible are not included in the Bible Breakdowns.

 Using Bible Breakdowns

Looking over Bible Breakdown simplistic design, there are endless ways that these can easily be incorporated into your daily Bible time, family study time, or even for a Sunday school class or Bible study.  

For this review, we used them two different ways.  First, the kids have been studying the Book of James with their morning Bible study for their homeschool curriculum, so I was able to simply print out the Breakdown for James, punch holes in the page, and the kids were able to keep this sheet at the beginning of their Bible section of their daily notebooks.  For our first 6 weeks of school, we focused on James 1, Verses 1-12.  The Bible Breakdown sheet informed them that the main focus of this particular section was about Testing Your Faith. 

The second way I personally used the Bible Breakdown was with my own women's Bible Studies.  Currently, I am involved in two studies, one focused on the Book of 2nd Timothy and a second study that doesn't focus on a particular book in itself but jumps around to various parts of scripture.  This allowed for me to use the Bible Breakdowns two significantly different ways. For the 2nd Timothy study, which follows the book verse by verse, I was able to print out the sheet and simply tuck it in the study workbook that we are currently using and use it as reference to help me focus on main topics of the verses as well as to use the "Most Popular Verses" as a reference for two verses to memorize. 

For the second Bible study, I found that downloading the Bible Breakdowns to my tablet worked best, since I couldn't know ahead of time which book we would be reading from each week. By downloading the files, I could simply open the file on my tablet once we began reading, have it opened beside my Bible, and use it as a quick reference for our reading. 

The only issue I've had with the sheets is that when printing in grey scale on a monotone printer, such as the laser printer I use, is that the blue text indicating classic Bible stories is indistinguishable from the rest of the text.  This isn't a problem with the sheets themselves, but is a slight limitation for those printing them out in grey scale and would like having that additional reference available to them.  When printed in color, the blue text would be apparent and when viewing on my tablet, again, this text is apparent. 


#hsreviews #biblebreakdowns #biblestudytools #bibleeducation #readingthebible #biblestudyguide #bibleprintable

To find more information about Bible Breakdowns, as well as the vast line of other Bible study products offered by Teach Sunday School, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find more information about Teach Sunday School on these social media platforms. 

Facebook - Instagram  - YouTube - Pinterest


These Bible Breakdowns sheets are a great addition for quick reference for any Bible story and can be used in so many ways.  Be sure to click the banner below to read reviews as to how other members of the crew found useful ways to incorporate them in their own homes.

Boob-by-Book Bible Study Printable Breakdowns

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Critical Thinking Company (A Homeschool Crew Review)

DISCLAIMER:  I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


 For the last few weeks, the kids have been expanding their vocabulary using Vocabulary Virtuoso: Mastering Middle School Vocabulary from The Critical Thinking Co.™ . This digital vocabulary workbook for middle school students helps to increase vocabulary, stimulates imagination, and boosts standards-based language arts skills and teaches 180 PSAT vocabulary words.

Vocabulary Virtuoso is a middle school level vocabulary curriculum that includes 15 weeks of activities that help to expand students vocabulary.  This curriculum is a 164 page, printable PDF file that includes activities such as identifying words, using them correctly in given sentences, and having students write their own sentences using the words each week. Each lesson contains definitions, pronunciation keys, parts of speech, and alternate choices for each word made up of synonyms, idioms, and/or phrases.

Each week, students are given a list of 12 words that would not typically be used in everyday conversation.  Following the vocabulary list, there are 6 activities that follow that use these words to be used throughout the week.  These activities start pretty simple and work their way up to show better understanding of the words given. 


For the first activity, students are given sentences along with three word options in which they choose the correct word to use. Students simply select the correct word that works for the sentence and then circle their answer. 

Each activity becomes a bit more difficult and requires the student to begin to not only recognize the word but also learn to add case endings to the words.  For the second exercise, students are given a word bank with the words (some of them with ending such as -ed or -ing) in which they have to identify the correct word to complete the sentence. 

The third exercise requires the student to fill words in to complete a story. Again, a list is given at the top of the page, and students must identify the correct word to use for the story. 

The next exercise has the student reading a sentence and then unscrambling the letters to form the correct word to complete the sentence.  No word bank is given for the words this time and students must use comprehension to identify the word. 

The sixth activity asked the student to look at the word and identify an idiom or phrase that defines the word, however, these do not echo the definitions found at the original list of words.  This requires the student to think about what the idiom/definition might mean and then translate that to the original definition of the word. 

The final activity asks students to write their own sentences for the words, using their own words and not copying sentences from the previous activities.

How We Used It

We have really enjoyed adding this vocabulary exercise to our daily language arts time.  I simply load the PDF file up onto my computer each week and print out the weekly activities for the kids. (License for this product allows for parents to print as many copies as are necessary for their own private use). Each morning, we complete one activity from the packet (with two activities being completed on Friday). 

Ashleigh and Garrett completing their daily vocabulary exercise

The kids have really seemed to enjoy these activities and have had a good time learning new words such as "Legerdemain", "Spelunker" and "Juggernaut".  I have also noticed that they have been using their new words in various conversations which has been extremely impressive.  


For example, one of our words one week was "egregious" and Ashleigh later that week mentioned that running out of cereal was the most egregious of crimes. I've also heard words such as "heinous", "serendipitous" and "mundane" used lately, all words that have come from the vocabulary lists. 

Even Licky likes this curriculum

Another thing we found was that we found explore rabbit holes in regards to some of the sentences that we have completed.  One particular lesson, using the word "legerdemain" involved David Copperfield, the magician who was extremely popular in the 80s and early 90s.  This led us to watching some Youtube videos of him performing magic tricks such as making both the Statue of Liberty and a small leer jet disappear, which the kids thought was pretty cool.  They then took time out to research on their own how he performed these tricks which led to a really great understanding of what "legerdemain" actually means. 

Overall, we've been very happy with this vocabulary curriculum and the kids have responded well to it.  Just hearing them use the new words that they are learning in conversation lets me know that they are paying attention and are expanding their vocabulary each week with these new list of words.

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