Friday, August 27, 2021

The Weekly Wrapup - Week 1

 It's the start of another school year.. New house, new grade.. but nothing else has really changed to be honest.


  They still wear the same clothes each day until I tell them they gotta go change, Garrett still hates writing..  Ashleigh still hates math.. and there's still a bunny trying to get attention during class time.  Go figure!!

When we moved into this new house (actually, even before - when I saw the inside pictures while we were in the process of accepting the house), I was pretty thrilled about having the island in the dining room.  I pictured it as the perfect place for them to sit and do their classwork..  Yeah, that didn't happen.  Instead, they like to sit on the plush rug on the floor to do most of their work, with the exception of the work they have to do on the computer, like their math assignments. 

Examining a crosscut sample of a plant stem of a vascular plant

For their 8th grade year, our class work will be:

English:  IEW Fix it Grammar (Robin Hood followed by Frog Prince, or Just Deserts), IEW Poetry Memorization, IEW Following Narnia Vol 1: The Lions Song (writing lessons in Structure and Style), and The Critical Thinking Company - Vocabulary Virtuoso

Math:  Teaching Textbooks as well as various math assignments from books from Math Essentials

History:  US History using My Father's World Exploration to 1850

Science:  Apologia Botany and Young Scientist Biology from Greg Landry's Homeschool Science

Extras :  Memoria Press Latina Christiana, Bible Study, and music lessons (Garrett: Violin and Ashleigh: Piano)

Garrett working on a lesson from Greg Landry's Homeschool Science

Our first week went pretty well, or as well as to be expected, considering they had most of the summer off. Ashleigh has been fighting with her allergies this week - we have had tons of rain (it's rained just about every day since we moved here - and it's a desert!!!) and that's caused a lot of plants to really go overboard with their pollen production.  For the first few days, she was completely miserable but we got her a refill on her allergy medication and she's been good to go the rest of the week.  Garrett wasn't to thrilled to hear that he would be doing more writing this year, but as we ease him into things, I think he'll be okay.

Ashleigh dealing with her allergies for the first week of school

For their first week, they have been learning about early explorers of the New World - Leif Erikson, Christopher Columbus, and John Cabbot as well as the counties involved in their exploration.   For English, they had to write their first paper - a short paragraph about Sherlock Holmes, while in Science, they had a review about taxonomy and binomial nomenclature, then learned the difference between vascular and non vascular plants and angiosperms vs gymnosperms.  We spent this week reviewing their previous Latin knowledge that they had studied before the summer just as a refresher before we start adding new material.  We will start actual lessons for Latin next week. 

Both kids began lessons with Practice Monkeys (review will be coming soon) for their instruments this week.  For this week, we just used pre-recorded lessons but they both have an assessment with the instructor tomorrow to make sure they are placed in the proper class for their live lessons.  Both are needing to pick out a "fun song" to work on while they are working on their lesson material.  Ashleigh hasn't picked anything out but Garrett finally decided on the song "Nothing Else Matters".. Probably a bit more advanced then what was necessary, but that's what he wanted, so have at it kid.. lol 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

It's NOT Greek To Me! (A Homeschool Crew Review)

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

My son really enjoys learning the Greek language. I'm not sure if it's the "funny looking letters" that the language uses or just the way it sounds, but he really has an interest in Greek.  So when I was given the opportunity to review It's NOT Greek to Me! from Ready to Teach, I thought it would be a great opportunity to build on that love for the Greek language by learning how words he learns in Greek can be translated directly to words we use everyday in English.

For this review, we were given a physical copy of the softback, consumable 124-page It's NOT Greek to Me! Student Book, the accompanying soft back, 126-page Instructor's Manual (4th Edition), and a A USB flash drive that contained the self-paced, computer-based PowerPoint instructional lessons for each of the 12 lessons.  Our package also included a handheld hole punch and a metal binder ring to help with making flash cards.

When most people think of a Greek curriculum, they think of the traditional instruction in Koine Greek, where students learn the Greek alphabet and then begin reading and translating works written in Greek. This curriculum isn't a course in the Greek language per say.  Instead, this is a course in Greek morphemes.  Let me explain...

Many of our English words are rooted in Greek. For example, most fields in science derive their names from the Greek language.  Orinthology for example breaks down to the Greek word orinth which means bird with the Greek suffix -ology which means the study of. Together they equate to the scientific study of birds. Scared of spiders?  The Greek word for spider is arachni and the suffix phobia means fear of.  Understanding and breaking down these Greek roots, suffixes and prefixes helps us to understand these longer words that we often encounter in the English language.  This curriculum focuses on exactly that.

By learning Greek morphemes, the student expands their English vocabulary.  The result is being able to break down words such as prognosticate, dyschromatopsia and even arthrocephalochirodactyldermatoglotosteologistophobia. And while that last word is likely something they won't see in their lives (it loosely means a fear of those who examine the body and is a created word for the book), many of these types of words students will encounter in college entrance tests such as the SAT. It will also put them ahead of the game if their educational focus is on the sciences. 

How It Works

It's NOT Greek to Me! breaks learning these morphemes into ten steps.  Over the course of 12 lessons, students follow these ten steps, which help to fully learn and understand the lesson.  These steps are:

1.  Using the lesson found on the included flash drive, during which the student takes notes for the weekly morphemes and their meanings.  Each weekly lesson includes roots, prefixes and suffixes that will be used for building vocabulary. 

2.  Using the workbook, students complete the work for the first half of a set of provided words. 

3.  Check their work, verifying they got the previous steps assignment correct, then complete the world for the 2nd half of the provided words. 


4. Check the work for the 2nd half of the words. Then create context clue sentences with any 6 of the words they choose. 

5.  Using both prefixes, roots, and suffixes found in the current lesson as well as previous lessons, the student then creates two new words (not found in the lessons) as well as write a context clue for both words. 

6.  To review what they learned, they analyze words created for practice (these are words not actually used in the English language but are created using various prefixes, suffixes and roots together) and match them with "funny definitions" that are also created for practice. 

7.  Make a set of study cards for reviewing what they have learned. 

8.  Read a portion of a continuous story that uses words using the words they have learned. This story has a chapter after every lesson.

9.  Take a quiz (which is found in the Instructor's Manual) that covers the morphemes for the lesson.

10. Receive feedback on how they did on their quiz.

What We Thought

Garrett has really been enjoying this curriculum.  I think initially, he was a bit disappointed as when I told him it was Greek, he was expecting Koine Greek which he enjoys.  However, I explained to him that while it wasn't the same type of Greek lessons, this curriculum would help him understand the Greek language better as he also learns Koine. 

The only real issue I had with the curriculum would be the lessons found on the USB thumb drive.  While this is a great idea, sadly, because of the way that the lessons are protected, the only program that can read the drive is Microsoft Office Powerpoint.  I tried using other powerpoint programs and none could read the drive - including Open Office, which is what I typically use.  I did sign up for the free trial for Microsoft Office so that I could use the lessons on the thumb drive for this review, but once the trial is over, I won't be able to access those lessons. 

I also need to mention that we received two thumb drives.  The first one we were sent did not match the workbook that we were using - it was designed for the 3rd Edition of the curriculum and we were using the 4th Edition.  We were able to figure out the pages that we needed for the lessons we were working on and was just going to mention the issue in this review, but Ready to Teach realized the issue and quickly sent out an addition thumb drive that corresponded with the correct edition.  

Final Thoughts

 This is a great curriculum and will definitely help to build your student's vocabulary, preparing them for college exams.  Also, viewing this curriculum from an adult and someone in the healthcare field, I think this curriculum could also be very beneficial for adults thinking about a career in healthcare since the healthcare field uses many morphemes. 

Be sure to click the banner below to read how other members of the Crew used It's NOT Greek to Me! with their families.

Learn Greek Vocabulary with Ready to Teach

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Archer and Zowie (A Homeschool Crew Review)

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


When friends get together and use their imagination, quirky things can happen. This is the main theme that is presented in the book Archer and Zowie, written and illustrated by Hans Bluedorn.  This book is written for middle school level readers and quirky doesn't even begin to cover some of the fun to be had by this pair of best friends and a microwave. We were given the opportunity to review a copy of this book over the summer and it proved to be a fun read for both Ashleigh and Garrett. 

We received a paperback copy of the book for our review.  The book is 233 pages with black and white illustrations scattered throughout.   These illustrations each take up a full page and probably take up a good 1/4 of the book, making the actual reading of the book more like 175 pages. The illustrations, drawn by the author, are simple, cute and quirky, quite fitting with the rest of the book. The author wants it known per his introduction, however, that if you do not like the illustrations in the book, too bad, he will not refund your money, he "drew them all myself and I like them. So there".   But, we thought the illustrations were cute and since we didn't pay for the book anyway, we have no complains to take up with Mr Bluedorn. Mr Bluedorn says that he will, however, pay you whatever he has in his pocket at the time if you approach him in person to explain why you might be disappointed in your reading experience.  I expect that you'll end up with a few balls of lint and a chewing gum wrapper - but since we didn't have any complains regarding poor character development, predictable pot or typos, we won't be testing him on this offer. 

So, what is this lil quirky book, you ask?  Well, in general, it's a book about friendship. But don't expect some poignant, coming of age story that will bring you to the brink of tears and leave you all in your feelings.  Instead you get a nice mix of juvenile science fiction, a bit of Dr Seuss whimsy, and the craziness that is The Book with No Pictures with the use of onomatopoeia. However, over the course of the silliness and goofyness, one gets the story of two friends (Archer and Zowie) who while they might be as different as two individuals can be, the imagination and friendship between them leads to an amazing adventure involving a tempermental microwave, an alien planet, and fighting intergalactic penguins, all while also dealing with Marcie, the babysitter.  But when the two friends do not see eye to eye and have a fight leading to conflict, it's up to Zowie to find the courage to rescue her friend and save the day. 

I found the silliness in this book on par with some of the other sillier books for this age group, as that seems to be what younger middle school students like. I did not find any content that I would consider questionable, it's all good clean, silly fun. 

 My kids really enjoyed the book, although, I had to say, they drove me absolutely BONKERS when they decided to read aloud one to me particular portion of the book which had the word "step" over and over again.  They thought it was absolutely hilarious - I thought I had just been transported to one of the Dante's seven circles of hell for a good 15 minutes while they laughed their way though the word, each time with more cacophony as both joined in the fun.  By the end of the fourth page of "step", I am pretty sure my neighbors were just as tired of the word.  I do believe Mr Bluedorn should put a warning in his introduction in regards this portion - maybe offer to pay for a day at the spa for the cruel and unusual punishment we as parents must endure upon the reading of Chapter 17.  If only all books could inspire that much enthusiasm!!!

Overall, it's a cute story that most middle school students will enjoy.


Find more information on social media
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 Members of the Crew were given the opportunity to review their choice of either Archer and Zowie or The Fallacy Detective, both by author Hans Bluedorn.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today. 
Hans Bluedorn Brings us Fallacy Detective and Archer & Zowie

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Total Transcript Solution (A Homeschool Crew Review)

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


When it comes to college entry, your student’s high school transcript is without a doubt the most important key to college acceptance.  Very rarely will a college meet in person with your student for an interview to determine if they will be accepted into their program – instead, this single piece of paper, printed in black and white, is what separates your child from the rest of other applicants.  With so much riding on a simple piece of paper, homeschool parents often struggle with exactly what they should include on their student’s official transcript.  The Total Transcript Solution from The HomeScholar LLC is the perfect answer to perfecting the perfect transcript for your student. 


About The HomeScholar LLC

The HomeScholar LLC was created by husband and wife team Matt and Lee Binz, a homeschooling family who has focused their expertise on homeschooling to completion of high school. With more than 15 years of assisting other homeschool families to confidently homeschool their children not only thru high school but also entering college, they have turned their experience with homeschooling their own children into an effort to help other families succeed through teaching higher grades with tips and advice on meeting state educational guidelines as well as meeting criteria required for college entry.

When it comes to college entry, your student’s high school transcript is without a doubt the most important key to college acceptance.  Very rarely will a college meet in person with your student for an interview to determine if they will be accepted into their program – instead, this single piece of paper, printed in black and white, is what separates your child from the rest of other applicants. 

About The Total Transcript Solution

The Total Transcript Solution is a web based video seminar designed to walk parents step by step thru the process of creating a transcript that helps to showcase your students educational achievements as well as highlight their strengths. With more than 8 hours of training that includes video, audio, downloadables, and resources, the course covers not only the process of making the perfect transcript,  but also topics such as grades, credits, GPA, creating course titles in order to meet the requirements of most college admittance and how to highlight extra curricular activities and volunteer work to really create a polished document that will get college acceptance.

The Total Transcript Solution course is broken down into 4 individual modules.  Each of these are easily found, along with their resources, on the user dashboard.


The first module is the video instruction. This is a 7 hour video course taught by Lee Binz where she explains what is a transcript, why it is important, and how to find tune it so that it will reflect the uniqueness of your homeschool and your student.  Binz also explains to determine grades and assign credits as well as how to calculate your student’s GPA.  This module also has a downloadable audio file that parents can listen to offline, as well as course handouts and sample transcripts to provide visual examples to accompany the lessons.


The second module of the program is the Ebook portion of the course.  This includes a downloadable 109 page PDF book written by Lee Binz that provides a printable reference that covers the information covered in the video seminar, as well as additional information that was not presented in the video.  This book also contains sample transcripts to use as reference when writing your own student’s transcript, making it a great reference to keep beside the computer and refer to when sitting down to write your student’s transcript.


Module 3 provides various transcript templates, some prefilled out to use as reference as well as blank templates to fill out for your student.   These are provided in various formats such as Word, Rich Text Format, Excel, and Apple Pages format. 




The fourth module isn’t a module so much, but is an additional service included with the purchase of the course.  The course includes one twenty-minute private phone consultation with Mrs Binz to discuss ideas and issues with your student’s transcript.  Purchasers are able to email their student’s documents ahead of time and arrange for the phone conversation to discuss what improvements or changes can be made.  In my opinion, this is a wonderful service and would be extremely helpful for any parent looking to help their child get into their first choice college as the small details can be what makes or breaks their application or awarding of scholarships.

While both of my kids are still middle school, they will both be entering 9th Grade in 1 year and will begin their high school years, so I really appreciate having this valuable resource available ahead of time to prepare me ahead of time. It prepares me to know what I need to do and how to keep the records I need from the start, rather than getting frustrated and having to try to organize everything during their senior year.  By knowing from the start, I can begin their transcript in the 9th grade and have it correct from the start throughout their high school years.

I think this is a great resource and would be valuable to any parent who is going to homeschool their student through high school. 


#hsreviews #homeschool, #homeschooling, #homeschoolhighschool, #thehomescholar, #homeschooltranscript, #homeschooltranscripts, #homeschoolrecords, #howtohomeschool, #homeschoolmiddleschool, #homeschoolmoms, #homeschoollife

Connect with The HomeScholar LLC on social media
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 Members of the Crew were given the opportunity to review different products from The HomeScholar LLC.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today. 
Homeschool High School to College with The HomeScholar

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Math Essentials (A Homeschool Crew Review)

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

Starting a new school year is always super difficult for us to transition into because during summer break, the kids tend to "forget" a lot of the things they learned prior.  Going to the park, swimming at the pool and hanging out with their friends definitely creates a "mind fog" for them, which usually takes a few weeks to help them get back into the swing of things.  This is especially true when it comes to their math facts, especially their multiplication tables. However, the  Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills   from Math Essentials  has really helped us this summer to find an easy and quick way to help my youngest keep her multiplication facts in the forefront of her mind.   
The Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills are a series books designed to provide very quick drills for students to practice their math facts knowledge.  Members of the Crew were given three different books -  Addition, Multiplication and Division, to use with their families. Each book is a consumable paperback workbook containing 1,440 Speed Wheel Drills.   Developed by Richard W. Fisher, winner of the Intel Innovations in Teaching Award, these math drills help students to instantly recall math facts, making their math assignments easier. 

For our review, we concentrated on the red book, which is multiplication facts, however, each of the three books follows the same format. At the beginning of the book is page explaining how to use the book, as well as tips as to why learning math facts is important.  At the end of the book is a resource section that contains  a glossary of math terms, a list of important math symbols, as well as charts for math facts such as square root, fraction and decimal equivalents and a chart for either addition, division or multiplication facts. These pages take up a total of 17 pages of the 139 page book.  

The rest of the book is the pages of speed drill wheels.  Each page contains 12 speed drill wheels, each wheel dedicated to one math fact family.  This means that each day, your student will practice the math facts for 1 - 12.  (ie: multiplying (or adding or dividing) by 1, multiplying by 2, ect until multiplying by 12).

Sample page from the Multplication workbook

Each wheel is easy to complete.  Students work around the wheel, using the target number in the inner wheel and then adding, multiplying, or dividing (depending on the workbook being used) by the number in the middle wheel and writing their answer in the outermost wheel.  Each wheel has an area above to write how many of the answers are correct out of 12, and how long it took to complete the wheel in total.

Same of one of the multiplication speed drill wheels

Depending on your student's proficiency with their math facts, these drills can easily be used as a quick warm up before starting other assignments or, as we have been using for the summer, a quick practice each day just to make sure they retain the math facts before returning to the school year.  How many drills are used at each setting is at the parent's discretion - one or two wheels a day for those students who are just beginning to learn the targeted fact, or an entire page for those more proficient in the material might work. 

For our review, I opted to have Ashleigh complete one page a day, three days a week, just to keep ahead on her memorization during the summer.  We did not, however, use the space to record time for each wheel, as she was instead completing a full page and we didn't want to stop each wheel to record time and begin timing for the next wheel.

On average, it now takes her about 5 minutes to complete a page.  When she started, it took her about 15 minutes.  Over the last few weeks, her times have gotten significantly faster as she has used the facts over and over and has really solidified the memorization of the facts. 

The only negative I have to say about the books is I found the resources to overall be unnecessary. For a student struggling with addition facts and using this workbook for remediation, it doesn't seem necessary to have root numbers or a glossary with terms such as coefficient, disjointed sets, exponents, and hypotenuse.  While this isn't a make or break for the book, I just found it to be unnecessary and could have been used for more practice wheels.  I don't see a student needing this information grabbing any of these books to look this type of information up and it did not contribute at all to the purpose of the book.  
Overall, this has been a great tool to use for the summer and we will continue to use it during the school year as well, eventually moving from the multiplication facts to the division facts using the next book (Green cover). 


For more information about Math Essentials and the large variety of resources available for your homeschooling setting, be sure to visit their website. 

Members of the Crew have been using the three workbooks in various ways with their own families.  While we focused on Multiplication, other families have been using the addition and the division workbook with their students.  Be sure to click the banner below to read their reviews today.
Master Math Facts with Math Essentials Speed Drills

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Meal Planning


 As the Olympics comes to a close, so does our week of International eating.. While we didn't watch a lot of the games this year, it was fun to represent various countries with our meal planning. From the UK with Bangers and mash with Yorkshire pudding, Morocco with Chicken Shawarma, and Kenya with a Beef Curry stew, we had an enjoyable few weeks "eating around the world".

Croque Madame on English Muffins and green salad with apples

Chicken Shawarma Plate with hummus, naan bread, feta rice and tomato/cucumber salad

Jamacian Beef Patty with salad

Kenyan Beef Curry with cornbread

Greek Gyros 

Beef Bulgogi bowls

Bangers and Mash with Peas and Yorkshire pudding

Mongolian beef with rice and steamed broccoli



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