For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, May 18, 2015

Grade 7 Middle School Plans

The middle school years are on us. My oldest is going to be grade seven next year. As I think about our curriculum line up for next year, I cannot but think I need to look ahead to the High School years which will be upon us sooner that we think.

My son does not quite know yet what he wants to do, but he has a deep love for History and logic, (and for everything Marvel and DC connected), so I am thinking he is probably gonna end up in the humanities. With that in mind I am cogitating a course of study that will hopefully prepare him to that end, while still working on some general subjects that are kind of basics.


We have been using and enjoying a review product from last year: CTC Math. Though the subscription ended a few months ago, I was blessed to be chosen for this year's review of it again. You can read my review from last year here.

Earlier this year, I got a good deal on the Life of Fed Before High School series, and we are enjoying going through that. We just finished Fractions and are in the early chapters of  Decimals and Percents.


We will be continuing with Tapestry of Grace as we all love it here, and it covers not only History, but also Literature, Worldview, and Bible Survey. We started the Dialectic stage this year, and this is serving to develop his critical thinking skills as well as research skills. We will be doing Year 2 in the Fall: Middle Ages.

Language Arts

I already own MCT Magic Lens, so we will be doing that.

I am debating to get Analytical Grammar as well.

His spelling skills need work, so I am toying (which I have been for the past two years) with Phonetic Zoo. I just got on a review for  Dynamic Literacy, which is a vocabulary curriculum, which I hope will help with spelling as well.


Writing and Rhetoric, from Classical Academic Press,  is working quite well for him, so we will most likely stick with it, moving on to Book 4: Chreia and Proverbs. Watch out for a review of Book 3: Narrative II, coming on this blog soon.

Classical Writing: Poetry for Beginner, which I purchased last year but did not get to do this year.

This year I want to start to get him ready for high school literature, so I am thinking of using the new Tapestry Literature for Young Adults.

I am also considering using Reasoning and Reading from Classical Academic Press to reinforce his critical and analytical skills.


Latin and Greek
I had to stop Latina Christiana mid-year this year, as it was not working out very well with him. I  am hopping to start again this coming year using Latin Alive, and also start Greek for Children both from Classical Academic Press also.

French, not sure what will be next once he finishes Duolingo.


I am loving Visual Learning Systems, so we will park here for a while. You can read my review of it here.


The Art of Argument from Classical Academic Press.


Bible Road Trip and Firmly Planted (of which you can read my recent review). We will probably continue doing Bible verse copywork as well.

I am linking up at Kym's Blog Homeschool Coffee Break:

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

*** This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Hymn - My Soul Longs for the Lord

My Soul Longs for the Lord

My soul longs for the Lord in a weary land 
Wells are dry and I am empty, only dust in my hands
How I yearn for streams of mercy where my soul can be restored
“Come and drink” Jesus calls me, and you will thirst no more”
Oh the fullness of Christ, Word of God.

Living Word you walked among us, our Emmanuel
And you spoke into the darkness, broke the powers of hell
Grace and mercy flowed from Calvary, to the valley of our need
It is done, “It is finished,” From every sin set free
Oh the victory of Christ, Word of God, Word of life

 How often in the stillness have I heard your voice
 Every whisper, every promise calls my heart to rejoice
 In the quiet of the morning, through the watches of the night
 In the fire of my struggles, there’s courage for the fight
 Oh the power of Christ, Word of God, Word of life

 My soul longs to walk closer with the Lord I serve
 More than riches, more than favour I delight in Your Word
 Turn my gaze from all that’s worthless, set my heart on things above
 May my life tell of your goodness, Your way of truth and love
 Oh the wisdom of Christ, Word of God, Word of life

 My soul longs for the day I will see your face
 Hear Your shout of jubilation, no more tears, death or pain
 Every word at last accomplished, Heaven songs and earth replies
 To our God be the glory let all creation cry
 Praise and honour to Christ, Word of God, Word of life

By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Random 5 On Saturday

It's been another month since my last update on what is going on here at our house. It's time for a Random 5.

1. I am trying my hand at gardening, and balcony gardening at that, since we live in an apartment. This will be  a first for me, and so far so good. I have planted two types of tomatoes, lettuce, Zucchini, thyme and yellow peppers. I just did a transplant today.

2. On the school front we are nowhere close to wounding down. We still have:
  • 9 weeks to go with our Tapestry of Grace.
  • 6 weeks in our Writing program, Writing and Rhetoric.
  • We just started  Life of Fred Decimals and Percents a couple of weeks ago, and there are 32 chapters, at one a day.
  • Latin is getting there.
  • We started a new program for vocabulary for the crew: WorldBuildOnline.
  • French for Joho is almost done. Zach's duolingo still has a few lessons to go.
  • We finished Psalm 121 in our copywork. Next week we will start Philippians 2.
  • Grammar will still be going for a few weeks.
  • We are enjoying a new Bible Study curriculum: Firmly Planted. Check my just posted review!
See all the great Firmly Planted resources.
3. My oldest has been doing cooking as one of his elective classes this session, and yesterday, we got to enjoy the nice apple pie he made. Delish! And the best part, I did not have to make it!

4. My youngest has taken on baking. He has assigned Friday as his baking day. He's tried a few cookie recipes and a cake so far. He is baking one for our church's luncheon for Mother's Day tomorrow.

5.  We had a field trip this last Monday. My oldest got to explore the Underground Railroad at the Pickering Village Museum. My youngest was led through life and school days back in the days.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Real Life Press - Firmly Planted - TOS Review

Finding a Bible or devotional curriculum for kids can be really hard in my experience. Most of what is out there I find very shallow and/or do not use the Bible properly. A lot of it tends to be moralistic as opposed to Theo-centric and Gospel oriented..
As a member of the Schoolhouse review crew, I was offered the opportunity to review a Bible study curriculum put out by Real Life Press, called Firmly Planted. I am happy to tell you that this one gets a wholehearted yes from me. I specifically got the Family Study Guide Books of Moses Part II and its accompanying workbook.
What is Real Life Press?

Real Life Press is a company founded by Jay and Heidi St John, both writers and speakers, with the purpose of spreading God's Truth through His Word, and to encourage people to live life the way it was supposed to be lived, under God's authority and through a relationship with Christ.
Real Life Press seeks to accomplish their purpose through two main product lines that they have developed:
Firmly Planted Bible Study guides 
The Busy Mom: resources for the homeschool mama.
Some on the crew got to review items from the Busy Mom site and others, like myself, got to review a Firmly Planted Bible Study guide with workbook.
Firmly Planted Study guides is a ten - week study meant to help you and your child make sense of the Bible and discover God's Truths. The series contain  4 books so far:
The Books of Moses Part I
The Books of Moses Part II
Gospel Part I
Gospel Part II

Each week is divided into 4 days. The first day is divided into 5 parts:
1. Reading of the narrative being studied that week, 
2. The seed: the focus idea for the week, 
3. Planting the seed: the verse to be memorized 
4. Watering the seedling: a reflection on the passage of the week
5. Day 1 Daily Study: discussion for day 1. 

Each daily study is divided into 3 parts:
1.A reflection on a particular set of verses
2. Digging Deeper: a further reflection on the passage
3. Taste the Fruit: life application

These studies are available both as print and digital versions. We got the digital version of Books of Moses Part II and accompanying workbook. This particular study takes you through Genesis 37 to Exodus 14, taking you through the narratives of the story of Joseph, Moses, the giving of the 10 Commandments, the Tabernacle, the Golden Calf episode, the choosing of the Levites, and finally exploring the Promise Land.
The boys and I worked through this study 4 times a week, during the review period. We would do the devotional part together one week and they would work on the workbook pages the other week. 
The worksheets consist of a variety of activities:
  • Crossword
  • Word search
  • Colouring pages
  • Map work
  • Notebooking
  • Nature activities
  • Thinking and critical questions
  • And more

Our opinion
I really enjoyed using these studies. They are engaging, and use Scripture in context.  The whole picture of the narrative, and of the Bible as a whole is taken into consideration, which is lacking in many Bible studies and devotionals. The daily studies are just about the right length. They are well thought out and thought provoking. My boys and I have had some nice discussions resulting from these studies. Just today, as we were talking about the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, the discussion led me to point out the greatness and wonder of God's grace in allowing us to believe in Him.
The worksheets are also engaging, and are really helpful in bringing home the points made in the studies. There is something for every kind of learner and level.
I would really encourage you to check out Real Life Press Firmly Planted Family Bible Study Guides, if you are looking for a Bible study to do with your kids.
You can find Real Life Press on social media. Make sure to visit them:
Real Life Press Review

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A+Interactive Math - TOS Review

Math is a subject that threatens many parents and students alike. Many of us fear not being able to teach ur kids Math and/or that our kids suffer from Learning gaps. I really love it when we get Math curriculum to try on the schoolhouse review crew.

The latest of these is from A+ Interactive  Math. Some got the Family Math Package, others, like me, got the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan.

A Plus interactive Math is an online Math Curriculum that offers you a full Math Curriculum for grade 1 to 12 as well as an adaptive Placement Test with individualized Lessons Plans.

A + Interactive is online, so you will need a computer with internet access and log ins for each students. We encountered quite a few difficulties logging in at the beginning of the review period, but in the end we found that the program worked best for us using the Internet Explorer browser.

We got to review the Adaptive Placement Test w/Lesson plan.

How does it work?

Your student gets to take a timed test on the different math topics of the grade you choose to test them on. The test consists of a series of questions varying in number from 16 to 20. At the end, a grade is awarded and you are told if you are at grade level or not. In the teacher's log in, you can see what level they tested at in each particular topic.

The questions cover the ranges around the grade selected in order to determine the mastery level.

Once the test has been taken, if you did not pass, the program sets you up on a set of lessons to take on that particular topic.

You can take all the tests on the different subjects and then go through the lessons, or you can take a test and then follow it with the lessons.

The lessons consists of multimedia lessons followed by Q&A type quiz. If you want the child to have more practice you can also have him do extra questions.

How did we use it?
I had both boys take a few of the tests and then had them go the lessons of the ones they did not get a grade level passing score. They worked on it every school day, one lesson at a time.

Our opinion:
The boys did not fancy A + Interactive much. The technical problems we had at the beginning of the review really frustrated them, as they had to retake the test after having lost connection half way through.

The curriculum has a lot of great wonderful features though:
  • It is interactive.
  • You get feedback right away.
  • It is a rather independent program. No parent involvement needed.
  • It is pretty comprehensive in nature.
  • You can retake the tests anytime and any number of times.
  • You can go through the questions after the test has been taken and see where the mistakes were done.
  • There are printable worksheets available.
One of the aspects that did not appeal to me was the fact that he lessons cover the whole topic. I wished it only covered the specific sub-topics that were missed. The boys did not enjoy having to go through things they thought they already knew. Now, that said, you are able to skip the parts that you do not want to review.

This Adaptive Placement Test w/Lesson plan is a 3-month subscription, which is what we received. I think it will be sufficient to see if your child is at grade level or not, and to help close gaps, if necessary.

This is a really good Math program worth checking out. It allowed me to see how many gaps my oldest, especially has in his Math skills (which I suspected, but was made more evident and specifics.). With my youngest, it showed also that he was at grade level, though I had him tested at a higher grade.

If you are interested in checking out A + Interactive, they offer a few freebies for you to check out:

Free Math Placement Test:

Free Family Math Packages:

Free Software Download:

Free Single Grade Level:

Free eBook:

A+Interactive is also offering a 40% to 50% sale on their "Family Package" and "Adaptive Placement Testing w/Lesson"s between which ends May 18.

A+ Interactive Math Review

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Adding Fun in Homeschooling - And a Giveaway

This month The Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team is looking at "How we have fun in homeschooling" . You can find all the posts' round up over at Lisa's blog: The Canadian Homeschooler.

When we think of homeschooling, of course we think books and workbooks. Especially in my case, since we homeschool with a classical bent, the general feeling is bookwork, and in a very real sense it is. We seek to be quite rigorous in our schooling.

That said, homeschooling does not need to be all bookwork. It is really more about learning, and learning can take many forms.

Today let me share with you a few of the ones that we consistently use in our homeschool:

Games: I love games and my kids love games. So games is a very important part of our daily routines. When they were younger we did a lot of subject-oriented games, such as Number Binfo, or  flashcard games. Now we do more strategy games. Our favorites are:
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Risk
  • Kings of Israel
  • 7 Wonders
  • Dutch Blitz (not so much strategy but lots of fun, and good for learning how to work with negative number :-)
Let's not forget the classics as well: Scrabble, Monopoly, Trivia and memory games. one of my sons loves doing puzzles and Sudoku as well.

Outside schooling: I have one child who loves being outside and exercise, so as much as I can, I try to go outside and give him that chance to enjoy the outdoors with a ball in hand or in feet. My other son, when he is outside, loves to play imaginary battles. When they were younger we would go on nature walks and be on the look out for those birds, and animals, and creeks, seeking to ignite this wonder to God's beautiful creation. Whatever they do outside, enjoying the outdoors can be one way to add fun in homeschooling.

Field trips: This goes without saying, Field trips are one of the best ways to add fun to homeschooling. Whether it is when we go the Aquarium with friends, or to the Science Center for discovery, or to the Zoo as a family trip, field trips are inevitably lots of fun for kids.

Day out: Our family loves road trips, so anytime we have a chance to drive out, we do. We did this more when they were younger, but even now, we are always on the look out for day trips. We only live 1 1/2 hour from Niagara Falls, so this is a regular destination for us, but this goes also for Ottawa, or Montreal. Picnic days would fall in this category as well.

Videos: Videos, through TV, Netflix, You Tube, or DVDS can be ways to add fun to schooling as well. My boys love learning through videos, and for them that's a break from bookwork, and is very enjoyable. Again, I used this much more when they were younger, but from time to time I still use this to add a change of pace to our school routine. These can be movies, or educational productions. One of my boys' favorite to watch is History Crashcourse.

Kids naturally know how to have fun, and homeschooling should not kill that in them, but harness it. My boys always have fun in their homeschool. They play ball all the time, play with each others, and are able to turn any learning occasion into a fun time, if I let them. As a parent and homeschooler, it is our responsibility to have fun with them, to laugh with them, and help them enjoy the learning process and journey.

What are some ways you have fun in your homeschool?

Now for the Giveaway:

5 winners, each to receive 1 Picaboo Yearbook - softcover - 20 pages - 8 1/2 x 11.
Opened to Canadians only, and ends May 13th@ 11.59pm EST

Monday, April 27, 2015

Scrapbooking Made Easy - A Picaboo Yearbooks Review

Do you like scrapbooking? Or do you have lots of pictures that need organizing? Or, are you craft-challenged but would love to do something nice for your school year end? I've got good news for you.

I am not a very crafty person, so I usually stay away from things like scrapbooking. That said, I was offered a 20-pages online scrapbook yearbook to try from Picaboo Yearbooks. I can tell you that I am glad I tried my hands at it.

Picaboo is a an online or digital scrapbooking company that also offers yearbook options. What a great way to catalogue and gather in one place all of those memories we create as homeshoolers! You could make a yearbook about almost anything: year at a glance, field trips memories, family activities of the year etc...

At first I was a bit at a lost in the process, but I very quickly got the hang of it after watching a few of their tutorials.

First you pick between hardcover or softcover, then you pick how many pages you want your yearbook to be. You can always add sections to your yearbook, but not pages to sections already set. The basic yearbook is 20 pages, if you want more you pay more.

You get to work on it section by section. First the front page, then any other sections that you decide to create. In my case, I only make one major section, since I was not quite sure what I was doing.

Once you've chosen your sections and your pages, you upload your pictures for each section either from your computer, or facebook. You can always switch your pictures around between sections, if you change your mind later. The actual filling of the yearbook is a drag and drop process. Pretty easy, right?

Picaboo offers you a variety of options:
  • Lots of backgrounds to choose from
  • Stickers options
  • Lots of page layouts options, which you can easily change around 
  • Text options
  • You can resize your picture, or zoom them (not much but somewhat)
The checkout process is also very easy and swift, with quick delivery (at least in my case).

I was very happy with my product, and would definitely encourage you to check Picaboo Yearbook out.

How much does it cost, you may ask? A 20 pages - 8 1/2 x 11 yearbook  costs 9.49 USD + shipping. It ships from the US, but it is quite fast.

I have a feeling this is going to be a yearly activity for me now....

Disclaimer: I was offered a free 20-page yearbook free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hearts for Home Blog Hop - April 23rd

It is Thrusday and time for the Hearts for Home Blog Hop. Come join us !

Hearts for Home Blog Hop
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Hearts for Home Blog Hop" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Hearts for Home Blog Hop" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
The Hearts for Home Blog Hop features encouraging and inspiring posts on home, marriage, parenting, tips and tricks for homeschooling, cooking, crafts, DIY projects, and anything home related. This is your one stop for sharing your family friendly posts and for finding these resourceful blog posts you are looking for.

This week's most clicked through post is from Embracing Destiny: The Ultimate Guide for Free lapbooks for Every Subjects.

Ultimate List of Free Lapbooks for Every Subjects @

My personal favorites from last week:

Our Steps to College - What About Curriculum

10 Garden Lessons

Don't forget to check the other co-host bloggers here.

Come share your posts with us and happy hopping!

***Family friendly posts ONLY! We reserve the right to delete any post that do not fit this criteria.