Book Reviews

I recently finished my third book, From the Mouth of Babes. The review are trickling in and it has been a humbling experience.   I wanted to share a few of them with my faithful readers.

Full Circle Homeschooling

The Bishop’s Wife 

The McClanahan 7

We Love to Homeschool 

Through the Calm and Through the Storm

Over the past year I have had many opportunities to review various books, curriculum, music, and such. It is an honor when a person asks you to take a peek into their work and offer your honest opinion. But like anything else, until you have walked on the other side, you cannot comprehend all it holds. Unless you have done it, it is hard to understand what it is like to pour yourself into a work and have others critique it.  I greatly appreciate the time and engery from these reviewers.

Read for the Heart

Do you have children that love to read?  We do.  We are a family of readers. When my children were younger I was very specific about what they read.  In fact, unless their father or I had read the book ourselves we did not let them read it.  The reason is simple.  For a Christian, the battle field is often fought in the mind.  Therefore, what we put into our mind has a tremendous influence on our lives and effects our spiritual growth.  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

However, we ran into a challenge when our children started out reading us.  Aaron would pick up a book at the library and ask if he could read it.  I would tell him to get the book and his father or I would read it first.  But we got to the point where we couldn’t keep up with him.  So, what is a parent to do? 

We solved the problem for a little while by finding authors we trusted.  We would then let them read anything they had written.  Again, we ran into problems there.  For example, my children love C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series but there we just some of his books we did not wanting the children to read until they were older.

If a parent wants to guard their children’s hearts they must sort through thousands of books to find those that are worthwhile.   There is, however, another option.  You can find a trusted source that has already done the work for you.

Apologia offers the solution.  Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson is a trusted guide in children’s literature.  In her book she recommends over 1,000 stories for young people from the classics to modern favorites, picture books to adventure novels, and read aloud favorites.  She shares her heart on reading and informs us of the literacy crisis here in America.

Read for the Heart is a wealth of knowledge.  If you would like more information about the book, visit Apologia to read a sample chapter.  The book cost $17.00.

To see what others are saying about this book, click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Read for the Heart in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Considering God’s Creation

When was the last time you looked at creation and reflected upon it?  When was the last time you gazed into the sky and considered its vastness?  When was the last time you looked at a tiny flower growing in the field and saw the hand of God?   “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

 When we consider such things we are drawn to God.  Isn’t it amazing that true science always points us to the Creator?  Yet, the enemy has used the fallacy in modern science to not only draw people away from God but to completely destroy people’s faith.  Evolution is a false religion.  It is based upon humanistic faith and masquerading as science.  It saddens me to realize just how many children are daily indoctrinated in it.

 But what an absolute blessing to be able to teach my children the truths about the world God made!  We have been going through a creative natural science curriculum from Eagles Wings Education Materials called Considering God’s Creation.  This study is written entirely from a biblical perspective.  It begins with creation, continues with the solar system, a study of the earth, first of non-living things, including rocks and weather. It then goes on with the Plant Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, animal anatomy & physiology, and finally human anatomy and physiology.

 I really like Considering God’s Creation. There are 36 lessons that can be used alone or as a supplement for children through 7th grade.  In addition to the 272 page book you receive a teacher’s manual and an audio CD.  As a bonus, Considering God’s Creation is very reasonable priced at just $29.95.

To find out more information visit their site.  Or to see what others are saying click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Considering God’s Creation in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Teaching your Child to Read

The other day, my husband and I were talking with a man who was considering homeschooling.  I shared with him that teaching my children to read was one of the greatest blessings I have had as a mother. (That is aside from leading them to a relationship with the Lord.)  Reading is such a foundational part of life.  It has been said that great men are great readers.  I believe that statement.  Reading allows you to go places you’ve never been.  It opens up the world before you.  It inspires, teaches, and motives people to do great things.  Reading allows you to learn from the past and plan for the future.  These are the reasons I teach my children to read. 

However, the most preeminent reason I teach my children how to read is so they can read the Bible.  Can you imagine not being able to read God’s Word?   Did you know that there are people here in American like that?  A few weeks ago we had a lady in our church get saved.  I asked her if she had a Bible.  She said she did but that she could not read it.  My heart broke for her.  How many people can read God’s Word but choose not to?  That was not the case here.  Listen, it’s not that she didn’t want to read her Bible, she couldn’t.  A person cannot spiritually grow without reading the Bible.  So last night our family went to the local bookstore and bought this new believer an MP3 player with the entire Bible loaded on it.

Reading is so important!  

Because we have placed such an emphasis on reading, my older children are excellent readers.  And Andrew is following up behind them nicely.  Recently, we had the opportunity to review Scott Foresman Reading Street for 2nd grade.  Most of you are probably familiar with Scott Foresman.  When the books arrived I was very impressed with the quality of them.  They are sturdy, hardbacks of just under 500 pages.  The books are brightly colored and beautifully illustrated.  Andrew has really enjoyed reading them.  The books have activities, vocabulary words, and thought provoking questions for the student.  For those teaching enthusiasts, there are even websites available (like this one) with additional Reading Street teacher resources like power points, downloads, and links.

Reading Street is offered for pre-K to 6th grade. The 2nd grade books we reviewed (student edition, volume 2.1 and 2.2) cost $86.97.  Or, you can purchase them individually for $43.47 each.  The cost was a little too steep for our family but this was the only downside of these books.

To see for yourself visit their site.

To see what others are saying about Pearson Education click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received these books  in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

An Offensive Lifestyle

 The other day I received my copy of Home School Enrichment and was surprised to see an article that I had written, “Homeschooling – An Offensive Lifestyle.”  I submitted it some time back and to be honest I had forgotten all about it.  Apparently, the Lord had the timing all worked out.  It seems as though this subject hit a lot of people.  I have had more response from it than any other I have written.

If you do not get the magazine you can read the May/June 2011 issue online at  http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/digital/

 Below are a few excerpts from my readers.

 “Kimberly, I just came across your article in Home School Enrichment and it was refreshing! My husband and I often times feel “alone” in our decisions of how to raise our daughter and the choices we make……”

 “Kimberly, I just received a free copy of  Homeschool Enrichment magazine in the mail and read your article on offensive lifestyle.  I just wanted to thank you.  It has been a very hard year for my family…..”

“Mrs. Williams, I read and thoroughly enjoyed your article.  Ever more increasingly these days, Christians need to hear your message especially and even when it feels like they’re under attack from the world…..”

 “I just had to write you and tell you how much your article in the Homeschool Enrichment touched me tonight.  I just read ‘Homeschooling, An Offensive Lifestyle’ and it encouraged me so much…. I have been feeling a lot of persecution from my CHRISTIAN friends and it has gotten me very discouraged.  It’s like we don’t fit in with the world and we don’t fit in with the church.  God spoke to me through your article and it really lifted me up…… Thank you very much for your words of wisdom!”

A Breath of Fresh Air…

  My children love to read.  But finding wholesome reading material that stirs my children’s imagination can be a challenge.  You see, this mom doesn’t let her children have free range at the local library.  It’s just too dangerous.  I know what you are thinking.  I’m being overprotective.  Maybe so, but I have weighed the options.  And I have came to the conclusion that I’d rather be too cautious than to have lies and misconceptions but into my children’s minds.

So let me tell you about my newest discovery – The Circle C Beginnings Series.  It is written by Susan K. Marlow, a homeschooling mom who lives in the state of Washington on a 14-acre homestead.  You might be familiar with Circle C Adventures series for readers 9 to 14.  This new series is written for children ages 6 to 8 who are ready to start their first chapter books.

In this series you meet Andi Carter, a young girl who is eager to grow up and experience the Wild West of the late 1800s.  With her baby horse, Taffy, she lives an exciting life on Circle C ranch.  We were sent Andi’s Indian Summer to review.  The book is a breath of fresh country air!  It is as cute as can be, making you want to throw on some overalls and spend an afternoon wading in a cool brook.  Best of all, I do not have to worry about the content of these books.  In fact, in Andi’s Indian Summer, Andi learns that you must be careful what you read.  A lesson still true for today!

As an added bonus you can visit www.andiandtaffy.com for free coloring, activity, and lapbook pages.  The books are a great price at $4.95 each.  Or you can order all four in the series for $15.96 (+ $3 shipping).  They are also available at Amazon, CBD, and Kregel Publications.  If you have a young child and you are in need of some great reading material be sure and check out this series.  You won’t be disappointed.

To see what others are saying about these books, click here.

Here is Abigail reading the story to her little brother, Andrew.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received this book in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

See The Light

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him,” (Col 1:16).

Every now and then, when I allow myself to slow down enough, I love to take a few minutes and just simply reflect on the wonder of creation. God created such a magnificent world. Can you imagine what it must have looked like before the fall of man? The world is a glorious masterpiece created by the Master Designer. And even more wonderful than the creation of this world is the creation of man. God made man as the pinnacle of all creation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” (Eph 2:10).

Creativity is a wonderful character trait to have and to teach our children. I like to remind my children that God is the most creative of all. When we are creative, we are being like Him. I can show my children how to be creative in their writing and with problem solving. But when it comes to things like sketching, drawing, or painting, I have no artistic abilities. All I can do is encourage them. But I have learned as a homeschooling mom that if I am not skilled in a subject it doesn’t mean my children can’t be.

I have recently discovered a great tool for teaching children art. It is called See The Light Art Class. It is taught by Mater Artist Pat Knepley. The 9 volume DVD series contains 36 complete step-by-step tutoring lessons. Mrs. Knepley has a warm personality which captures your attention. In each easy to understand lesson she leads you through a successful drawing experience every time. Each lesson runs approximately 15 minutes and includes suggestions for follow-up activities. No workbooks are needed just basic art supplies. What I really like about the art class is that biblical truth is integrated into every lesson.

We were sent Volume 1 with art lessons 1 – 4 to review.

  • Lesson One – Tools of the Trade Learn the basics of what makes a drawing.
  • Lesson Two – It All Starts with a Line – The most fundamental element of all drawing is the line – but not all lines are alike.
  • Lesson Three – Contours & Composition – Train your eyes and hands to be synchronized!
  • Lesson Four – Draw What You See – You’ll take a common everyday item – a shoe – as your subject for a completed contour drawing.
  • Bonus Lesson – Chalk-It-Easy Chalk Art Lesson

Aaron is the artist in the family so I chose him to do these lessons. He enjoyed them and learned a few things but thought they were too short. I think he would be more challenged in some of the more advanced lessons. His favorite lesson was the bonus chalk lesson. We all agreed that it was rather cool.

You can purchase the entire 9 Volume DVD series with 36 lessons from See The Light for $99.99. But before you do, check out the website to watch some of the free art lessons. You can also request a free DVD of volume one, the same volume I reviewed.

To see what others are saying about this product click here.

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received See The Light Art Class Volume One in exchange for an honest product review. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Choose Life

We have all heard the adage, “You are what you eat.” And we would probably all agree that here is significant truth to the statement. But what about a deeper absolute truth, found in the Holy Scriptures? As believers, our body is the temple of God. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s,” (1Corinthians 6:19-20).

This is a concept that I have been greatly convicted about over the past few years. When it comes to taking care of our body, there are deeper implications than just the physical. My quest for a healthier lifestyle began last year. I realized that our family did not get to the place we were overnight and that we would not be able to get back overnight either. So I started slow. I started buying whole wheat flour for baking. I replaced our salt with natural sea salt. I bought more fruits and encouraged our children to drink lots of water. At the first of the year I cut out sugar from my diet. And just this change alone has reduced my weight by 15 pounds. With the Lord’s help, I will continue to make changes for myself and my family one step at a time.

I was excited for the opportunity to review a family nutrition and health program called Nutrition 101: Choose Life by Growing Healthy Homes. “This is just what I need!” I thought after receiving the 448 page book in ebook format. I must admit that I have not read it all. To be honest, there is just too much information. It will take me months to accurately go through the program. But already I have learned so much valuable information. For example, those sugar substitutes that I had switched to are very harmful. I also thought I was doing well to drink cold water with my meals. I had been told that cold water would speed up your metabolism. While this may be true, it is not good to do this. When we consume ice cold drinks (even water) with our meals, fatty foods can congeal in our stomach making them harder to digest (gross, I know!). These are just a few of the things I have been learning and passing along to my family.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! Is broken down into six units:

  • 1. The Brain and Nervous System
  • 2. Digestion and Elimination
  • 3. Respiration and Olfactory
  • 4. Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  • 5. Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  • 6. Endocrine System and Emotions

It is filled with hands-on activities, science and art projects, family-friendly recipes, nutrition facts, charts, practical tips and an exhaustive index. It is truly a powerful resource for healthy living. You can purchase the beautiful, hardbound book from Growing Healthy Homes for $99.95. The CD ROM is available for $79.95 or you can purchase both for $129.95.

As a reader of this blog you get a chance to get the same discount you would at a homeschool conference.  Use the coupon code TOScrew11 for a 15% discount!

To see what others are saying about this product, click here.  

Growing Healthy Homes is more than a business. It is truly a ministry. Here is what they say:

We established Growing Healthy Homes LLC in 2007 to educate and train families regarding God’s plan to optimum health as outlined in the Bible. We are wives, mothers, researchers and teachers dedicated to reaching homes with a message of hope and healing. Our product line includes family-centered and health-infused books/e-books, as well as educational materials for user of pure therapeutic-grade essential oils. It is our mission to honor God by creating and distributing products that educate and empower His children to establish healthy, Christ-centered homes.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3 John 1:2)

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Nutrition 101: Choose Life in exchange for an honest product review. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Teaching Latin – Really? Why? How?

Why would a parent want to teach their child Latin?  Isn’t it just a “dead” language?  Can it really be that helpful?  The answer might surprise some.  Over two-thirds of our English words come from Latin roots.  You have probably heard Latin phrases like carpe diem (seize the day), vice versa (the order being reversed), or tempus fugit (time flies).   

Many abbreviations come from Latin words. 

For example:

  • anno domini (abbreviated AD),  in the year of the Lord.
  • et cetera (abbreviated etc.),   and so on.
  • exempli gratia (abbreviated e.g.),   for example.

Latin not only reveals a great deal about English but it enhances expression.  It develops understanding and appreciation for literature and the classical impact on our modern culture.  And learning other foreign languages comes easier to a child who has learned Latin – French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian are all derived from Latin.

As we can see there are many good reasons to teach Latin. So what is it that holds parents back?  I cannot speak for all, but I can speak for myself.  Learning a new language is time consuming.  There are days that I do well to get everything taught.  In addition, it is hard to teach what you do not know. 

I was recently given an opportunity to review a Latin program from Classical Academic Press with Andrew.  Due to my concerns for teaching a different language, I was anxious to give it a try.  And I am glad I did!  Song School Latin is a gentle introduction to Latin for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade.   What I love about the program is the music CD with over 30 songs.  Andrew and I spent about 15 minutes a day learning new words, reviewing the songs, and working in the activity book.  He really enjoyed the coloring pages as well.  When we finish the program Andrew will have learned over 100 everyday Latin vocabulary words.

You can purchase the Song School Latin student book with CD for $22.95.  The teacher’s edition is an additional $22.95.  They also have available the Latin Monkey Match Flashcard Game for $24.95.  Or, you can buy them together and save money by purchasing the bundle for $64.95.

Visit the Classical Academic Press website for more information.  To see what others are saying about this product you can click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Song School Latin in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

For Aaron

Son, you know how distracted and extremely busy I have been this past month.  With excuses put aside I am taking a few minutes to FINALLY post about our trip to the Mid South Homeschool Convention.  Sorry it’s taken so long.  I know how anxious you have been to show the world the picture of you and your friend, Tim Hawkins!  So here it is….

A few weeks ago we are blessed to be able to attend the Mid South Homeschool Convention in Memphis, TN.  It was a great time of encouragement and refreshing for our family.  My parents drove from Northwest Arkansas to meet us there.  This was their first opportunity to attend a homeschool conference.  On Thursday evening we took them to the vendor hall.  There were hundreds of vendors.  We saw Chuck Black, author of The Kingdom Series and spent some time visiting with his wife.  We  stopped by the booth of Todd Wilson, The Family Man.  We met with the Lewis Family from Homeschool Enrichment.  We browsed through booths by Answers In Genesis, Apologia, Vision Forum, Doorposts, Lamplighter Publishing, Rainbow Resource Center, Switched on Schoolhouse and dozens more. 

Friday morning my parents spent some quality time with the children and took them to the Memphis Zoo.    They had a blast with their grandparents. Here are a couple of their favorite pictures.

Dana and I had a leisurely breakfast together and then spent the day attending seminars.   Our first seminar was Homeschoolers:  Ordinary World Changers by Jonathan Lewis, editor of Homeschool Enrichment.  Being a homeschool graduate, Jonathan encouraged parents who are making a difference in this world by the discipleship of their children.  The statistics he presented were staggering.  It is abundantly clear that God is doing a work within the homeschool community for such a time as this!

Mark Hamby from Lamplighter Publishers was the next speaker we saw.  He spoke on The Education of a Child – The Wisdom of Fenelon.  I had heard this seminar before on CD but enjoyed it much better in person.  Lamplighter Publishers is doing an amazing work with godly classic literature.  Many of our all time favorite books and audio dramas come from Lamplighters.

After shopping at the vendor hall some more and enjoying lunch together we heard Doug Philips from Vision Forum.  His topic was The Family Table.  It was an excellent reminder to keep doing the things we are already doing as a family.

After my parent brought the children back to the Marriot we all headed to Applebee’s for an early dinner.  Abigail snapped this photo right before we left. 

After dinner we took the whole family to go see Dr. Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis.  He spoke on Answers for the Most asked Questions about Creation, Evolution, and Genesis.  Dr. Ham is absolutely brilliant in apologetics.  This was the second time we were blessed to hear him speak in person. 

We topped off the evening laughing with Tim Hawkins.  If you need to add some humor to your day, look him up.  This was a highlight for my boys.  Of course we stuck around to make sure Aaron and Andrew got a chance to meet him and get his autograph.  I could not think of a better way to end the conference.