Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Grammar for Writers Review

How do you feel about teaching grammar? Some homeschooling families study grammar every year while others never do a formal study of grammar, but teach grammar concepts through writing. Others are in between. I think most of us agree that helping our students become good writers is our end goal, and we hope that all those grammar workbooks will help get them to that point.

Grammar for Writers is a new program published by Compass Classroom for high school (and possibly middle school) students that is intended to make students into better writers through grammar study. I have been using Grammar for Writers twice a week for several months now with two high school students that I tutor. These students  have done little formal grammar study in the past. Although their writing is creative and the ideas they try to convey may be good, their sentence structure and organization of ideas within an essay is very weak, characterized by incomplete sentences and awkward wording.

Grammar for Writers is a very easy course to use and teach. Each lesson begins with a 10-15 minute video lecture by the author, Jonathan Rogers, PhD. The accompanying coursebook (available for purchase as a separate workbook or included in PDF form with the course) includes a lesson summary for each lesson and a quiz (practice exercises) for most lessons. We have found that lessons take around 30-45 minutes for video, exercises, and discussion. At 2 lessons a week, the 41 lessons will take us a little over a semester to complete.

My students enjoyed watching the video lessons. After the teacher explains the concept, he gives examples of that part of speech (participles, infinitive phrases, etc.) in sentences, giving the students hints on how to locate and identify the target word or phrase and understand what part of the sentence the phrase modifies. Several examples are given of confusing sentences and the student is taught why the wording is awkward and how to revise the sentence to make it clearer.

After watching the lessons, the girls completed the corresponding quiz, then we went over each exercise together, both correcting and discussing the choices they made. The majority of these practice exercises required rewriting sentences to make them more clear.
The girls found the assignments very challenging. (Even I found them challenging at times!) However, I feel that the process was extremely valuable in teaching them to be better writers. Every grammar construction taught was immediately put into use and they could see the importance of choosing words carefully and assembling them into sentences in an intentional way. Often, each student would change the target sentence differently, allowing us to discuss which final result sounded best.


I really like the Grammar for Writers course and wish it had been available a few years ago when my daughter was in high school. It is the only program I have used that really integrates a thorough education in grammar concepts with writing. I'm looking forward to seeing improvement in my students' writing skills! The streaming format is great for us, because it's so easy to use anywhere...on a phone, tablet, or computer.

Want to know where to buy Grammar for Writers? It's available for purchase in download, streaming and/or DVD formats at Compass Classroom. BUT, my favorite way to access Compass Classroom courses is through their Compass Classroom Membership. At only $29 a month (first month free) for streaming access to over 22 complete courses, this membership is a total bargain! We have used most of these courses and have loved every single one.

I received free access to this course in exchange for my honest review.

Compass Classroom

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Compass Classroom Sale!

Compass Classroom Back to School Sale 2019

Some of my FAVORITE homeschool materials have come from Compass Classroom. I was first introduced to Compass Classroom years ago through the Visual Latin Program. This video-based program is FUN! Try it out for free with 6 FREE Visual Latin Lessons!

We have also used Dave Raymond's American History, Word UP!, Economics for Everybody, Grammar of Poetry, and parts of Old Western Culture: Greeks. (Although my daughter has graduated from high school, I'm planning to finish this course on my own. It is SO interesting!) The video-based lessons for each of these programs are easy to use and my daughter has loved each one.

This is a good chance to check into these courses, since Compass Classroom's back-to-school sale is going on right now. Honestly, the best deal is the Classroom membership, which offers access to most of the courses for only $29 a month.

Compass Course Subscriptions

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ellie Claire Devotional Journals

The beginning of a new year is when we all think about adding new routines to our lives and keeping a regular Bible and devotional reading time is on the New Year's resolution list for many of us. Over the past few years, I've found Bible journaling to be a meaningful practice. I love reading scripture and recording my thoughts and prayers in the margins. Before I had a journaling Bible, I used a separate journal. These  Ellie Claire Devotional Journals are a variation on quiet time journaling, with a dated devotional book and journal in one. I was able to review three of these journals.

 Each of these lovely devotional journals features a beautiful cover, decorated pages, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic band closure. The 7x9" size is larger than the typical devotional book, allowing plenty of room for my own journaling. The 365 readings are dated for each day of the year, offering a bit of motivation to keep up the daily habit to keep up with the schedule! The readings for each book are focused on a single theme, but are written by various authors. Each includes a Bible verse, a short prayer, and some include related quotes from other authors or from songs and hymns. The daily reading fills half the page, with the rest of the page lined for responding to the devotional thoughts, writing out prayers, or whatever else comes to mind that day. I plan to use this as a daily "thankful" list as well journaling my thoughts and prayers.

Peace Begins With Me has an aqua, marble-look cover and page borders. Just opening the book gives me a peaceful feeling. Who isn't craving more peace in this stressful society? This volume points the reader toward God's Word and praising him as a means of finding peace in her heart and relationships.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus begins each day with a quote from a hymn or song and the devotional passages encourage the reader to turn toward Jesus, trusting him with our lives each and every day. The pink borders and flowery decor are very girly. I think this is the one that I will be using in 2019!

The Earth is the Lord's and Everything in It focuses on God's wonderful creation. This is perfect for nature and animal lovers (like my daughter), who will love the reminders that God's hand can be seen all around us in the wonders of the natural world. Peacocks and flowers embellish each page.

Just opening these devotional journals makes me happy! I love pretty things and the beauty and exceptional quality of these books will make my devotional time even more special. I'm looking forward to adding this to my morning quiet time. One or two of these books will be given as Christmas gifts, and I'm sure the recipients will love them as well.

I received these devotional journals in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Ellie Claire Art Journals (Review)

I'm excited to share with you some absolutely beautiful journals by Ellie Claire that I was recently sent to review. All three exude quality and elegance, featuring textured cloth-bound covers with pages for journaling, coloring, lettering, and doodling. The paper is heavy weight enough to allow use with markers or even paint. (I can't use these mediums on my thin Bible pages.)

The Illustrated Word is an illuminated Bible coloring journal that features both color reproductions and coloring pages reproduced from medieval illuminated manuscripts. This one is perfect for people who love intricate coloring designs. I've found that I enjoy praying and meditating while coloring.

Illuminate Your Story Journal has a ribbon bookmark, a keepsake pocket inside the back cover, an elastic pen holder on the spine, and an elastic closure. This book has step by step directions for drawing an entire alphabet of illuminated letters just like those found in ancient manuscripts. The step-by step instructions are fool-proof! Blank journal pages with inspiring quotes are interspersed with the instructional drawing pages.

Faith and Lettering Journal is my very favorite of the three. I've been using a journaling Bible for the past year, but don't have much skill or confidence in my lettering skills. This journal is an instructional manual for letters, flourishes, banners, and other doodles with plenty of blank, lined, and grid pages for practicing. It is also a traditional journal that includes both blank pages and pages with small inspirational quotes like "Fear not, I am with you." There are several completed decorative quotes for tracing and copying--a great way to develop confidence before actually drawing in a Bible.

I really love the "pro tips" that are scattered through the book. I learned that ovals are more pleasing to the eye than circles, so calligraphic letters and flourishes should use ovals. Another pro tip offers the suggestion to draw containers to hold large quotes, titles, or lists. I know that my artistic confidence will grow as I use this journal.

Any one of these art journals would make an awesome creative outlet, quiet time journal, or Christmas gift!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Lots of changes in our home in the past months! Emily graduated in May. Our cover school had a lovely ceremony planned by the students and held at "Burritt on the Mountain," a historical home and park with views overlooking the city. She spent much of her summer doing an FBI internship. She was thrilled to have this opportunity, since she's hoping to have a career in the FBI eventually.

In August, she moved off to the University of North Alabama. She's loving college life, making many new friends, and doing well with her classes so far. She started with plans to major in psychology, but will probably change her major to criminal justice. Since she's only an hour from home, she has been back about every other weekend.

I'm finding myself tutoring every morning for three different homeschooling families, so I haven't left the teaching/homeschooling life behind yet!

Monday, November 6, 2017

ESV Illuminated Bible Review

#ESVIlluminatedBible  #FlyBy 

One of the latest trend in Bibles is journaling Bibles. Journaling Bibles vary in their translation and format, but generally have wide side margins for making notes, writing out favorite verses, or decorating with designs and pictures. Some have printed designs on some pages for coloring. This allows the reader to react to and relate with the text while reading in whatever way inspires and spiritually nourishes the reader.

The new ESV Illuminated Bible: Art Journaling Edition is a beautiful option in the world of journaling Bibles. It uses the ESV translation with a single column format on cream paper and features lovely gold embellishments in the margins and a blue ribbon bookmark for an elegant appearance.

The ESV Illuminated Bible comes in a sturdy slipcover featuring the same design as the fabric bound gold embellished book cover. 

I really like the cream paper that this Bible uses. The color is easier on the eyes than a bright white. Although the pages are fairly thin, as most Bibles are, they are thick enough that the print doesn't show through the back side of the page too much. I always find that distracting in Bibles with very thin pages. The gold embellishments do show through somewhat, and I'm sure that any reader added notes or drawing in ink would show through to some extent as well.

I received the navy version for review, but this Bible is also available in green, burgundy, or leather bindings. If you are looking for a new Bible, a new way to interact with scripture, or a great gift idea, the ESV Illuminated Bible might be a great option! 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this item for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Disney Fun

Last month, we enjoyed a fun trip to Disney World. This trip was a little different from our typical family trip since my girls brought along a friend and a boyfriend. We visited just after Irma blew through, but, in typical Disney style, the trip was as magical as always.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mermaid Costumes

Still looking for a Halloween costume? Do you have a little mermaid that needs a new tail? Mermaid costumes are available in my Mystic Cove Mermaid etsy shop and I ship all orders out in 1-2 days!


The easy to walk in skirts are new this year. If  your mermaid would like to use the tail year-round for costume and for swimming, the swimmable mermaid tails are also a great option (although harder to walk in).


Monday, January 23, 2017

Christmas at the Beach

We spent Christmas at the Beach with my parents, 3 sisters, and their families. It was a big crowd and lots of fun!