Thursday, July 31, 2014

N is for Nature Trail

We took advantage of an unseasonably cool afternoon this week to visit a local nature trail and city park. Our kids have always enjoyed this trail because of the fun features…a covered bridge and pond, a cabin (replica of an early homestead at the site), and old “stuff" like this plow, and a even the remains of a still! I love it because it’s such a peaceful place to walk!


blogging through the alphabet sm.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spellbinders Celebra’tions Collection (Review)

Spellbinders® Celebra'tions Collection!

Emily and I were able to try out some products from the Spellbinders Celebra’tions Collection. This line of crafting products is designed to produce beautiful results every time. We received a variety of diecut papers, rubberstamped pieces, color-coordinated card stock, and thread along with clear instructions to make a gift tag and card. These were very easy to put together, and would be a good introduction to crafting for the non-crafty person. For those of you with lots of creativity, the Spellbinders Collection offers a large variety of papers, inks, stamps, dies and embellishments for card making and scrapbooking.

Gift Tag with Bag



“Celebrate” Card



I received this product free as part of  the Purex Insiders team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lightning Literature (Schoolhouse Review)


CompanyHewitt Homeschooling

Products:  Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid 19th Century  Student's Guide ($29.95)
Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid Teacher's Guide ($2.95)

When students are approaching high school age, it’s time to think seriously about incorporating classic literature into their studies. When my children were young, we read and discussed many many books. Many of these were “classic” children’s literature, but were still easy to teach. Older students need to start reading meatier books that can be more difficult to teach without outside help, though. Lightning Literature and Composition is a wonderful program that makes teaching classic literature easy for the homeschool parent. Writing essays, fictional works, and poetry is also a focus of each course. Currently, Lightning Literature offers upper level courses for 7th grade through high school and elementary level courses for first and second grade.

Since Emily has been studying World History, I chose the British Early-Mid 19th Century Guides in order to coordinate the subjects somewhat. This particular guide can be used for any high school student, but is recommended for students in 10th-12th grades, or those who have already completed a Lightning Literature high school guide. (Emily had completed a small portion of  the 9th grade American Lit. course, and will be entering 9th grade) This is a one-semester course that teaches the following works of literature:

  • William Blake (selected poems; text in this Guide)
  • Jane Austen (novel: Pride and Prejudice)
  • Sir Walter Scott (novel: Ivanhoe)
  • Thomas Carlyle ("Essay on Scott," text in this Guide)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (selected poems; text in this Guide)
  • Mary Shelley (novel: Frankenstein)
  • Charlotte Bronte (novel: Jane Eyre)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray ("Rebecca and Rowena," text in this Guide)

For this review, we completed William Blake’s poems and read Pride and Prejudice.

The William Blake Unit included

  • A 2-page biography of Blake
  • A short introduction to Blake’s work and his poetry books Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
  • Questions to think about “While You Read”
  • 8 poems
  • Comprehension questions for the poems
  • Literary Lesson on “tone”
  • Discussions of each poem and its tone
  • 6 writing exercises (It is suggested that the student choose one exercise from poetry and short story units and 2 exercises from the novel units; The assignments included writing a 12 line poem describing an event in nature and using a strong sense of tone, analyzing another of Blake’s poems, and writing a pair of descriptions for the same event or object, but using a different tone for each.

The Jane Austen Unit included:

  • A short biography of Jane Austen
  • “While You Read” questions
  • Comprehension questions for Pride and Prejudice
  • Literary Lesson on “characterization”
  • 6 writing exercises to choose from, all related to characterization
  • A mini lesson on Romanticism

We thoroughly enjoyed working through these units. We had some great discussions about the poetry (I really liked the selections that were included), and Emily enjoyed writing her own poem.

We spent several weeks on the Jane Austen unit, because it took Emily that long to read the book. (I read it too, since I had never read Pride and Prejudice and my older daughter has been telling me for years that I should read it!) I try to read whatever Emily is studying anyway, but if I hadn’t read the book, the questions in the guide would still have enabled me to discuss it with her. Emily didn’t love Pride and Prejudice, but she did keep disappearing with the book when she was supposed to be doing other things! The comprehension questions allowed me to see that she was following the story. (Actually, she often knew more of the answers than I did!) She enjoys writing, so the assignments were not difficult for her, although, as always, she balked at the revision part of the process. I was glad to see that this course didn’t seem too hard for her, even though she’s a little younger than the recommended age.

Lightning Literature is very parent friendly. The Teacher’s Guide (88 3-hole punched pages that we put into a notebook) includes answers to the discussion questions, tips on grading papers, a suggested schedule for semester or year, discussion questions and activity ideas, and the same writing assignments that are in the student book. The Student Book is easy to pick up and use, with no planning required.

I like that lessons are taught throughout the course on topics such as imagery, persuasive writing, setting, and characterization, and that the writing assignments require the students to make use of the technique for the unit.

I think that Lightning Literature and Composition is a good solid course that will prepare students well for college. In fact, I very often recommend it to others. Other Crew members reviewed other levels of Lightning Literature and Composition, so click the banner to read more about this product!

Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Dial Coconut Water Body Wash (Giveaway)

Dial Coconut Water Body Wash is a newcomer to the family of Dial products. I was able to try out a free sample of this product, new in the stores just this month. This moisturizing body wash has a wonderful tropical scent. I just love body products that smell scrumptious, so I enjoyed washing with this. I didn’t particularly notice that it left my skin moisturized, but it did a good job as a shaving cream and left my skin smelling nice for hours.

Emily says that “it smells really good and made my hands feel soft. Now I want to wash more often!”




Would you like to win 2 free bottles of Coconut Water Body Wash?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango body wash in exchange for a product review. All opinions are my own.

The Eternal Argument (Schoolhouse Review)

The Eternal Argument

The Eternal Argument ($24.95), written by Robin Finley, and published by Analytical Grammar, is a unique guide to understanding literature from ancient times up to the present. The author’s premise is that all literature focuses on the “eternal argument.”  People throughout the ages have talked, argued, and even fought wars about this argument, which all comes back to how they see the world.

There are two basic worldviews: humanism, which is the belief that humans can, themselves, make the world better without a God, and theism, the belief that humans are inherently flawed and live best with rules handed down to them from a higher source, such as God. Throughout history, civilizations have tended to favor one side or the other. Interestingly, the prevailing worldview of society has swung back and forth through the ages, from the ancients, who lived by a faith in God (or gods) to the Greeks and Romans, who emphasized man’s ability to better himself and the world, to the middle ages, when adherence to high standards and authority was the focus, and so on. Literature not only reflects the author’s viewpoint, but reflects the worldview of each historical time period and how people of that time thought about themselves and their world.

The Eternal Argument explains that understanding this premise is the key to truly understanding literature as more than just “old books.” Analyzing the type of conflict in the book, and understanding the motivations of the protagonist and antagonist help the reader identify whether the author is promoting a theistic or humanistic viewpoint.

Robin Finley takes the reader on a journey throughout the ages, explaining the time periods and how historical events influenced the worldview of the people and vice versa. Did you ever wonder why the American Revolution and the French Revolution turned out so differently? It all depended on whether the people saw themselves as sinners that were subject to a higher law or as capable of bettering the world themselves. Finley chooses one book from each historical age, explaining how the story and characters reflect the age. She also provides a handy illustration/chart of the various historical ages and their time periods as a reference (since I’m not likely to remember exactly when the age of realism is vs. the romantic period)!

She then teaches literary vocabulary, the five elements of plot, the five conflicts in literature, and point of view. With these tools, a student is prepared to think more deeply about the books he reads.

Chapter 14 is entitled, “Now Let’s Apply All This to Books We’ve Discussed.” I love that! The author not only gives the reader the tools to analyze a book in various ways, then to draw a conclusion about which literary/historical period the book belongs in, but explains and gives multiple examples of what this analysis looks like. 17 different books are discussed in this chapter, giving the reader a resource to draw on when teaching these books.

I found The Eternal Argument to be a fascinating, enlightening, and very practical book and I will be sure to use it frequently as I teach high school level literature during the next few years. Emily enjoyed the book as well and we’ve found the discussion questions at the end of each chapters helpful. The author suggests that students and teachers read the book together, and it has sparked some good discussions so far. I will say that, even though the book is meant to be discussed, it is written directly to the parent or teacher and refers to “when you teach your students” frequently, so it was a little odd for a read-aloud to my student. Not a big issue, though.

The Eternal Argument is appropriate for reading and discussion with middle school ages and up and would make a great addition to the library of any English teacher, homeschooler, or adult reader.

Click to read Crew Reviews
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Looking Forward to High School

Emily will be starting high school this year. Although she’s my fourth child, the others all went to public school for high school, so I’m beginning a brand new adventure in homeschooling a high schooler. I’m excited about all the new things she (we) will learn and the new subjects to be tackled. I love comparing curricula and trying to pick the best ones for our family, so I am enjoying that process. Until now, a lot of what Emily has used were materials that I chose for my older children when they were in elementary and middle school. Suddenly, we are starting new since I haven’t had to purchase high school materials before now.

I am really  happy to have the opportunity to look at everything from a Christian rather than secular perspective. We’ve always done this, of course, but she’s getting to a maturity level now to dig deeper, to explore and develop her personal faith, to study apologetics. Several of the products we’ve reviewed recently have been wonderful (Veritas Press’s Omnibus, Progeny Press guides) and I’ve said to Emily, “If you were in public school, you wouldn’t be studying this book or historical event through a Biblical perspective.”

On the other hand, I’m a bit nervous. I have just four years to get her ready for college. Everything she does needs to be documented, credits need to be counted, and the subjects she studies need to somehow fit neatly into distinct courses. I’m not overly concerned about teaching any subject in particular, but I’m starting to think of activities we need to add—some group learning experiences, volunteer activities, and generally more outside/social activity. She is happy to be a homebody and needs to expand her world a bit!

We’re still firming up plans for the fall, but so far, she plans to take:

  • Biology (I plan to teach a group of homeschoolers using Apologia’s Biology course)
  • Geometry
  • English  I Literature
  • Late 19th-20th century world history
  • Spanish
  • Probably computer applications, PE, art, and/or Bible/apologetics as 1-semester electives

Do you have any tips or links for homeschooling for high school? I’m very open to advice!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

M is for Mermaid

I started a new business last spring-- sewing mermaid tails! These tails for dress-up and swimming have been very popular. Our guest room has been turned into “sewing central”, and I’ve been busy busy busy all summer keeping up with orders. Emily helps by flipping the swim suit tops right side out, but hasn’t decided if she’s motivated yet to actually learn to sew. I’m hoping that by next year I’ll have a “sewing buddy!”







blogging through the alphabet sm.

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms (Schoolhouse Review)

Flourish Book Review

Do you struggle with trying to “do it all?” And trying to do it all really well? Mary Jo Tate offers help for women in her new book, Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, published by Apologia Educational Ministries.

Flourish Book Review


Homeschool mothers can be very busy. In addition to raising and educating our children, we try to maintain a home, nourish a marriage, and volunteer outside the home. Many of us have jobs or own small businesses. Some of us are single mothers on top of everything else. Our society seems to tell us that we should be able to juggle all of these roles flawlessly, but real life tells us otherwise.

Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms is loaded with encouragement for the tired woman as well as practical tips for organizing and prioritizing her life and commitments. Each chapter concludes with thought provoking questions and calls to action  that will help the reader apply each topic to real life.

One of the first points that the author makes is no one can do everything well. Choices always have to be made about which demands are most important, and which ones can be allowed to slide for a season. One of the chapter-end tasks was to place circumstances into three categories:

  • Irreducible facts—what you can’t change
  • Non-reducible facts--what you won’t change
  • Preferences—what you can and will change

I found this very helpful to think about. For example, having a family member with a chronic health problem, or being a single parent are irreducible facts. Homeschooling or the choice to work outside the home may (or may not) be non-reducible facts. Choice of curriculum, living in a particular location, and school scheduling may be preferences that are open to change if necessary.

We need to do the best we can with our personal circumstances in an effort find peace in our lives. Setting priorities and looking objectively at our commitments can help us accomplish this.

Subsequent chapters address setting goals and planning, beginning with the “Big Goal,” down to yearly, monthly, and weekly goals, and daily to-do lists. The book even includes time logs to help you track where your time is really going and various forms to help with goal setting and self-evaluation.

Some of the topics discussed are:

  • Setting boundaries
  • Adjusting attitudes (not just the kids’, but our own!)
  • Homeschooling
  • Making memories with your children
  • Managing your home
  • Single parenting (and how to reach out to single parents)
  • Starting and running a home business

Because the author is a single mother who homeschools her children and runs a home business, I really felt that she addressed all the main areas of my own life. I’ve read a lot of wonderful books about homeschooling, but few if any that addressed the issues of homeschooling, single parenting and working at the same time. I know I haven’t read a homeschooling book that even addresses the possibility that a husband isn’t part of the picture. After my husband left me a few years ago, I became painfully of how difficult it could be to do it all alone. It’s wonderful to read of success stories of others that were able to continue homeschooling and keep going, albeit not with an ideal scenario.

At the same time, I know this book would be very helpful to any mom who is struggling to balance her priorities and time and who is looking for organizational tips and encouragement. The chapter on home business is wonderful, providing ideas for the woman who is just looking for business ideas to one who has a business who needs help with marketing, setting prices, and keeping better records. The chapter on homeschooling didn’t provide me with much new information, but would be very helpful to a newer homeschooler, with ideas on scheduling, reasons to homeschool, and homeschooling methods. I loved her description of a “typical day,” complete with interruptions and failures. Those perfect days only happen in the magazines!

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms sells for $15 and would be a great addition to any mom’s bookshelf.


Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

HomeSchoolPiano (Schoolhouse Review)

Homeschool Piano Review

Are you interested in piano lessons for your children, but the cost is prohibitive? Or is the time/travel for driving to lessons an inconvenience? HomeSchoolPiano offers online piano lessons for beginning to intermediate students. All you need is a computer to watch the lessons, a printer to print out the lesson books, and a keyboard or piano.  The program can be used with any age student.

We received HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books for review. This $299 program offers lifetime access for up to 5 students to all program components—Core Piano, and 3 “books.” Lessons can be viewed online or downloaded. Many lessons include online quizzes, and student progress is tracked.Homeschool Piano Review

Four levels of HomeSchoolPiano are available:

  • Core Piano
  • Book 1
  • Book 2
  • Book 3

Core Piano teaches all the basics—33 lessons worth, from finger numbers and how to sit at the piano to chords, key signatures, and major and minor 5-finger scales. Absolute beginners to the piano should start here before starting the Books. Students may access these individual lessons when needed to review concepts. (I went back and watched a couple of lessons when I had a question about a concept while working through Book 2.) Most lessons are 5-10 minutes long.

Homeschool Piano Review

Each book contains 6 units. Within each unit are 7 lessons—technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, song, improvisation, and bonus. . A downloadable lesson book for each book is included. I printed all the books and put them in a binder before we began. Some lessons are video-only, but many make use of printed materials. P1040488

The early lessons teach fundamental skills that prepare the student for the actual piece of music taught in the “song” lesson. For example, the rhythm lessons have measures of music to be clapped, chanted, and or played.  Each improvisation section includes multiple pages of exercises that help the student make alterations in the song. Often, music scores are provided for the student to write out new melodies or rhythms.

Once the song is mastered, the improvisation lesson offers ideas for embellishing the song. An optional “bonus” lesson is also included. This lesson teaches more concepts or techniques, and is ideal for the more advanced learner.

Everything is presented in small, incremental steps that make the process easy.

The lesson screen shows the teacher in a box at the side, the keyboard that he is using (you can see his hands on the keyboard as he plays) and a virtual keyboard, just above the teacher’s keyboard that lights each note in red and labels the note name as he plays.


The program can be watched on tablets and iPads, as well as computers  This  makes it  convenient to sit at the piano for the lessons and play along with the instructor. It’s also not a problem to use a computer in a different room, watch the lesson, then move to the piano for practice time.

Homeschool Piano emphasizes that learning the piano takes effort and practice. Students usually take 18 months or more to progress through all the materials. Lessons can be viewed as many times as needed until a concept is mastered.

When I learned to play the piano, I was taught to read music. I learned the notes in the sheet music and on the piano. I learned timing, dynamic markings, key signatures, and other concepts that were needed to play the songs. That’s pretty much where my education ended. So, now, I can play written music, but I can’t play by ear (other than a simple melody line and trial and error to figure out what “sounds good.”) I don’t know how to improvise—to make up my own melodies or to alter other songs. For this reason, I was intrigued by the emphasis on improvisation in HomeSchool Piano and excited to try it out.

I started in Book 2. The actual music was very easy for me at this level. Some of the music concepts were very easy. But I learned about chord theory and different ways to dress up and change a song once I had learned it. This was a lot of fun! After seriously neglecting any kind of piano practice for years, I’m really enjoying my lessons and practicing new techniques.

Emily started in Book 1. Again, the music was a little easy for her, although she did need the review after having not played the piano for many months. She’s enjoying having a teacher that’s not Mom. She tells me that she finds it very helpful the way the teacher breaks everything down into small steps, shows her what to do, and has her do something physical (snap or clap) while she is learning.

We found the lessons very beneficial because this approach is so different from traditional piano lessons. In every lesson, Willie first teaches the basics. Then he encourages the student to play around with the concepts—to experiment with different notes as you practice the rhythm exercises, to “mash” two songs together, to alter the notes and rhythms of a song, and so on. If you or your child has had some piano experience, I think you will find this a wonderful way to take lessons or to supplement existing lessons. If you are totally new to piano lessons, it might be a bit harder to begin without the feedback of a live teacher. But go read more Crew Reviews for HomeSchoolPiano because many other families are trying the program out who don’t have prior experience, and they can give you a better idea than I can of how the program works for beginners.


HomeSchoolPiano’s “Success Package” which includes unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano, including downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music, for up to 5 students sells for $299.  (Payment plan of $99.97 for 3 months is also available.)

Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

L is for Lack of Motivation

L is for “lack of motivation.” Or maybe I should say, “lazy!”  Do you have any children that just don’t seem to really care about their schoolwork….or chores….or improving themselves in any way? 

I’m not this way at all. When I was in school, I worked for good grades. At home, I worked for my parents’ affirmation. I always wanted others to think well of me. Two of my girls are the same way. Frankly, they were easy to raise because they are like me. I understood them. I didn’t have to keep on their backs to get things done. Not that their rooms didn’t look like disaster areas much of the time or that we never had issues to deal with. But they were good students, and when we had a problem area, it was easy to provide some “external motivation” through rewards and punishments.

My son’s school or work performance wasn’t always great. He wasn’t as motivated by grades and is somewhat disorganized but he has always had many interests and had a lot of initiative in some areas. When he got a job outside the home, he was a very hard worker and was promoted quickly.

Child #4 has thrown me for a loop, though. She doesn’t care about grades. She doesn’t really even care if she passes to the next grade. Pleasing me? Eh. It’s hard to even find any external rewards that will motivate her toward excellence in her work. She’s inclined to do just the bare minimum (which in many cases doesn’t begin to meet the standards I expect.) She can be very pleasant, cheerful, and even enthusiastic, but when it comes to following through, she’s happy to just float along with half-finished chores and school assignments. Very frustrating!


blogging through the alphabet sm.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

K is for Kitchen Improvements

I have been looking at my dated florescent kitchen fixture for a while, thinking that it would be nice to have something a little prettier. It was just “blah,” plus the plastic cover was broken and cracked and held together with tape. When one of the florescent tubes burned out last week, necessitating a trip to the home improvement store anyway, my son volunteered to change out the  whole light fixture instead.

This is “before.” You can see the outline of the square fixture on the ceiling.


My new pretty chandelier out of the box.


The finished results. I loved the updated look.P1040486

But then the shiny brass chandelier over the table didn’t match. So I bought a replacement for it, too.


And here’s the second new fixture. I’m thankful that my son was willing to change out the fixtures for me and happy about the new look!


blogging through the alphabet sm.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Moving Beyond the Page (Schoolhouse Review)

Homeschool Curriculum for Creative, Hands-On, and Gifted Learners

Company: Moving Beyond the Page

Products Reviewed:

Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration

These units are designed for ages 12-14.

Moving Beyond the Page is a preschool through middle school curriculum geared for gifted learners. Each age level includes 10-12 individual units for the core subjects of language arts, science, and social studies. Each of these units is self-contained and can stand alone, although the program is designed so that the concepts the child will learn are sequential within an age level and are best studied in order. Additionally, many of the science, social studies, and language arts units coordinate with each other, reinforcing concepts across subject lines.

What makes Moving Beyond the Page different from other curricula?

Each unit includes a guide with reading assignments, web links, comprehension and application questions, hands-on activities, and research assignments.  Novels and fascinating science and history books form the meat of the program, rather than dry textbooks. Many units also include science kits or DVD’s that are beneficial for presenting information in different ways and appealing to children with different learning styles. Activities and questions that promote critical thinking and creativity are helpful for average children as well as those who are academically gifted.

Animal Farm Study

Each of the novels haves have different focuses. For Animal Farm, the emphasis was on grammar, particularly parts of speech and the proper use of pronouns and their antecedents. The concepts of writing friendly letters and business letters were taught and practiced. The literary elements of topic, plot, and theme were reviewed. Comprehension questions were included for each chapter, and the parallels between this plot and the Russian Revolution was discussed. The daily activities were always different, ranging from writing letters to grammar worksheets, to analysis of the various characters and their motivations. Most of this unit involved simple pencil and paper work, which is what Emily prefers. Emily enjoyed Animal Farm and loved doing this study. She completed it independently, with little oversight from me. All I had to do was check her work and engage her in some discussion about the book and concepts.

Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration Study

Emily loved the core texts for this course: America, The Story of US (DVD) and We Were There, Too: Young People in US History. These two resources are used throughout the 12-14 year old social studies curriculum and I recommend them to supplement any US history course. The DVD is a History Channel mini-series and is very interesting. We Were There, Too tells short stories about real boys and girls throughout history who were witnesses or participants in a large variety of historical events and walks of life—suffragists, mill workers, the Civil War burning of Atlanta, the Alamo, and so on. Emily didn’t just read the assigned chapters in this book-she disappeared for hours at a time reading the various stories!


During this study, Emily analyzed the reasons that many immigrants left their homes. She practiced note-taking with the DVD while learning about railroads, western settlement, native Americans, and cowboys. She wrote her opinions about whether industrialists like Carnegie were innovators or robber barons. She wrote slogans encouraging citizens to do their parts to support World War I. As her final project, she completed a scrapbook for a fictional immigrant, with ticket stubs, photos, captions, etc. that chronicled his life.

Each of the units required about an hour of time each day for 3-4 weeks to complete. We reviewed other units from Moving Beyond the Page last year (at the 11-13 year old level) that took significantly more time to complete, so it appears that the units do vary somewhat in their intensity. We found this to be just right. Emily maintained her enthusiasm throughout the studies and would like to do more.


Working on her Immigrant Scrapbook

Online Guides vs. Printed Guides

We used an online guide for Animal Farm and a physical guide for Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration, so I was able to compare the two. Each has its own unique advantages.

The online guide is a little cheaper to buy. Your purchase provides 3 months of access to the guide. There is a student view, which Emily used on her computer, and a parent/teacher view, which I displayed on my computer. (It’s easy to switch back and forth between the two.) The parent view gives answers, cues the parent into the concepts being taught, and suggests additional questions for discussion. There are many reading comprehension and activity pages that need to be printed, but the directions must be read online. I printed out all of the printable pages before Emily started and put them in a binder for her, but they could be printed as needed. Some lessons have several activity options for the student to choose between, so I did end up printing more pages than we actually used.  Both guides include a lot of online links to follow for additional information. In this area, the online guide had an advantage with its clickable links.

The physical guide is a spiral-bound book that includes teaching material, photographs and pictures, activity directions, workbook pages, and internet links. The parent material is all at the back of the book. Emily preferred this format even though she had to type in all the web links. I think it’s just easier to pick up a book rather than to log onto the computer. Because the activity pages are integrated into the book, and copying is not permissible, the book is consumable and cannot be used with a second child.


I think that Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is wonderful. I love that one can purchase individual units, making it easy to use as a full program or as a supplement to another curriculum. Also the complete program would be a little expensive for us, personally, but we can easily afford to purchase several units to supplement other studies.

I love that it uses “real” books, hands-on activities, and encourages creativity. I love that the planning is all done for me and that the upper levels can be done without a lot of parent involvement. At 14, that’s the way Emily prefers to work. The book asks the “hard” questions, so I don’t necessarily have to, but she still has to think critically instead of “going through the motions.” These particular units provided just the right amount of hands-on activity for Emily. She gets burned out with too much cutting and pasting or lengthy projects, but small amounts are fun for her.

My only small concern about these units is that they are not reusable for multiple children in the family. The online units expire after 3 months (although I believe you can reuse them for a fee) and the printed books are workbooks. Some of the levels offer separate worksheets packet that can be purchased, but these don’t seem to be available for the older age groups. It would be really nice if permission were granted to copy some of the pages for use within a family as is the case with many homeschool products, especially since the book is part text, part workbook.. Since Emily is my youngest child, this isn’t an issue for me, but I think this would be a drawback if I had several children and knew that my investment in the curriculum would not extend to the whole family.

All in all, I think this is a fun, creative, and easy-to-use curriculum and I recommend it for any homeschool family looking for a creative, non-textbook curriculum.


Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.