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Books About Math for Pi Day

March 14th is National Pi Day, the perfect day to celebrate mathematics! If you want to learn more about pi, including its meaning and history, here are some books worth checking out, both for children and adults. Perfect for homeschoolers, or anyone who is fascinated by irrational numbers.

March 14th is Pi Day, the perfect day to celebrate mathematics! If you want to learn more about pi, including its meaning and history, here are some books worth checking out, both for children and adults. Perfect for homeschoolers, or anyone who is fascinated by irrational numbers. #math #piday

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Elephant Toothpaste – Fun Kids Science Experiment

Tired of the same old baking soda and vinegar science experiment?  Here is a cute experiment for making elephant toothpaste that makes lots of colored foam and is fun for kids. It uses stuff you probably have sitting around the house anyway, and while it is not as explosively fast as baking soda and vinegar it produces quite a bit of colored foam.

elephant toothpaste


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High School Record Keeping for Homeschoolers

high school homeschooling

Some parents are intimidated by the idea of homeschooling through high school, but it really isn’t that much different from the younger grades.  I have graduated two children from 12th grade so far, and they have had no trouble getting into and succeeding in college. From my point of view the one big difference between high school and younger grades is that in high school you have to keep good records of schoolwork.

High School record keeping for homeschoolers is important, because as a homeschooling parent you are also serving as an administrator and guidance counselor. At the end of high school will need to produce information for transcripts and college applications, and good high school record keeping will make that whole process much easier.

Labor Day Books for Teens and Tweens

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Labor Day is the traditional end the summer season, but it means more than just the closing of the neighborhood pool. Labor Day actually has a fairly bloody past, as it was started after U.S. workers died during the Pullman Strike in 1894.

Labor Day Books for Teens and Tweens - Books to help kids learn about the labor movement and its place in U.S. history

This is an era in history which is sometimes glossed over in history at school, so books can help make it come alive. Much of the earliest efforts in the labor movement focused on the abuses of child labor, which is easy for kids to identify with and understand.  Check out these Labor Day Books for Teens and Tweens for some excellent age appropriate reading about the labor movement.

Catapult Engineering Academy Review

Last school year my 10th grade son took an engineering class from Catapult Engineering Academy. The class was Introduction to Solid Modeling and Engineering Design, and was my son’s favorite class of the year. The 2014-2015 school year was the first year this was offered, so I wanted to write a review to help other homeschool parents learn about the classes.

About the Program

The classes offered are based on the Engineering Academy at Hoover High School, in Alabama, where the same curriculum has been used in a traditional school setting since 2004. The idea is to take these classes and transfer them to online course so that more students can benefit from them. Right now there are two classes offered, the Solid Modeling class my son took and an Engineering Computations class which teaches MatLab and Labview. Eventually two more classes will be added, Engineering Instrumentation & Analysis and Engineering Design & Entrepreneurship. The classes are designed to prepare students for the kind of classes they will encounter in a college engineering curriculum.

There is a huge push to encourage high school students to learn about and consider STEM careers. Students with STEM skills are in high demand in the workforce, and the jobs tend to be well paying.  But preparing for these careers can be hard for homeschoolers because of the technical knowledge required.  These classes help provide access to engineering curriculum and trained teachers with expertise in the subject matter.

Solid Works Screen Shot - Catapult Engineering Academy

Top 10 US History Movies

Top 10 U. S. History Movies - great movies for learning about history for teens and adults

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Fourth of July is the perfect time to enjoy a movie about U.S. History. Movies are a great way to learn about history – and much more interesting than reading a textbook. Movies are a great way to bring history alive and spark interest, both for older kids and adults. Here is a list top 10 U.S. History movies, arranged chronologically, that will help you appreciate the country’s history and remember some of the challenges that the country has faced.

Roman Roads – The Aeneid Curriculum Review

I received a copy of The Aeneid to review, all opinions are my own.

Last year I reviewed The Greeks homeschool curriculum from Roman Roads, and I loved it!  So this year I was excited to review the next installment of Roman Roads Western Culture series, The Aeneid.


The idea of the curriculum is to have an integrated Humanities curriculum which covers literature, history, philosophy and more all in one course.  The Aeneid is the first unit in The Romans course, and it studies the great classic from Vergil, a poem which shaped and influenced Roman society and Western culture.

Books about Brendan the Navigator

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St. Patrick’s Day is approaching fast, and that means lots of attention on St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.  But St. Patrick is far from the only famous Irish saint, so I wanted to point out another very interesting and yet under appreciated medieval Irish Saint, Brendan the Navigator.

Books about Brendan the Navigator - another famous Irish Saint who doesn't get as much attention as St. Patrick.

Photo Credits: Modified from by MrCharco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons and By anon.  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What did Brendan do and why is he is he called the Navigator? Well, according to tradition, sometime between 512-530 he took a voyage in a small Irish leather boat, called a currach, and traveled across the ocean to a new land.  His adventure was widely know all over Europe, and the manuscripts describing it date back to as early as the 900s.

In fact Christopher Columbus used Brendan’s story to support his idea that he could sail west and discover land. After Columbus’ voyage and the discovery of the Americas many people began to believe that Brendan had actually reached North America, and was the first European to reach the new world, centuries before even the Vikings.

Word Up Vocabulary Program Review

I recently had the chance to review the new vocabulary program from Compass Classrom, WordUp, and found it a fun way to learn Greek and Latin word roots. This program is a dvd or downloadable program designed for ages 10 and up.  I had my 15 year old son try it out to help him expand his vocabulary and get ready for standardized tests.


The set I received consists of 10 lessons, each of which features a 12-15 minute video starring Dwane Thomas.  Thomas is amusing and makes a subject like vocabulary that can be kind of boring fun.  He narrates the video segments, but there are lots of different sets and backgrounds, and Thomas plays different characters during the segments which keeps things interesting, without being too silly. 

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

I recently had the chance to review a high school language program from Middlebury Interactive Languages and I thought it was an excellent way for a student to learn a foreign language.

Middlebury Interactive Languages ReviewForeign language has always been the most difficult subject for me to cover in homeschooling, and I have tried many different things over the years.  Before this review started my 10th grade son had been doing French for two years, and during that time we had managed to (poorly) cover the material in a standard French I high school class.  So I jumped at the chance to review one of the Middlebury French Courses.

Middlebury has a quite a few classes available for children in grades K-12 in four different languages, Spanish, French, Chinese and German.  At the high school level the French offerings include standard High School French at Levesl I, II, and III, French I and II at a Fluency level, and AP French. The fluency classes are designed to have more of a discovery based approach than the standard classes. I received the first semester of Standard High School French II for my son.

High School level courses cost $119 per semester for independent learning and an additional $175 per semester with a teacher.  The teacher provides support and feedback on speaking and writing assignments.  We did not receive the teacher support.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

I have found that as my son gets older we are using more online and video curriculum. There are so many more things available for homeschoolers online than there were just a few years ago! So I was interested to review the new courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate.

Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewStandard Deviants has been making educational videos for over 20 years, and now they have put them together into the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses.  These classes cover a huge variety of subjects for students in grades 3 and up, which includes:

  • Arithmetic – Grades 3+
  • Fundamental Math – Grades 4+
  • Earth Science – Grades 6+
  • Nutrition – Grades 6+
  • Algebra – Grades 7+
  • Biology – Grades 7+
  • Chemistry – Grades 9+
  • English Comp. – Grades 9+
  • U.S. History – Grades 9+
  • AP Biology – Grades 11+
  • AP Chemistry – Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. Government & Politics – Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. History – Grades 11+
  • AP Eng. Composition – Grades 11+

These classes are designed to be complete courses that use videos, quizzes and written activities to guide a student through the topic.

Daily Planner for Homeschoolers – My Student Log Book Review

My Student Logbook is a company owned by a homeschooling family that is trying to help homeschoolers organize and record their days.  I have been homeschooling for 15 years  now, and one thing I have found is always true is that the  more organized I am the more smoothly our homeschooling day runs. So I was glad to have the chance to review a Daily My Student Logbook.

My Student Logbook Review
I received the dated Vintage Map Logbook to use with my 10th grade son.  The company has lots of styles and covers to choose from, so you can have your student pick out a favorite.  The available covers include dinosaurs, butterflies and many other kid friendly designs.  In addition to the dated style that I received you can also order a downloadable pdf or an undated log book.  The planner book I received retails for $15, and is designed to be used by children in grades 2 and up.

Homeschool and College

642559_89524063When people find out we homeschool one of the things they are always curious about is college.  Many people know someone who has homeschooled for a few years, but homeschooling all the way through and sending a child to college is still unusual.  I have sent two kids to college from homeschooling, and have learned a lot.

One of the first decisions to make was what kind of college to apply to.  At first my daughter was planning to go to a community college for the first two years and save money.  Then she started attending the local community college part-time, and realized she wanted something different.  We live 45 minutes from the closest community college, and the drive gets tiring fast.  Every day she goes it takes at least 1 1/2 hours out of her day for the commute, more if the weather is bad.  Plus with the price of gas going up daily it isn’t as cheap as it seems at first.

Back to Homeschool – 10th Grade Curriculum

Summer is winding down, and it is time to start thinking about the new school year. This week I am participating in a Back To Homeschool blog hop with many other homeschool bloggers, to share our tips, ideas and encouragement for the new school year. One of the biggest parts of back to homeschool is deciding what curriculum to use. This year I only have one student, my son in 10th grade, and here are our curriculum plans.

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This year my son is studying biology. I am planning to use Biology from Miller & Levine. This is a classic text that is used in many of the public schools around here, and I was able to get a free copy last spring. I am not that great at biology, but my oldest is an Environmental Biology student at college, so she will help out if needed.

Our local homeschool coop is doing biology labs, so we will use that for the lab component. We will supplement with The Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments in some areas. I also want him to do an in-depth research project to enter in the Science Fair that our local science museum hosts. He is planning to do a study on stream pollution, with some help from his big sister.

Roman Roads: The Greeks Homeschool Curriculum Review

Roman Roads Media ReviewClassical education is something that has always interested me, because the Great Books of Western Civilization underlay so much of our culture.  So I was happy to get the chance to review a classical curriculum from Roman Roads Media.  Roman Roads Media is a company dedicated to publishing Classical Curriculum for use in homeschools.  They have quite a variety of curriculum, and the one I was able to review is Old Western Culture: The Greeks.  This is a comprehensive, year long, integrated humanities curriculum, which covers literature, history, philosophy, and art by studying the great works of Ancient Greece.  I love this program, and it is absolutely my favorite of all the homeschool resources I have reviewed this year!

About The Greeks

This program is designed for children in grades 8 and up.  This is a full-year long course which consists of four separate units, which are:

  • GREEKS: The Epics
  • GREEKS: Drama and Lyrics
  • GREEKS: The Histories
  • GREEKS: The Philosophers

Roman Roads Media Review
The course is available both as online streaming or as a series of DVDs.  I received the entire course online, and one unit on DVD so I could evaluate both.  I am going to talk mostly about the online version, and explain the differences between the two at the end.  The course is designed around a series of lectures from Wes Callihan, a well known classical educator who teaches online tutorials and has written extensively about the classics.  Each unit contains 12 lectures from Callahan, interspersed with various reading assignments, quizzes, exams, and papers.

Moving Beyond the Page – Secular Literature Based Homeschool Curriculum

Last year I reviewed two homeschool units from Moving Beyond the Page, and they were my favorite of all the products I used last year.  You can read my review from last year here.  So naturally when I had the chance to review some more units from them this year I jumped at the chance!  I received two units this year the Language Arts Package – Watership Down and the Science Package – A Dynamic Planet.

Moving Beyond the Page Review
Moving Beyond the Page is a secular literature based homeschool curriculum that uses challenging and engaging projects to encourage critical and creative thinking.  It includes unit based studies in Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. There are units designed for children from the ages of 6 to 14, and the units I reviewed have a suggested age range of 12-14.  The curriculum is available in both an online version or a physical version.

Veritas Press Self Paced Omnibus Curriculum Review

As my children have gotten older and hit the high school years I have found that I am using more online curriculum for homeschooling.  It is very convenient to be able to get an expert in the field to teach high school course. Veritas Press is a curriculum company that has been providing resources for Classical Christian homeschooling for years, and they have started offering their courses in an online, self-paced format.  I recently had the chance to review the Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I course, which is designed for students ages 12 and up.

Veritas Press ReviewAbout the Program

At the high school level the idea of classical education is to study the ancient civilizations which did so much to shape our world.  The Omnibus curriculum uses actual ancient literature and writings, not textbooks.  It is all encompassing because it covers Ancient World History, Theology, and Ancient Literature as integrated subjects, not as separate disciplines.  The books studied in this year long Omnibus course are:

The Last of the Mohicans Study Guide from Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press ReviewClassic literature can be challenging to study with your kids, which is why I am glad there are study guides available to help.  I recently had the chance to have my son use a Progeny Press Guide, and chose to review the Last of the Mohicans Study Guide.

Progeny Press’s goal is to help children understand literature.  They are written from a Christian perspective, with an emphasis on Biblical values.  The guide I received is designed for children in grades 8-12.  My son is just finishing 9th grade, so he is right in the age range.  I received an e-guide, which retails for $21.99.  They also sell hard copies of the guides.

Progeny Press Review