Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Autumn Handprint Crafts

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I have been slacking in the craft department lately, so I promised my sweet girl that we'd find something easy to do while on fall break (homeschool). :) I let her peruse fall crafty type things on Pinterest with me, and this is what she made . . .

Autumn Handprint Tree

First, I helped my daughter spread brown Crayola craft paint on her hand and forearm. I didn't realize we were out of paintbrushes, so I used a cotton ball to spread the paint.

See, what a creative "tree trunk!" We liked blue paper to represent the sky.

Next, she dipped her fingertips in different paint colors to make the "leaves" on her tree. She also added puffy, white clouds by using a cotton ball, which made for a really nice textured effect.

Thanksgiving Handprint Turkey

Again, I used a cotton ball to help her apply paint to her hand like so.

She embellished her turkey with legs, eye, wattle, and beak. Isn't he cute?
I am SO for simple fall crafts that look cute, too! These handprint crafts work for me.

Autumn handprint tree was inspired by Tip Junkie, and the handprint turkey was inspired by Kaboose.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

White Chili

Pin It Now! The first time I tasted white chili was about 8 or so years ago. My hubby's grandma made it, and if my memory serves me well, I believe she made it on Christmas tree decorating night. So many wonderful memories! Anyway, ever since, I have been making white chili every fall. I found a recipe in my Rival Crock Pot booklet, but I have tweaked it a bit.


White Chili
  • 3 cans Great Northern beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3 tsp. of minced garlic)
  • 2 4-oz. cans green chilies
  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2 14 1/2 oz. cans of chicken broth
  • 1 can water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (optional)
  • Saltines or tortilla chips (optional)

*Meat Seasonings: (I cook the chicken the day before, season it, and leave it in the fridge overnight.)
Mix 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground oregano, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper together. Pour over chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover and keep in fridge overnight.
** The next morning, in a crock pot, combine the seasoned meat and the rest of the ingredients adding the additional herbs and spices last. Stir and cook on low for 10-12 hours. (Mine is usually ready before 10 hours.) When ready to eat, top with cheese and crackers or chips if you'd like.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Roughing It" At My First Women's Retreat

Pin It Now! When my girlfriends and I pulled up to our cabin in beautiful Prescott, I knew right away that my boys would be proud of me. My kids haven't exactly been blessed with a mom who's known for roughing it. And believe me, staying in a cabin with 5 bunk beds squeezed into a tiny room and a bathroom the size of a closet is unfortunately for me, roughing it. ;) (I will add here that I was ever so thankful for that tiny bathroom and that I didn't have to use an outhouse or a chamber pot!)

Lincoln was kind of jealous that I was getting to stay at a camp -- the setting of many of his favorite books. Only I was hoping that no ill fate would befall me like all of those characters in Goosebumps! I am happy to report that the only excitement I experienced in that department was a black spider in the bathroom and some overly curious bees.

Wow, and here is my bed. Right next to a wall and a window. Two things I don't like! Again, the whole roughing it thing, right? I faintly remember staying at a place like this in Tennessee when I volunteered as a leader at a youth camp while I was in high school. Yeah. There's a reason it's only a faint memory and that I have never been back to a place like that again. Did. Not. Like.

Anyway, after adding my daughter's pretty pink flower sheets and my nice, warm blanket made by my hubby's grandma, the bed was perfect. With the help of Tylenol PM and some earplugs, I did miraculously manage to sleep about 4-5 hours per night.

Because of my aversion to roughing it, having a history of not being able to sleep away from home, having little children to tend to for the past 13 years, and many other excuses reasons, I had never been to a women's retreat until now. I really was a little apprehensive about not being able to sleep and being tired and stressed, but I knew it's where I needed to be. Where I wanted to be.

Over the past couple of years God has brought some amazing ladies into my life through our plant church. Because life can get so busy, it's been difficult to really spend time with some of them. Plus, I can tend to be a loner even though I long for close friends. For some reason it's been hard for me to really get close to anyone since moving to AZ. I knew I needed to just be with these women for a weekend fellowshiping and studying God's Word together.

I loved every minute.

And I can't wait to share more. Another day. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beloved Books ~ Sugar Creek Gang Audios {Schoolhouse Review}

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I am often very guilty of judging a book by its cover. Such is the case with Beloved Books.
PhotobucketFirst of all, I love books, and I admit I was smitten when I saw the picture of this little, old fashioned girl engrossed in one of her favorite children's stories. Bathed in sunlight, she just looks so precious, and it makes me wish I could step back in time and put myself in her little Mary Jane shoes.
I was pleased to be chosen to review the Sugar Creek Gang audio stories, from Beloved Books. The fact that they were written in the year 1939 appealed to me since some of my children's great-grandparents were kids growing up during that time period. I thought they could somehow feel "connected" to them by listening to stories told before televisions were the norm.
I also liked the story of how The Sugar Creek Gang was born. Paul Hutchens, the author, originally became an evangelist after graduating from Moody Bible Institute. He then went on to be ordained as a Baptist minister in 1925, but his ministry was cut short when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. During his time of recuperation, he decided to start writing stories, and so the first Sugar Creek Gang book was published in 1939.
The Schoolhouse Review Crew was asked to review the Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1 CDs --wholesome audio stories about a group of adventurous boys growing up during the good old days. This volume comes with 6 audio stories on 12 CDs, and each story is approximately 2 hours long. Since the series follow a continuing story line, it is best to listen to them in the order in which they are presented. The stories on the first volume are:
  • The Swamp Robber
  • The Killer Bear
  • The Winter Rescue
  • The Lost Campers
  • Chicago Adventure
  • The Secret Hideout
The main characters in these stories are members of a gang called, well, the Sugar Creek Gang! Members include Bill Collins, a 10 year old boy, the narrator, and a new believer; Big Jim, the oldest and leader of the gang who is also a strong Christian; Poetry, Bill's best friend who is on the chubby side and has a squeaky voice. He is also known for being able to quote all kinds of poems for any given situation. Then there's Little Jim, the youngest -- his mom plays piano for the church; Dragonfly, who is skinny and has keen eyes; and Circus, who is athletic and loves to act like an animal by climbing trees and such. Circus's dad is a drunk, and Bill often prays for him to come to know Jesus.

Not only does Paul Hutchens tell adventurous tales, he weaves the telling of the gospel into his stories as well. Bill, the narrator, is very sensitive toward other people receiving salvation through Jesus Christ, and early on we see how concerned he is for Circus's dad to become a Christian.

Other concepts such as nature, science, poetry, hymns, and more are also woven into the heart of these stories.
Volume 1 is just the first of 6 volumes in the Sugar Creek Gang series. It can be purchased for $54.95 with free media rate postage. The entire series is comprised of 36 books, each story having 2 corresponding CDs, which means there are a total of 72 CDs in the complete set. The entire set can be purchased for $279.70, a $50 savings!

My initial intention was to listen to these stories with my daughter who is 7. I figured it could take the place of our read-aloud time together for a while. About 15 minutes into the first story, The Swamp Robber, she looked up at me with half squinting, apologetic eyes and said, "I don't think I like this."

*Sigh* That is definitely not what I wanted to hear! I really think it had something to do with the narration of these stories. The narrator seemed to talk a little fast, and because I am definitely more of a visual learner, I even had some trouble keeping up with what was going on. My mind tends to wander if I don't have black and white print right in front of me. My daughter couldn't really explain why she didn't like listening to the story, though.

So, I came up with Plan B. I decided to play the CDs during lunch time. I thought it would be good to get my boys' opinions about the Sugar Creek Gang, too. I figured my 13-year-old might be a little to old for these stories, and he felt that way, too. Both he and my 10 year-old son confirmed my earlier suspicion about my daughter not liking the stories because of the narration. They both thought the narrator talked too fast, therefore making it difficult to keep up with what was happening. Honestly, after the first story was over, I couldn't even remember all of the characters who were in the gang. I was ever so thankful when the characters were kind of re-introduced in the second story! Over time, I did get used to the narrator and I was able to follow along better. My 10-year-old agreed. He even added that the stories weren't all that bad, but that they just weren't his style.

Even though my children didn't particularly care for the Sugar Creek Gang stories like I wanted them to, I still believe it is a good product. If your children (of all ages) like listening to audio stories, I think it would be a great idea for you and your family to decide for yourself and listen online to the very first, complete story in this series for FREE!

Beloved Books also offers many other titles in audio format such as historical fiction, missionary stories, Scripture memory songs, and more. Be sure and check out their website to view all of the products they have to offer.

See what other Crew members had to say about the Sugar Creek Gang.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Samson's Classroom {Schoolhouse Review}

Pin It Now! Photobucket Like me, my second grade daughter is an early riser. She usually has a couple of subjects done before her two brothers even roll out of bed!

Because we don't technically start "school" as a family until 8:00, my daughter can run out of things to keep herself occupied. And that is why I LOVE easy-to-use, online educational programs that make learning fun! My daughter stays busy and I get to take a shower and maybe even put on some makeup. ;)

For over a month my daughter has been enjoying a complimentary family subscription to Samson's Classroom, an online educational program geared toward students at a K-5th grade reading level. Samson's Classroom helps children become better readers by providing educational material and games that zero in on 3 essential building blocks -- sight words, spelling, and reading.

Samson, the program's lovable mascot, guides students through activities as the students work their way to becoming better readers in this virtual "classroom." I love that my daughter can log in all by herself to get started. Once she enters her own username and password, she's ready to go - doesn't need any help from me!

I can check her progress anytime by logging into my parent account. I can see exactly how many games she's played and her scores for each. I can also create my own spelling lists here if I choose to do so.

As I mentioned before, Samson's Classroom focuses on 3 main educational components, Reading, Sight Words, and Spelling. Follow along as I expalin each one in detail . . .
This portion of the program features reading passages with comprehension questions. There are four levels from which to choose, but even the first level requires the ability to read well. My daughter reads the stories to herself and then answers questions. As soon as she answers a question, she is given immediate feedback: Correct, Used Hint, Incorrect, or No Answer. (You can see the legend provided at the bottom of the picture below.) If she answers incorrectly on the first try, she will be given a hint. The paragraph in which the answer can be found will be highlighted in red. She can then try again to answer the question correctly. Also, I am not sure what the benefit is, but a timer keeps track of how long it takes for my daughter to complete a passage from start to finish.

When she is ready to move on to the next question, she can press the "Next" button.
As my daughter masters the reading passages, she earns Hammer Time Swings to use in the game, Hammer Time. She loves this carnival-type game in which Samson swings a hammer in order to reach the nasty spider. It is a challenging game -- my daughter said she's managed to get him twice. I tried my hand at the game and almost got him. You have to "swing" at just the right time. Anyway, my daughter earns points as she plays, and the top 5 players' scores are displayed for all to see.
The Reading section also keeps track of all of the stories she's read and keeps a tally of correct and incorrect answers.
Before I move on, I want to show you an example of what a level 1 reading passage looks like so you will know if your child is ready for this portion of the program. This is an excerpt from the first reading passage, "A Day at the Beach." There are 4 paragraphs and 7 comprehension questions in the whole passage. As you can see, your child would definitely need to be past the phonics stage of reading.
If your child isn't quite ready for the Reading section, the Sight Words and Spelling sections are better suited for the younger crowd.

Sight Words

This is a great place for beginning readers to learn and master the 224 most commonly used words in the English language. I've taken a different approach when it comes to teaching spelling, and I've never been big on sight words, in fact I thought it was funny that my daughter didn't even know what the term, sight words, meant. However, I will say that there certainly can't be anything wrong with practicing these most commonly used words for extra reinforcement!

There are 4 levels in Sight Words. Each level has 7 lists, and there are 5 steps in each list which need to be mastered.
Step 1: Study Words -- Samson calls out the words to my child and spells them out on the screen. In the first list there are 8 words, and it's comprised of simple words such as and, the, is, and big.

Step 2: Missing Letters -- Samson spells one of the words out loud, and then my daughter has to choose the letters in the correct order from the 8 choices at the top of the screen.

Step 3: Letter Scramble -- Samson dictates a spelling word and a sentence with that particular word in it. My daughter has to choose the correct word from a list on the screen.

Step 4: Spell Words -- Here, Samson calls out a word and my daughter has to spell the word choosing letters from the entire alphabet.

Step 5: Missing Words -- Samson reads the sentence on the screen, and my daughter must choose which word fills in the blank.

My daughter is motivated to complete the steps by the Sight Words Black Belt Program. When she completes all 5 steps in a list, she earns a star. For every 4 stars, she receives a new belt color. (This brings back memories of my Taekwondo days!) So basically, the goal is to master all 28 sight word lists in order to become a Black Belt.
Even though my daughter has to start out on the first level in this game which is super easy for her, she still enjoys it. She thinks it's really fun to earn belts. So far she's just a Yellow Belt -- probably because I make her spend more time in the Reading section.

Samson's Classroom offers students a comprehensive spelling package with more than 5,000 words and counting. There are over 80 word lists prepared by Knowledge Wand, LLC. Fifteen of the lists are are divided by grade level from grades 1st - 5th. The higher the grade level the more words there are in a list. Twenty eight lists feature sight words, and twenty lists are comprised of word families such as -all, -ed, -ot, -up, etc. Some of those lists are pretty short, too. Other lists are grouped into categories like The Kitchen, Summer Fun, Things at the Beach, Fruits, Farm Animals, and more.

For each spelling list there are 4 assignments to complete:

1. Study Zone -- My daughter can see a list of her spelling words, and she can click on each word to hear Samson say it, use it in a sentence, and spell it out. There is an option to print the spelling list with sentences as well.

2. Missing Letters -- This is a game in which my daughter helps Samson Karate chop his way through missing letters. If my daughter chooses the wrong missing letters, poor Samson ends up with a big, fat headache!

3. Spelling Scramble -- In this game, my daughter helps Samson collect letters to turn them into words, but she must must watch out for Terrence the Taranchula! (Ordinarily spelled "tarantula.") At first, my daughter had quite a bit of trouble with this game. Only the left and right arrow keys are used to play this game, and it was just frustrating to make Samson go the way she wanted him to go. Also, Terrence seemed to be far more speedy than Samson, so Samson would get caught every time right away. Fortunately, the spider only came out once during the game. My daughter was SO pleased with herself the day she outsmarted that silly spider. Now she really doesn't have any issues with the game - it just took some time getting used to it, I guess.


4. Crunch Time -- My daughter must type her spelling words correctly before Wally the Walrus chomps the iceberg and knocks Samson into the frigid water. Her goal is to get Samson safely out of the water and into his cozy igloo.


In all of the spelling games, players' high scores are shown as well as my daughters best and latest scores.

Samson's Classroom is a quality program that balances education and fun. My daughter likes it, and that counts for a lot! My favorite section is Reading since this offers the most challenge for my daughter, but she likes working on all three sections. Overall, this has been a pleasant addition to my daughter's morning routine.

The learning doesn't stop there! The Resource Center Menu offers many additional resources such as articles about teaching and education, lesson plans to help you teach concepts, worksheets that reinforce letter recognition, tracing, and spelling, and so much more.

 If you aren't sure if this program is a good fit for your child, watch this 3 minute video and see for yourself!

If you are interested in signing your child/ren up for Samson's Classroom, there are 2 options available for families -- the Home Plan or the Family Plan. The price for the Home Plan is $30 per year for 1 user. The price for the Family Plan is $50 per year for up to 4 users. Each user under the Family Plan will have his or her own user name. This is Mac and PC user friendly.

See what other Crew Members had to say about Samson's Classroom.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Grand Adventure

Pin It Now! Columbus Day has never been a homeschool holiday for us, but since Daddy gets that day and all those other government holidays off, he surprised us with a quick little trip up North.

After church, we drove to Flagstaff and stayed the night. You would've thought we'd spotted gold by the way we all ooohed and ahhed over the aspens dotting the roadside woods and far-off mountains. Rocks, cacti, dirt, and HOT-as-you-know-what temps do tend to wear on the soul after a while. Cool, tingly temperatures, the musky scent of pine, and vibrant fall colors were the perfect ingredients to awaken the senses of this desert weary girl!

We stopped and stretched our legs by the neatest looking chapel. If not for the paved road and cars whizzing by, I might have thought I'd stepped back in time. I imagined myself sitting inside wearing some kind of vintage dress, worn Bible upon my lap, and a horse-drawn carriage waiting outside upon my return. Anyway . . .

My favorite thing about this chapel was the door. Love it. :)

 And what do we modern-day folks do when we like something? We pose by what it is we like and take a billion pictures!


Shiloh couldn't wait to collect pine cones, something we can't really do in the dust bowl.

And, yes, if there is a tree, Lincoln WILL climb it. I've been waiting for the day he falls and breaks something. Thankfully, I am still waiting. ;) I hate to admit it, but when I was much younger, I loved climbing trees, too, only I'd go one step further and hang upside down. Don't tell Lincoln, though.
After a fun night of going to dinner at Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, then to Starbucks for fun drinks, and getting a little bit of sleep, we were ready for The Grand Canyon! (The best part of going to Flagstaff was getting to comfortably wear a sweater and a pair of boots in October - yeehaw!)

This was my second time to see The Grand Canyon. It was Mullin's and Shiloh's first time to see it. As expected, the 7 yr. old wasn't all that impressed - said it just looked like any other mountain. Oh well, I enjoyed seeing this amazing raw beauty up close again. (I didn't enjoy the agonizing shin splints I suffered the next few days. Too much walking on an incline, I guess? Seriously, I couldn't walk, I had to shuffle.)

Totally off the subject, but I just think it's so neat that all 3 of my kids have different hair colors. And at least for now, all natural. :)

And, yes, I saved the best for last. The picture below was taken in May of 1996. I was a mere 20 years old. Ahh, so young! It was my first time to ever see the Grand Canyon. Mark's, too, I suppose. We were visiting my mom and sister. Little did I know that Mark would propose 6 months later and we'd be wed that very next May.
I never thought I'd actually live in Arizona again, but here we are 16 years later taking our 3 kids.
Life. Goes. By. So. Fast.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Decor and the Making of My First Fall Wreath

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Besides setting out a couple of pumpkins and a pot of mums, I've never really decorated for fall. Not that I haven't wanted to ~ just really haven't been able to. :) This year, though, I was able to work for a couple of days and earn some extra "fun" money!

I was super giddy knowing Hobby Lobby had all of their fall decor on sale for 40% off, so I thought I was going to be able to buy my first fall wreath. I just LOVE fall wreaths!! Um, I honestly had no idea how expensive ready-made wreaths were. Even with 40% off, I had to pass. Do people really spend $120 (not on sale) on a wreath?

Anyway, I was hoping to avoid having to spend time and energy on making my own, but I really wanted a wreath. I'm like a polar bear in the desert when it comes to craft and hardware stores, but I decided to brave the new JOANN right by my house. I let out a huge sigh of relief when I saw their prices, and I was able to get a few items of decor ~ yea!

I put my lovely apothecary jars to good use, bought some fake fall foliage, and yes, made my first fall wreath. (grin)

I've been dying to find a way to use burlap, and here is a way for this uncrafty girl to use it. :)

Fall foliage looks so pretty in the vase hubby bought for me.

Perfect in front of my 3 cuties, although they are no longer this little.

Now for the wreath. Supplies: twig wreath, leaf garland, fall foliage pieces, burlap ribbon, shiny ribbon, craft wire, and hot glue. I reused a twig wreath that had Christmas decorations glued to it, so it was free. Overall, I'd say I spent about $30 making the wreath, and that's because I had to buy a refill package of glue.

I attached the leaf garland to the wreath with gold wire. My hot glue gun is super tiny, and it would've cost more to use the glue.

Once that was finished, I did use glue on some of the leaves to make them actually stick to the wreath. This helped to cover up the bare spots in the middle. I also glued those little cream-colored things onto the wreath. I have no idea what they are called.

Last I looped burlap ribbon around the wreath and added a shiny bow. Not as elaborate as some of the wreaths I'd love to have on my door, but it's simple and pretty nonetheless!

I am content with my little front porch display and so happy to finally have a fall wreath! (Now I just need to make sure I keep myself from looking at all the beautiful, elaborate Pinterest fall front porches.)

Making my own wreath works for me!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

TOS Review: Dayspring Christian Academy -Pilgrim Story

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Dayspring Christian Academy, a principle approach school located in Lancaster County, offered members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew a six month subscription to their self-guided, interactive course, The Pilgrim Story. Perfect timing now that fall is officially upon us and Thanksgiving draws near!

When I was in elementary school, I could count on learning about the Pilgrims every year around Thanksgiving. And I could be sure that bulletin boards would be decorated with cartoonish characters wearing the classic Pilgrim attire - black and white clothes complete with big, black hats and fat, shiny buckles. (They only dressed that way for special occasions - they mostly wore dark, earthy colors to hide all the dirt and grime!)

Even though history wasn't my favorite subject in school, I loved learning about this crucial time in our nation's history. The Pilgrim Story is unique in that it gives in-depth detail of the history of the pilgrims, features many primary sources, and focuses on the providence of God. By the end of this course students will have a complete, chronological history of the pilgrim story. So far, I really like it!

 I wish you could hear the introductory music that accompanies this picture we see every time we begin a lesson. It sets the stage for the Pilgrims' many adventures and whisks you away to another place and time. My kids say it sounds like battle music. :)

Before I get in to the details of this course, you may want to become acquainted with The Pilgrim Story by watching this brief overview. (Music in this video is different from what I mentioned above.)

Course Outline:

Pilgrim Story - Introduction

Unit One
*King Henry
*Geneva Bible
*Life in Scrooby
*Liberty of Conscience
-- Unit One Test

Unit Two
*Leaving England
*The Second Escape Attempt
*Preparing to Go
--Unit Two Test

Unit Three
*Leaving Leiden
*Conditions on the Mayflower
*Building Christian Character
--Unit Three Test

Unit Four
*The Mayflower Compact
*The First Winter
--Unit Four Test

Unit Five
*Spring, 1621
*The Wampanoag People
*The Rest of the Story (the next three years) --Unit Five Test

Virtual Field Trip

Before your child begins The Pilgrim Story, it is recommended that you provide a 1" 3-ring binder to store all of his work. You will also need 5 divider tabs to separate each unit. (You can refer to the above outline.) We are using a 2" 3-ring binder since I am storing all three of my kids' work in one binder. My children (13, 10, & 7) and myself are taking the course together.

This unit based course presents the material in the form of visual slides. A narrator reads the information on the slides and gives additional facts as well.

The components of each lesson include:
  • List of items
  • Documents to download
  • Description of what will be covered
  • Student note sheet
  • Enrichment activities
  • Review of previous lesson
  • Vocabulary words
  • Review of current lesson
  • Suggestions for further reading
At the beginning of every lesson you or your child will print all of the necessary worksheets such as the note sheets, vocabulary lists, quotes from primary sources, and any additional activity pages that will be used during the lesson. Additional enrichment activities include writing assignments, mapping, and more. The note sheets are fill-in-the-blanks. The answers are always underlined on the slides, so there is no guessing or no reason the child should get any of the answers wrong.

Here are a couple of examples of activities your child will come across during a typical lesson:

This type of activity is interactive and mandatory. Your child can't move on to the next slide until it is completed. For this activity we clicked on each name to learn more about that particular person.

This type of activity, a writing assignment, isn't considered mandatory. However it is encouraged that your child complete these as well. My kids did this one and wrote all the items they'd take to the New World. My daughter listed quite a few that had to be crossed off. :( (Sorry, but Mr. Betta Fish would've had to stay behind.) There were other writing assignments that we chose to discuss out loud instead of writing on paper.  

At the end of each unit, there is a test. Your child can choose between a multiple choice test or an essay test. We have chosen the multiple choice tests since those are easier for my youngest. We all answer together, and after submitting the answers, results are immediately given. Test scores are recorded under Course Administration: Grades.
The Pilgrim Story is recommended for students in grades 2-8. Personally, I feel that a child would need to be in fourth grade to complete the course entirely on his own. My fifth grader and eighth grader would have had no problem doing it on their own, but my second grader would have been too overwhelmed. In fact, I had to help her fill in worksheets and complete some of the activities.

If a child works alone, lessons should take about 30-45 minutes, but because we were doing it together, an entire lesson would take at least an hour. It just took longer for my daughter to write her answers, and we would also take the time to do the activities. Sometimes we would only complete half a lesson in one sitting. This was a little inconvenient, though, since the lessons don't pick back up where we stop. So, I would have to shuffle through the slides, sometimes having to quickly re-answer previous questions in order to reach the slide where we left off.

So far, we have completed the first two units, and my oldest and I are reading one of the suggested books, William Bradford: Plymouth's Faithful Pilgrim.  I am very impressed with the quality of the course and plan to continue. Hopefully we can finish by Thanksgiving!

Here's what my two boys have to say about The Pilgrim Story:

13 yr. old - "The Pilgrim Story is a great alternative to the boring book learning. This course doesn't only explain the Pilgrims' voyage and life to America but also gives great in-depth detail as to why the Pilgrims make this journey. It is very fun, but it is not convenient if you don't want to do a whole lesson at one time. There were also many typing errors. Overall, it was pretty cool."

10 yr. old - "I like the Pilgrim Story. First of all, I like that it goes into detail about the background of the Pilgrims. Second, I like that on the tests, it gives you two choices. Multiple Choice or Essay."
Even though we are not finished with the course yet, I went ahead and viewed the Virtual Field Trip for the purpose of the review. (My kids have to wait until the end, though.) After watching the slides, it makes me wish our family could take a "real life" trip to Massachusetts! For now we will have to settle for the very informative and interesting virtual trip.

In the Virtual Field Trip, you and your family will follow Mrs. Stauffer (the instructor of this course) and her third grade class to Plymouth Plantation. Through over 40 slides you will see and learn about the following:

  • Forefather's Monument
  • Pilgrim Hall Museum
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Jenny Grist Mill
  • Mayflower II
  • Leyden Street Today
  • Brewster Gardens
  • Town Brook
  • The Pilgrim Mother Monument
  • William Bradford Statue
  • Cole's Hill Monument
  • Massasoit Statue
  • National Day of Mourning Plaque
  • First Parish Church
  • Burial Hill
  • The First Fort
  • The Cushman Monument
  • John Howland Grave Marker
  • Bradford's Grave

I think this field trip is such a great way to end the course. Okay, now I am ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Mmmm, savory turkey, hot corn, and pumpkin pie - oh my!

There's plenty of time to sign up for The Pilgrim Story before Thanksgiving. (Not that you have to sign up before then. Your child can take this course at any time of the year.) Cost of this course is $99. Access to the course begins 48 hours after purchase and can be completed at any time during the 6 month time period. If all of the information from the course is neatly organized in a 3-ring binder, it can be reviewed and enjoyed for years to come. That is definitely my plan!

*Note: There were a few minor typing errors in the first 2 units, and one question was missing - question #10 in Unit 1 Lesson 3. I contacted Dayspring Christian Academy and they promptly responded with the missing information. They are working to add it back in. Here is the missing information in case you need it before then: 10. The church based its government on the New Testament church described in the book of Acts. The Bible was the standard they used for making rules and decisions. They had a democratic form of self government.

Be sure to check out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members have to say about The Pilgrim Story.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine
Black and white pilgrim photo credit


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