Monday, October 14, 2019

Brain Blox Fun Family Chess Review


My family had the privilege of trying Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox for this review to use in conjunction with our own games at home. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Brain Blox is a family-owned company that makes educational games and toys that can be enjoyed by the whole family. They believe that kids should be free to play, explore, and express themselves in a way true to who they are inside. They want to empower families to have more meaningful time and relations with one another, without electronics devices...to engage more with the real world together.

Fun Family Chess is set up the same as traditional chess. Board has icons where you place the pieces other than pawns.

Fun Family Chess is a 2 player chess game with double the fun because there are two ways to play, Fun Family Chess and traditional chess. The game of Fun Family Chess is said to have been invented by a dog named Chesster. The Fun Family Chess game uses a chess cube or die that has all the symbols of the pieces color coded to match the reference card. The light side goes first and rolls the chess cube. Then you match the colored symbol to the reference card. If you roll a star you can move any piece that can move. You must roll a star to move the King because there isn't a King symbol on the cube. If you cannot move the piece indicated on the chess cube how it is stated on the reference card you get to roll again! You can capture pieces by landing on top of your opponent's piece. Once you capture it you can take that piece off the board. You win by capturing the other player's king instead of trapping it in a position it can't escape (checkmate in traditional standard chess).

How to Play Fun Family Chess:


Go here to watch more videos on Fun Family Chess!

5 ways traditional standard chess is different:
  • no chess cube: instead choose any piece you can move legally.
  • winning is different: you win by checkmate.
  • pawn superpower: if a pawn reaches the other side of the board safely it can change into another piece (except a pawn or King)
  • en passant: means your pawn gets another superpower...a special capture that is only used in specific situations. You can read more about this in the Full Color Chess Book.
  • castling: in some situations, the Rook and King can do this special swap-move-thing. You can read more about this in the Full Color Chess Book.

Brain Blox Fun Family Chess pieces store inside the foldable wooden case that doubles as the board.

Includes:
  • Folding Wooden Chess Board with Velvet Lining and Chess Icons on the Board for Easy Set up.
  • 32 Wooden Chess Pieces with Velvet Bottoms in a Soft Pouch.
  • Full Color Chess Book, teaches both Fun Family Chess and Standard Chess.
  • 2 Color Coded Reference Cards, shows how each piece moves.
  • Chess Cube/Die, when playing Fun Family Chess, simply roll the die to see which piece to move.
  • Plus...Video Tutorials and 2 Months Gold Membership with ChessKid!

Zari and Teela playing Fun Family Chess.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

Chess improves problem solving, concentration, memory, strategic thinking, planning, foresight and intelligence. Sometimes though it can be a bit overwhelming to learn because of all the moves and plays you need to remember. My oldest son loves chess, but he can be a bit intimidating to my daughters who are younger because he is good at playing because of practice. The Brain Blox Fun Family Chess makes it easy to learn how to play chess and it has the piece icons right on the board to help you with setup and reference cards to know how each piece moves. You can start with the Fun Family Chess game and move up to traditional chess once you have learned the basic moves the pieces make.

I also love that the Fun Family Chess set is beautifully made. The pieces and the board are made of wood. The board folds up and is its own case for the pieces, cards, die, and booklet. It latches shut so nothing will fall out. The inside is velvet lined so that the pieces will be somewhat padded and their are two velvet pouches for all the light and dark pieces to go into. The pouches help you not loose the pieces and keep them all together. The pieces have felt on the bottoms of them too so they won't scratch the surface of the board as you play.

My daughters, Teela and Zari, who are 11 and almost 9 loved playing with this chess set. They thought it was a lot more fun to play the Fun Family Chess game with the chess cube because the cube told you which piece to play if you could play it and if not you could roll again until you could play a piece. My girls also loved that the cube had a star symbol on it which meant they could pick what ever piece they wanted. The Fun Family Chess game definitely gave a new perspective to the game of chess. They also loved that the moves of each piece was laid out for them on a full color reference card so they could see the piece and how it moved on the board. Even my youngest daughter said it wasn't as complicated because of the way it was presented. Both of my girls said that this chess set, even when playing traditional chess, was easier to both set up and play.

I am very glad we got to review the Brain Blox Fun Family Chess because it is a great way to learn to play chess or help someone like me who is very rusty at chess because I haven't played in a while. I recommend it very highly, especially as a chess for kids!

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Also, on the Brain Blox website there are some awesome free resources. We love the free printables for the Conscious Kids Journal! Don't miss those.

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You can purchase the Brain Blox Fun Family Chess from Amazon.



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Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

TV Store Online Halloween Costume Review and Giveaway!


Halloween is coming soon and if you celebrate, you probably have started looking for the best costumes for your family to wear. TV Store Online is a great online store that has quality licensed merchandise from TV, movies, comic books, and 80's themes. There is stuff from Disney, Hasbro, Nintendo, Marvel, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. You can find a number of accessories, clothing, footwear, pajamas, robes, costumes, shirts, leggings, etc. You can find so many great costumes at TV Store Online for this October 31st.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie. Super Cute!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a Brony, a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that is outside the target demographic of little girls. Practically my whole family are into the animated TV series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or MLP FIM for short. We go to Seattle Washington every year to participate in Everfree Northwest, the MLP convention out there. Sometimes we even cosplay characters from the show. I have been wanting to get a Twilight Sparkle Hoodie ever since the first convention because Twilight Sparkle is my second favorite of the mane six ponies. I already have the Fluttershy hoodie that is similar to this one.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie front.

For this review I picked out a Twilight Sparkle Face Lilac Costume Hoodie with Mane & Horn in Junior Women's S to review. The small fit me just fine. This hoodie comes in XS-2X in junior sizes. I love that this hoodie is super soft inside and has pockets to keep my hands warm. It is lilac which matches Twilight's actual color and has Twilight's cutie mark on one of the lower sides. The hooded sweatshirt is made from 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester. The draw string hood has adorable ears, a lilac horn, and a pink and dark purple mane that comes down the back. I was a little disappointed that this hoodie is of the old version of Twilight Sparkle, not the princess version... so it doesn't have wings. The zipper pull has the symbol from Twilight's cutie mark and her cute face on the chest. I cannot wait to wear this for Halloween and to Everfree NW next year!

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie back, no wings.

I recommend TV Store Online for all your fan apparel needs and costumes for Halloween for the entire family. You can even all match or be unique...it is all up to you. They have so many different items to choose from there is bound to be something that would be perfect for gifting.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie has pockets and a cutie mark.

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DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to facilitate this review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado Book Review and Giveaway #JustInCaseYouEverWonder


I received this book free to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

Just in Case You Ever Wonder is a children's hardcover book written by bestselling author Max Lucado. This is a re-release of a classic this time with illustrations by Eve Tharlet. With a wonderful story and lovely illustrations this book shows little ones that they are special, made by God, and brought to earth to live with a loving family that will be there for them always.

Zari enjoying the Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado book.

What We Thought:
I recommend this book for preschoolers through second graders most of all. My youngest daughter, Zari, who is in third grade loves this book! This book is a bit under her reading level, but she still loves it because of the meaning of the words. She also loves looking at the adorable illustrations as well. In this version of the book it has two bears instead of people. I love that this book teaches that the parent and Heavenly Father will always be there for their child in times of need and comfort.

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Buy the Just in Case You Ever Wonder book on Amazon.



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Prize: Just in Case You Ever Wonder Book
Host: HarperCollins Christian Publishing and FrontGate Media.
Who Can Enter: Open to US Residents 18 years or older.
Selection Process: 5 winners will be selected on 9/20/2019 and notified by email.
Where to Enter: Go to this link https://www.blessedfreebies.com/just-in-case-you-ever-wonder-giveaway.html and fill out the form to enter.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to facilitate this review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection Review


My family had the privilege of trying the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Zeezok Publishing is a Christian provider of enriching educational materials for homeschoolers. They strive to supply the best and most affordable homeschooling textbooks and supplementary materials that will compliment your educational needs. Zeezok Publishing is continuing to expand its curriculum, books, and supplementary materials to help the homeschooling family have the opportunity to give the finest possible education to their children.

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection, minus Nutcracker Ballet book.

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades is more than just teaching music theory or music appreciation to your student. This collection is from the Great Musicians Series. The collection includes a student activity book and nine composer biographies. This is geared for grades 5th-8th and a variety of learners including: auditory, kinesthetic, visual, etc. It also meets all national standards for music appreciation.


What is included in detail:
  • Student Book: This soft cover book by Elisabeth Tanner and Judy Wilcox starts off with a Table of Contents, Introduction, Scope & Sequence, and Music List. Then it has each of the seven composers listed, each with 4 weeks of hands-on activities that include:  American and world history, grammar, geography, music studies, concert etiquette, timelines, character trait studies, and so much more. The activity book ends in Endnotes, a bibliography for each section. This is a great companion to the biographies and they suggest getting one of these for each student being taught. Comes with Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and their app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. MSRP $59.99
  • 9 Composer Biographies: Nine different biography books for seven composers studied. Included is: Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Edward MacDowell. These biographies describe the childhood and adult life of each of these composers. These are true and accurate with every important event mentioned. These also have written music and lovely pictures throughout.

Music Appreciation: Book 2 Collection includes one Student Book and the following nine composer biographies: 
  • Frederic Chopin, Early Years
  • Frederic Chopin, Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I used this set with my daughter, Teela, who is just starting 6th grade. We focused on Frederic Chopin and the book Frederic Chopin, Early Years and some of the Frederic Chopin, Later Years for the 4 week study and this review. First we looked through the Student Book and found that besides a nice table of contents, each composer had its own colored tab along the side to find the pages easily. The tab colors also go with the some of the reader colors. When we flipped to Frederic Chopin on page 17 we found the Weekly Lesson Outline layout for each of the four weeks. These Weekly Lesson Outlines are given for each composer too and is very well structured and spelled out for you so you know exactly what to do and when. At the end of the 5 weeks they also include an answer key to help the teacher with grading.

I noticed a few things when we received the set through the mail. We received all but one of the physical books in the series because of an error in shipping. We were instead given a digital download of the Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet, the last one we were missing, but I would have rather had the physical book. There is also a lapbook and coloring book that we did not receive and that are sold separately to go along with the materials. Also, I noticed that one book, The Young Brahms, was a hardcover not softcover like the rest.

In the Student Book there are Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and a link to an app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. We couldn't use the QR codes because we don't have a device to read them, but had a lot of fun with the website link which had all the same information. There are also activities in the student book that are starred and this means that those certain activities are required in order to meet national music appreciation standards.

Chopin Weekly Lesson Outline and an illustration in the reader.

The Student Book had 5 weeks about Chopin. Each week we had different things to work on; some included: chapters to read from the biographies, comprehension questions to answer, character qualities to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, tidbits of interest to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, listening to tracks, vocabulary to learn, musical parts to learn, recipes to try, etc.

We learned a great deal about Chopin's early years. Not only did we learn about his life, but we also learned about his birthplace, Poland; music, foods he ate with recipes of a similar facsimile, etc. Some of the things we learned was that he went by many names, he weighed only 100 pounds even as an adult, he liked doing smaller recitals than large concerts because he played softly and some people couldn't hear him, and that his sister died of tuberculosis.

All of the parts of this curriculum complement each other really well. We loved how easy it was to follow along each week in the Student Book. It was really fascinating to learn about Chopin's life in the Frederic Chopin, Early Years biography reader. The link, instead of the QR codes, worked better for us for the tracks of music to listen to for each composer, videos about his life and music, and there is a quiz at the end of comprehension questions about the reading. As you can see there are a lot of different activities besides reading.

Teela is excited to learn about the other composers in this collection as well. We are going to finish Frederic Chopin, Later Years soon and then start on the book, Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff. We can't wait to learn more about Chopin's life and other musicians in the series.

We highly recommend the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection! If you are looking into a great classical music appreciation curriculum or homeschool music program look no further. This would be a great summer music program too! Also, look for the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades Collection if you have children in that age group. Book 1 includes: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert. I have loved learning about these composers.

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Retail Price is $185. 54. Sale Price is $169.99. Save 10% when purchasing the complete Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades collection!

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Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book Review


My family had the privilege of listening to the Britfield & the Lost Crown audio book for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum at home. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Britfield & the Lost Crown is a book authored by C.R. Stewart. It is a fast-paced adventure novel that starts off in Northern England, Yorkshire, as two orphans, Tom and Sarah, narrowly escape from Weatherly Orphanage, a place owned by dreadful Mr. and Mrs. Grievous and watched over by the corrupt caretaker, Mr. Speckle and the terrifying guard dog, Wind. Before this daring escape Tom finds out something about his past that will change his life forever and with only a clue word sets out to find out more. They are chased by Detective Gowerstone and his police force and gain altitude by taking flight in a found hot air balloon over central England.  Will they get the help they need to get to their destination? Will they ever stop being chased by Detective Gowerstone? What other secrets await to be uncovered?

This book has a 83-page pdf study guide that goes with it. It is an e-book that can be downloaded and printed. The study guide is intended to be used over eight weeks (or longer) taking students through the book chapter by chapter. This is available online at the Britfield Institute as a free gift for teachers and homeschoolers. It contains vocabulary, comprehension, further in depth questions, and enrichment activities that go with each chapter.

What the Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book looked like in Audible.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I received the audiobook sent through Amazon's Audible. This book is authored by C.R. Stewart and the audio book is narrated by Ian Russell. The whole audio book is 9 hrs and 25 mins. The book is 17 chapters long. This mystery novel is a great first book in what is going to be a five part series. My daughter Teela who is going into 6th grade listened to the whole book with her sister Zari who is going into 3rd grade. They loved the action and adventure in this and enjoyed listening to the narrator tell the story.

Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book Chapters and length in Audible.

I too listened to the entire book with Audible. I had never tried Audible before and downloaded it to my personal computer. It was surprisingly simple to use and downloaded the book to it easily. My daughter Zari won a Kindle Fire from her school because of all her reading accomplishments so I borrowed it to listen to the story while I did dishes. This book was had me on the edge of my seat at times not knowing what would happen next. The narrator was wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed his narration of Britfield & the Lost Crown. It was very entertaining.

My favorite part was when Tom and Sarah were navigating the skies in the hot air balloon. They come upon more balloons and people that greeted them in different languages and to Tom's astonishment Sarah knew all 4 languages. Teela's favorite part of the story was the Grievous' car being stolen and crashed by one of the orphans in the chaos that ensued while Tom and Sarah are trying to escape. Zari laughed when the orphans of Weatherly Orphanage filled their bellies with food from the kitchen and liked the kind man that helped them on their journey to the train station. Both Zari and Teela were glad that the owners and the caretaker really couldn't punish the orphans fully because they all were to blame and the work couldn't be stopped or the owners would loose money.

We all loved the imagery of the story. You could definitely envision everything happening because of the great detail of the people, landscapes, buildings, and places. The suspense and bit of history is wonderful. In the book you are taken through places like: Yorkshire, The Midlands, Oxford, Windsor, Richmond, London, and Canterbury. The website has maps, information and pictures of these places as well.

We didn't use the study guide this time. But I did look it over and boy is it thorough. It goes through vocabulary study, comprehension questions, going deeper questions that make you think more, and learn more with technology sections that has you search stuff online to learn more about certain subjects related to the book. Chapters 1&2, 3&4, 5&6 are together and then the other chapters (7-17) are separate. It also has a synopsis and about the author in the beginning and additional resources and answer key for the vocabulary study and comprehension questions at the end.

We recommend Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book to everyone that loves a good English history thriller. It would be a perfect juvenile-fiction, middle grade, teen, or young adult novel. We cannot wait til the next book in the series is released. We are going to try to wait patiently, but I hope it is going to be soon. The suspense of what is going to happen next is going to kill me.

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You can purchase Britfield & the Lost Crown in Softcover, Hardcover, Audiobook and Ebook from their website.

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Britfield & the Lost Crown  {Reviews}

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday August 23rd, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Balloons are bad for the environment! BalloonsBlow.org

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I hate balloons ๐ŸŽˆ. I didn't as a child, but now that I know how much they are bad for the environment and that some balloons are even made by children in 3rd world countries, I despise them. They are supposed to be a symbol of happiness, but how can I be happy when they do so much damage. I recently saw a documentary about the children that work in balloon factories. They do not get to know the joy that balloons usually bring. They breathe chemicals all day from the fumes and latex. People are also so careless and let them go into the heavens because they think it is fun to watch, but it is detrimental to animals and pollutes the earth. Wildlife gets entangled in them, chokes on them, and dies from getting strangled by them. Balloons whether made of Mylar or latex are not biodegradable and contribute to our litter problem as well. This is why I do not buy balloons any more for parties. It is all so very sad and certainly nothing to celebrate.

I want to make some things for my garden and orchard. Here is the list:
  • Compost tea maker
  • Worm Vermiculture Bin
  • Rain collection system off the roof ๐ŸŒง️
  • Bat House(s) ๐Ÿฆ‡
  • Better Chicken Coop ๐Ÿ”
  • Aquaponics with home grown Tilapia ๐ŸŸ

I would also love to get my garden and orchard up to specifications so that I can have certification with:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday August 22nd, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Our economical Chevrolet Impala with Coastal Playground Whale license plates.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

We exchanged our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica van in for a 2018 Chevrolet Impala recently. We hated the Pacifica. It had so many issues even though it was brand new when we bought it. It was the single most worst purchase ever. We were glad to get rid of it even though it could hold our whole family. Our Impala drives like a dream. It is a wonderful car ๐Ÿš— and it was still under warranty when we traded it in. We got a few minor things fixed on it, like: the temperature gauge wasn't reading right. Now it is perfect. It saves us gas money and is eco-friendly because it uses less gas as well. Besides helping the environment with our purchase of a more economical vehicle we are also helping support Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute with our purchase of our new license plate. The “Coastal Playground” license plate features a mother gray whale ๐Ÿ‹ and its calf swimming somewhere off the Oregon coast. The plate also has a lighthouse and rolling waves in the distance. Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute will receive $35 of the $40 surcharge on each plate, which will help the school fund research and education projects.

My hair is starting to go grey. I knew this would happen eventually. I don't know if I want to just let it go grey naturally or cover it up and be a red head :) I have always wanted to try henna hair color. Is is more natural than the chemical hair dye and better for your hair. Maybe I will take the plunge.

I want to start growing sprouts ๐ŸŒฑ again. I used to grow different kinds, mostly: mung beans, alfalfa, and broccoli, and lentils. We have a Kitchen Crop 4-tray Seed Sprouter. I loved adding nutritious sprouts to soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fry, bread, omelets, and more.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

TV Store Online Hoodie Review and Giveaway!


TV Store Online is a great online store that has quality licensed merchandise from TV, movies, comic books, and 80's themes. There is stuff from Disney, Hasbro, Nintendo, Marvel, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. You can find a number of accessories, clothing, footwear, pajamas, robes, costumes, shirts, leggings, etc.

MLP FIM Fluttershy Hoodie. Super Cute!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a Brony, a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that is outside the target demographic of little girls. Practically my whole family are into the animated TV series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or MLP FIM for short. We go to Seattle Washington every year to participate in Everfree Northwest, the MLP convention out there. Sometimes we even cosplay characters from the show. I have been wanting to get a Fluttershy Hoodie ever since the first convention because Fluttershy is my favorite of the mane six ponies.

MLP FIM Fluttershy Hoodie front.

For this review I picked out a Fluttershy Pegasus Face Butter Yellow Hoodie with Mane and Wings in Junior Women's XS to review. The XS fit me a bit snug. This hoodie comes in XS-2X in junior sizes. I love that this hoodie is super soft inside and has pockets to keep my hands warm. It is butter yellow which matches Fluttershy's actual color and has Fluttershy's cutie mark on one of the lower sides. The hooded sweatshirt is made from 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester. The draw string hood has adorable ears and a pink mane that comes down the back. This hoodie also has a pair of yellow wings on the back because Fluttershy is a pegasus pony. The zipper pull has one butterfly from Fluttershy's cutie mark and her sweet face on the chest. I cannot wait to wear this to Everfree NW next year!

MLP FIM Fluttershy Hoodie wings in the back.

I recommend TV Store Online for all your fan apparel needs for the entire family. You can even all match or be unique...it is all up to you. They have so many different items to choose from there is bound to be something that would be perfect for gifting.

MLP FIM Fluttershy Hoodie has pockets and a cutie mark.


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DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to facilitate this review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Wednesday August 21st, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I noticed today that there was water ๐Ÿ’ฆ coming out of a pipe that is in back of out heat exchanger to our heat pump. I let my husband know. He said that it looked like a water main break in the same pipe that feeds water to the sink in our bathroom that has been used constantly since we do not have a sink in our kitchen because of a kitchen remodel. So now we have to get that repaired as well and the new line looks like it is going to go through part of my garden. Those plants will have to be removed to make way for the new plumbing.

We usually go to Sushi ๐Ÿฃ on Wednesdays at the semi new Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse And Sushi restaurant ๐Ÿฅข because they have 50% off part of their sushi menu then. I look forward to it every Wednesday. We probably won't be going today though because of everything that is going on.

I need to water my houseplants ๐ŸŒฑ. They look thirsty. I have a Crown of Thorns, Pothos, Thanksgiving Cactus, various succulents and hens & chicks, Aloe Vera, Finger Jade, Spider Plant, and an Orchid that has never boomed. I would love to add to my collection.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tuesday August 20th, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Trash on a beach that could harm wildlife and wash into the ocean.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

Yesterday when I brought my Klean Kanteen water bottle to Dutch Bros to get a drink refill we exchanged conversation like we do with the staff. This time though the guy working the drive through window told me about his bracelet ๐Ÿ“ฟ he was wearing that he bought on 4Ocean. He told me that every bracelet purchased they remove a pound of trash from the ocean. They also give back to wildlife as well. Each bracelet has a different colored cord made from recycled plastic bottles and beads made from recycled glass bottles ♻️. He had bought one that benefited sharks. I think I might purchase a dolphin one to help 4Ocean fund their cause.

One of my biggest pet peeves are cigarettes ๐Ÿšฌ. I do not smoke and have never seen the appeal to it. To me it is a nasty habit that needs snuffing out. I have tried to understand why others around me do, but I guess I will never understand. I am allergic to tobacco smoke. I had asthma as a child and my grandmother smoked inside her home, so when ever we visited I would be bombarded with second hand smoke. She would try to take it outside while we were there, but the smell was in the walls, the furniture, their clothing, etc. I loved visiting her because I loved her, but I remember wishing she would quit smoking ๐Ÿšญ and that my grandpa would quit chewing tobacco. I wanted them to live longer. My grandma died when I was young. The cigarettes probably didn't help her. I also hate when smokers throw their cigarettes on the ground. Don't they understand that is littering!!?? The cigarette has a filter made of plastic that is not biodegradable. Not only that, but some of the chemicals that make up cigarettes are toxic to wildlife and can contaminate ground water and the environment.

My friend and I were talking about my desire to go plastic free and she said that she is using cloth menstrual products and love them. I had looked into cloth pads when I was doing cloth diapering with my kids, but I never took the plunge for some reason. I did previously try a menstrual cup but I fell out of habit of using it and since I have such heavy flows the menstrual cup was a bit impractical. I would like to once again pursue the cloth pad option instead. Regular mainstream feminine products cause so much waste and the companies that make them do not have to disclose what they actually make them out of. This information is not listed on the packaging and apparently doesn't have to be since they are considered a "medical device". I would feel better about using organic cloth ones that I could wash and reuse. They would be better for the environment and my health.

I hope your Tuesday is wonderful and relaxing.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday August 19th, 2019...Morning Thoughts

My Klean Kanteen water bottle. "More Ocean Less Plastic. The 5 Gyres Institute".

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I purchased this cute little frame ๐Ÿ–ผ️ in Ohio at Goodwill when I was out there visiting my husband's family. It is gold with small carved flowers. When I got home I realized that one of the pieces of art that I was looking for a frame for fit this perfectly and so I unstapled the back and placed the art in it. Then I used painters masking tape to hold the back to the frame. I did not want to staple the back to the art because that might have ruined it. I hung it up in my bedroom, but it fell apart off the wall yesterday. I am really glad it didn't break because it has a glass front. The back piece unfortunately only has a small sawtooth picture hanger on the back, but it didn't want to hold the weight of the whole frame. I think I need to find something that is more secure and maybe attached to the frame itself instead of the back. What do you use that works well and is secure for hanging your frames?

Yesterday I was very proud of myself. I finally remembered to use my reusable bottle at Dutch Bros for my Iced Apple Juice Chai I usually get. I wasn't sure they would fill it because it isn't one of their cups with a Dutch Bros logo on it, but they did. Unfortunately the drink I get is a 32 ounce usually and my reusable cup is a 27 ounce...so I was missing a little bit, but at least I am helping save the environment...maybe...you see, I watched them mix the drink and they used a plastic cup to do so, ugh! I might have to forgo going to Dutch Bros altogether. I could get the Oregon Chai and Apple juice at the store and mix it at home myself. I would miss the fun people working at Dutch Bros though and my husband loves going there. He probably won't ever stop getting his drink (a peppermint sprinkle freeze with whip) from Dutch Bros in a plastic cup with a plastic straw ๐Ÿฅค...unless Dutch Bros decides to change for the better. I wish corporations would be more environmentally conscience.

I also got some groceries yesterday at Winco and didn't use any bags ๐Ÿ›️ because I had forgot the reusable ones out of the back of my car again. I was loading my groceries into my cart and the cashier asked me why I wasn't using any bags. I said I wanted to be eco-friendly, but forgot my reusable totes and I was just going to load the groceries into a foldable, collapsible crate I have in the trunk anyway. We, however; forgot a few groceries and so we came back and this time I was prepared. I brought the totes into the store with me. I am becoming more consciously aware of all the plastic and Styrofoam packaging around me. I had to buy toilet tissue ๐Ÿงป and the affordable stuff is all wrapped in plastic...wish it wasn't. I really don't know why it has to be.

Happy Monday beautiful people! I hope your Monday is wonderful!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday August 18th, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Zari and her favorite zebra things.
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Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

My daughter, Zari, absolutely loves zebras ๐Ÿฆ“ and zebra print stuff because Zebra starts with Z just like her name. We currently have a wall going up to her and Teela's room that has a huge zebra art piece. She was looking for zebra things while we were at the Farmers Market yesterday and I found a perfect little art piece that she fell in love with. We have yet to find the perfect wall for it, but I think that I might paint a wall in their room and place it above their rolling clothes rack.

I had a spider ๐Ÿ•ท️ come down on its web from the ceiling while I was sitting at my desk and I felt a bit like Miss Muffet while she was eating her curds and whey. I freaked a little. I, however; have this cool little spider/bug catching device that I got a while back from blogging. It has a long handle on one side and a cup with a magnifying glass ๐Ÿ”Ž on the other. The handle has a lever that you slide and when you do you slide the cup closed or open depending upon the way you slide it. I have become a lot braver since I got this. I got that out, scooped up the spider, and escorted it outside.

I was going through some of my old photos and wishing that I had long hair again. I used to have hair that went down to my tush, but I cut it ๐Ÿ’‡ short back in 2014 and it hasn't grown very much since.

I feel like such a hypocrite! I just got a FinalStraw a few days ago in the mail. It is a neat foldable, collapsible, reusable straw complete with drying rack, cleaning squeegee, and case. I used it yesterday for my Dutch Bros drink, but I still felt bad because my cup and lid was plastic ๐Ÿฅค. I keep forgetting to bring my reusable cup. I also have an abundance of reusable grocery bags/totes that I have yet to use. People (and that includes me) these days are just not wired to do this naturally, but I would like it to become habit for me. I really want to change, but change is hard and sometimes I don't know where to start. Then there is the rest of my family that still uses all kinds of plastic stuff...and they say they care, but don't seem to want to change. Baby steps ๐Ÿ‘ฃ though and maybe, just maybe, I will inspire them to do the same for themselves.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday August 17th, 2019...Morning Thoughts

My goofy fur baby Prince.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I love going to the Farmers Markets. They are so much fun and I love seeing all the local farmers, gardeners, beekeepers, and artists there selling their wonderful plants, art, and homemade items. We have gone to the Clatskanie Farmers Market this year a lot. They have the "Power of Produce" program which provides kids 4-12 free $2 tokens for edible plants or food that has been grown. We bring our daughters, who are 11 and 8, so they can get something while they are there. The one across the river from where I live has their market on Tuesday as well and I need to remember that.

Longview Washington Squirrel Fest is today! I plan on making a point to getting over there to look at the fun vendors. Even though I love the festival, I don't really like the squirrels here...at least the ones we have at the farm. They are ground squirrels and like to dig in my gardens, under my trees, and under my home. They cause all sorts of damage and are very destructive even though they are very cute. We have an over abundance of them as well because we have a lot of old growth walnut trees on our property.

I have a ginger root that has sprouted. I need to break off that part and place it in a pot of dirt. Hopefully it thrives.

I love indoor houseplants and would love more to add to my growing collection. If anyone would like to send me cuttings I would be very appreciative. ๐ŸŒฑ

I am glad I took the Master Gardener course a while back. That was sure a wealth of information and I learned a great deal. I am also so glad that my husband was able to take the class with me. He is always so very busy, it is hard to find time to do things together anymore.

I need to start exercising regularly. I have a hard time being motivated enough on my own to do so though. I wish I had a friend that I could start exercising with. ๐Ÿ’ช

I wonder if it will rain at all this week. The sky looks a little angry over by the bridge, but that might clear up. Hopefully it does before we go to the market.

I love my dog, Prince. He can be a big goof sometimes, but he is the best dog ever and I am glad he is ours. We rescued him from a shelter about 10 years ago. He is a great companion. He is part standard poodle/part coonhound. He has soft floppy ears and a long tail that always is wagging. My kids adore him too. He is laying right next to my chair right now all curled up in a large fuzzy ball. He flipped over this morning so I could rub his belly and when I did it was all wags. ๐Ÿพ

Happy Saturday beautiful humans. I hope your day is filled with things that bring you joy & a happy heart. ๐Ÿค—

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday August 16th, 2019...Morning Thoughts

My photography of one of my zinnias with a lovely moth on it.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I should really start doing more art. I used to draw a lot in high school and art was and still is my favorite subject.

I wish I still had a violin to play. Delbin, my son, will rarely let me play on his. I used to play in 6th-12th grades. I miss it so very much. On that note ๐ŸŽต I want to someday be able to read music. I have a gift of being able to play by ear.

My garden is looking better and better all the time. Although I would like to plant more flowers and next year I need to start earlier with the veggies. Here is a photo I took of one of my zinnias with a lovely moth on it.

I love the art that my friends have made me. I also love all my artistic friends that I have made recently. I hope to someday fill my home with gorgeous art.

I am craving zucchini ๐Ÿฅ’, and since I neglected to plant any this year I hope some of my local friends see this and have some extra for me ๐Ÿ˜€.

My kitchen still isn't done and I have been without a kitchen sink since April. On the bright side I am supposed to get my new kitchen cabinets in sometime this month...and then hopefully they can be installed.

The Hepa filter I have is always so very loud and it is right next to me when I am sitting at my desk.

Thank you to my friend, Amber Bryce, who inspired me to do this today. I hope I can keep it up.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Memoria Press Third Grade Literature Guide Set Review


My family had the privilege of trying the Third Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press which includes the Charlotte’s Web Literature Guide Set for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.




Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy-to-use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. It was founded by a woman named Cheryl Lowe in 1994. They currently have preschool through ninth grade in most of their curriculum and some through twelfth grade. They also cover subjects in: Classical Core Curriculum, Latin, Classical Studies, Christian Studies, Logic & Rhetoric, Phonics & Early Reading, Penmanship, Literature & Poetry, American & Modern Studies, Writing & English Grammar, Science & Math, Greek, Modern Languages, Educational Resources, eBooks, Special-Needs, and Art & Music.

Memoria Press Third Grade Literature Guide Set with Novels

The Third Grade Literature Guide Set consists of four student study guides and four teacher guides for use with classical books that would be slightly above the average third grade readers comfort level. This is supposed to help challenge them and give them a deeper understanding and satisfaction of reading classical literature in turn developing the student into superior readers. The reading guides require one to read while having an active, perceptive mind that is challenged to think, compare, and contrast. The guides focus on vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, and composition skills. These student study guides are all consumable workbooks and have Teaching Guidelines at the beginning to help you through each lesson. Each lesson correlates with a chapter in the book. Some of the guides even have Enrichment activities throughout them to go into even more depth into learning. You can get a feel for content by downloading one of their samples on the site. The set we received did not include the classical books, but you can purchase them separately, check them out of the library, or get the whole set with the novels from Memoria Press. All the guides go well together in this set because of their wonderful classical nature. Each book is intended to take 6-7 weeks.


Third Grade Literature Guide Set Contents:
  • Farmer Boy Student Study Guide (91 pages, 29 chapters, 3 quizzes and a final, vocabulary crosswords, and an appendix)
  • Farmer Boy Teacher Guide (135 pages, 29 chapter lesson key, quiz review key, vocabulary crosswords key, appendix, discussion questions key, quizzes and final test, quizzes and final test key)
  • Charlotte's Web Student Study Guide (74 pages, 22 chapters, 3 quizzes and a final, vocabulary crosswords, and an appendix)
  • Charlotte's Web Teacher Guide (117 pages, 22 chapter lesson key, quiz review key, vocabulary crosswords key, appendix, discussion questions key, quizzes and final test, quizzes and final test key)
  • A Bear Called Paddington Student Study Guide (25 pages, 8 chapters, and an appendix)
  • A Bear Called Paddington Teacher Guide (50 pages, 8 chapter lesson key, an appendix, and a teachers key: discussion questions key, quizzes and final test, quizzes and final test key)
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins Student Study Guide (50 pages, 20 chapters)
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins Teacher Guide (77 pages, 20 chapter lesson key, and a teachers key: discussion questions key, quizzes and final test, quizzes and final test key)

Charlotte's Web Student Study Guide, Teacher Guide, and Book.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

Memoria Press was very generous in sending us the entire 3rd grade level set, even though they knew I would not use more than one book title during the review period. For this review I picked out the book Charlotte's Web by E.B. White to use with the Charlotte's Web Student Guide and Teacher Guide. I was fortunate enough to already have had the book on my shelf and Zari had not read it yet. The Teacher Guide, which had all of the answers in it for the Student Study Guide was a tremendous help and even though I too decided to read the book along with my daughter I could see that you could use it even without reading the book yourself. I remember reading this book a long time ago, but it had been a while for me.

Zari doing the Charlotte's Web Student Study Guide.

My daughter, Zari, is going into third grade so naturally we used this with her. I wanted to also know what was going on in the book so I read each chapter before she did. We went chapter by chapter through the book this way. After each chapter we would work in the Charlotte's Web Student Study Guide on the pages that correlated with the chapter we just got done reading. The student study guide is a consumable workbook and this particular one was one of the longest in the set with 74 pages. Zari did fairly well with the reading, vocabulary, and comprehension. She needed a little help on the composition part of it because of sentence structure. I did not do any of the Enrichment Activities with Zari yet because I wanted to make sure we would have time to do the rest of the Student Study Guide. However, the enrichment activities, like: drawing a spider diagram sounded like a lot of fun. The enrichment activities include composition, copywork, dictation, research, mapping, drawing, poetry work, literary terms, etc. We will come back to these and do them too at a later time.

Charlotte's Web Student Study Guide Layout and Book.

I was amazed at how complex these Student Study Guides were. The questions were very well thought out and challenged my daughter to think a lot more for each answer than she is used to. The Teaching Guidelines at the front of the Student Guide was very helpful at showing us what the sequence of things should be. It says to first review previous vocabulary orally, chapter plots, characters, settings, before reading each consecutive chapters. Then after the review of the previous chapters you are to look at the study guide and preview what is in it for the next chapter you will be reading. While the student reads they are to make note of the vocabulary words in the guide and where the comprehension questions that come up are. After reading you do the student guide with your student. It says that third graders should have help occasionally to come up with synonyms and forming good sentences orally before writing them down. Each lesson has sections on Reading Notes, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, Quotations, Discussion Questions, and Enrichment. The accompanying teacher guides definitely help me as they have all the answers in them. We also loved looking through the appendix as it has fun extras like: a biographical sketch about the author, about spiders, poems that go with the story, and parts of a spider.

I highly recommend the Memoria Press Second Grade Literature Guide Set to anyone who is homeschooling or doing supplemental work at home. These Literature Sets would also be great during Summer Vacation if you don't homeschool. The classical education is some of my favorite literature curriculum in my eclectic afterschooling ways. Everything that I have tried so far from Memoria Press I have loved. They have wonderful curriculum for k-12 homeschooling. Thanks again Memoria Press for being so generous in giving us the opportunity to look over the whole set. We can't wait to start Farmer Boy next in this set!!

BUY IT
Third Grade Literature Guide Set with Novels is $125 and without Novels is $95.

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First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Home School in the Woods Project Passport World History Studies: Ancient Rome Review


My family had the privilege of trying the Project Passport World History Studies Ancient Rome from Home School in the Woods for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum at home. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Home School in the Woods is a family run business that creates Christian based history curriculum for homeschooling. This curriculum immerses your student in the topic. It is very hands-on with lapbooks, timelines, recipes, art, creative writing, notebook projects, dramatized audio theater, maps, crafts, projects, re-enactments, file-folder games, vocabulary to learn, etc.

There are icons that help along one side and buttons that link to nice clear photos of the finished projects.

The Project Passport World History Studies are a virtual trip through history. These are recommended for grades 3-8. There are two different versions you can purchase, a CD version or a digital download version. With the CD version everything that you access and print is on the CD. With the digital download version you download a zipped file, place all of the contents into a folder on your computer, and access it by the start.htm file that is in that folder. We received the digital download version. This "trip" is supposed to last roughly 8-12 weeks depending upon how quickly everything is completed. For Each Project Passport World History Study you make a passport and "luggage" folder to hold some of the stuff you print off and make along the journey. Each "trip" has 25 chapters called "stops", where you observe action-packed events and meet fascinating people along the way. At each stop you come to there will be "Guide Book Text" which is information for the student to read about a certain topic explored and a "Travel Itinerary" that covers the project choices and directions. There are also helpful icons that let you know what you will be doing and color photos of all the completed projects so you know how they are supposed to look like when finished. There are a lot of printables of information and projects to do. Masters are available for all printables. There are so many things to do on the trip, for example: creating a "Scrapbook of Sights" (notebook for storing the notebook projects), dining on local cuisine with the "Dining out Guide" (recipes to create food and drink that was popular in the area at the time), taking pictures ("Snapshot Moments in History" scrapbook timeline), reporting on important people and happenings (a newspaper creative writing assignment - In the Ancient Rome study it is called "The Roman Tribune"), making "souvenirs" to remember your stay (craft/art projects), dressing like the locals (clothing of the era: fun dress up craft), making a lapbook, playing games (file-folder games), collecting postcards, listening to tour guides (dramatized audio theater - there are 8 of these), and so much more!

We found that there was a lot of preparation that needed to happen before getting started. There is a lot of things needing printed, items needing prepared for crafts and other projects, and general preparation of materials before one can begin the journey. The Travel Itinerary and Travel Planner: Quick Stop Itinerary helps with this a lot!

You will need a few items to get you through the lessons:
  • Working Printer
  • Color and Black Ink for the printer to cover all the printing that will be happening
  • White and Colored Printer Paper
  • White and Colored Cardstock (this is best, but admittedly we didn't have any of this and used only white printer paper and it worked OK)
  • One 3-Ring Binder for the Guide Book (teacher binder for Introduction, Travel Tips, Travel Planner: Quick Stop Itinerary, Travel Itinerary, Guide Book Text, and Additional Resources)
  • One 3-Ring Binder for the Scrapbook of Sights (student binder for all notebook projects)
  • Colored File Folders or Colored Pocket Folders with Fasteners
  • Scissors and/or an X-acto Knife (when using an X-acto Knife you will need a thick piece of cardboard or self healing mat to use as a cutting surface)
  • Crayons, Markers, or Colored Pencils to color the pictures, if desired
  • Glue
  • Other Craft supplies specified for each of the different projects that your student wants to do
This is what the Project Passport World History Studies: Ancient Rome covers:
  1. Laying the Foundation (Packing for the Trip)
  2. Out with the Kings, In with the Republic!
  3. More than Just a City
  4. A Mediterranean Power
  5. The Republic Begins to Falter
  6. Julius Caesar and the Fall of the Republic
  7. Everyday Life - Part 1
  8. Everyday Life - Part 11
  9. Business, Taxes, and Coins
  10. Law and Philosophy
  11. Education, Oration, and Literature
  12. Science and Medicine
  13. The Arts
  14. Architecture and Transportation
  15. Religion
  16. Warfare
  17. Augustus and the Empire
  18. The Julio Claudian Emperors
  19. The Year of the Four Emperors and the Flavians
  20. The Five Good Emperors
  21. Too Many Emperors to Count
  22. From Constantine to the Barbarian Invasions
  23. Rome and the Bible
  24. And What Happened After?
  25. The Final Stop - Packing Up!
How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I enlisted my daughter Zari who finished 2nd grade this past school year to learn about Ancient Rome, the newest Project Passport Study from Home School in the Woods, since she loved listening to and helping out with the other studies before. This is supposed to be for 3rd through 8th graders so she did need my help with some of the more advanced projects and writing assignments and it took her a lot longer to get through some of the stops than it might have taken for my older kids. I learned quite a bit too while helping her with this study.

Zari coloring the Scrapbook of Sights Cover.

This study, like all the other ones we did, was jam packed with information. I am glad that I already had experience doing this type of program because everything seemed to go faster. The instructions are not hard, but there is a lot of things to set up and print out initially and throughout the program....so be aware of that and set some time aside initially to get things done so you are not overwhelmed. We still have not gotten through all the stops, but we have enjoyed everything that we have done thus far. I love that it is from a biblical Christian perspective too.

Zari making the Roman Clothed Paper Dolls.

Zari really liked our project time together. She loves art and making things. She loved dressing up as a Roman Woman. Dressing up in period clothing is a great way to learn history. We are on a very tight budget for everything, including afterschooling, because my husband is doing school himself and not currently working so we don't have a lot to spend on extras at the moment. Because of this our dress up didn't look quite like the one in the picture. We used sheets instead of muslin and it was a reasonable facsimile...hey, we improvised with what we had. The other project that was her favorite was the "Roman Clothing & Accessories" paper dolls. She learned a lot about: how the Ancient Romans dressed, what they believed, what they ate, what wars they had, what their homes looked like, what jobs they had, what they used as transportation, their currency, their education, and so much more! There were so many projects to do to go with all the reading, creative writing, and listening to the audio tours. We did so many fun things and learned so much about the culture so far. I can't wait to get all the way through the whole program with my daughter. We really want to try the recipes "Recline and Dine" cookbook. It is great to add interest to history with recipes. in the We are looking forward to learning more about Ancient Rome.

Zari dressing up as a Roman Woman.

I highly recommend the Project Passport World History Studies: Ancient Rome from Home School in the Woods. This is great for anyone homeschooling who might need some help with teaching Ancient Rome in a highly educational, fun, and very hands-on way. This would also be perfect for those wanting something fun to do with their kids in the summer time. I am looking forward to reviewing more from Home School in the Woods in the future.

BUY IT
You can purchase the download version of the Project Passport World History Studies: Ancient Rome for $33.95 and CD version for $34.95.

Download the scope and sequence, listen to a sample audio tour, see photo examples of projects, and watch a video of "What is a Project Passport" when you click the link above, to get more of an idea about the program.

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Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for Home School in the Woods...
World History (Project Passport), U.S. History Studies (Time Travelers) and Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures  {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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