Lightning Literature and Composition

We are big readers in this house and are always at the library checking out books. Some of the reading is for fun and other times it's required reading for school. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a lit course for my girls this coming school year so I was excited  to be given the opportunity to review Lightning Literature and Composition-Grade 8 from Hewitt Homeschooling.

What is it?

Lightning Lit & Comp is a full year course for 8th and 9th graders that is designed to help develop a love and understanding of literature while exposing the student to different kinds of literature that they might not have read on their own. It's also a way to help them become better writers by reading different genres of stories and books as well as practicing different writing techniques. Lightning Lit takes what a student reads and helps them dig deeper into the book through a variety of methods and exercises.

We received 3 books for this level:
This course covers several books:
  • Stories & Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children (a book of short stories & poems)
  • Treasure Island
  • A Day of Pleasure
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Hobbit
  • My Family and Other Animals
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
The student guide breaks each book or short story down into different sections that include an introduction to what is being read, a vocabulary list (which you could turn into your own vocab/spelling list), comprehension questions, a literary lesson, a mini-lesson and a variety of writing lessons. There isn't any writing in this book though the student completes different exercises in a notebook or on paper.

The student workbook is a consumable book that has the student working on grammar, analyzing parts of the book, doing crossword puzzles, short writing exercises and discovering the author's purpose just to name a few things. These activities vary by book which in my opinion keeps things new and engaging for the student.

The teachers guide contains a weekly planning schedule for 36 weeks as well as all the answers to everything the student completes in the workbook. It also has the discussion questions that aren't listed in the students book.

How did we use it?

The first story that was covered was A Crazy Tale from the book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children.  Because this book is used interspersed between the full books throughout this course, I decided to buy it as we would be using it often. (hint, it's easy and inexpensive to find used online). All the other books in this curriculum are easily found at our local library though when purchasing this course, you do have the option of buying this course with all the literature books included.

I used this course with one of my 14 year old daughters about 3 times a week (only because it was summertime, during the school year it will be every day). She enjoyed diving into not only her reading assignments but looked forward to what the student guide & workbook taught her. She felt that the "clues in the story" section helped teach her to really pay attention to what she was reading and looking beyond just the words on the page and really see what the author was trying to convey. At the end of the 1st chapter in the student guide, it taught her how to take notes which was something she hadn't done much of in a while. Also included at the end of each chapter is several writing exercises you or your child can choose to complete. If you didn't have a writing curriculum you were using, you could easily use these exercises to fulfill a writing course!

I enjoyed the discussion questions that were in the teacher guide as being able to converse about the book showed me how much she was understanding about what she had read. I have also taken the vocabulary words and plugged them into the curriculum she uses for spelling & vocab. I love being able to take what we are using in one subject and use it for another subject.

My thoughts?

Bottom line, this curriculum has been a huge hit in our house! In fact, a few weeks after we started using it, I decided to go ahead and purchase Lightning Lit for two of my other children for this coming school year. I love the ease of use and how well everything is clearly laid out in not only the student books but the teachers guide. It makes this curriculum one you can just pick up and teach. Being a busy mom, not having to plan out the lessons is something I appreciate! Also, at this level, my daughter was able to do most of everything on her own. I also love the great literature these courses cover and am looking forward to this coming school year and seeing what all my children will learn!

Check out Hewitt Homeschool to see all the grades & curriculums they offer!

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Analytical Grammar

As my children have approached middle school and now with 2 of them starting high school this coming school year, we've had to work on expanding their writing skills and learning to write longer reports. We have tried several different programs over the years but have been keeping our eyes open for something new to use. Analytical Grammar recently came out with a new curriculum called Beyond the Book Report.
What is it?

Beyond the Book Report (BBR) is a DVD based middle school and early high school language arts curriculum. This program can be used over 2-3 years starting in 6th/7th grade or used as little as 1 year for a high schooler. The curriculum comes with a schedule detailing how to make that happen. BBR is divided up into 3 seasons. Each season comes with a teachers packet that has a schedule of what to teach when as well as examples of each activity the student will be learning in that season. Also included is a DVD that has the video lectures, PDF files to print out and activities to complete. 

  • Season 1 covers a basic book report (which includes learning how to paraphrase a paragraph & summarize a book), a pamphlet book report and a journalism book report. 
  • Season 2 covers poetry book report (where the student writes 4 different kinds of poems based on a book they read) and drama book report (which also includes going over Shakespeare's A  Midsummer Night's Dream). 
  • Season 3 covers essays (including how to write an SAT essay), oral reports (which includes public speaking with a powerpoint slide presentation) and research papers (as well as how to write an argumentative research paper). This season could also be used without the first two seasons as a way to prep an early high schooler for later high school/college writing.
The teachers guide really makes implementing this curriculum an easy process. It outlines what to cover each day such as watching a video on the DVD (it also states how long the video is) and the activities the student should complete. In the back of the teachers packet is completed examples of what the students work should look like (great help for the teacher!) as well as a glossary of terms that they may come across. Also included with each type of report the student writes is a rubric for not only them to use as a guideline when writing but for the teacher to use when grading the reports!

Beyond the Book Report

How did we use this?

When we received the curriculum, I took all three seasons of teachers packets (that came already hole punched) and put them into a small binder so the pages wouldn't get lost. I printed out the lecture slides for my 14 year old so she could take notes while watching the videos. I watched the first video with her in case she had any questions. The DVD was easy to use as the videos & printouts are clearly labeled so you know exactly which file to watch or print. The lectures are taught by the authors, a mother-daughter team who have many years of experience teaching grammar and language arts in the classroom. They were easy to listen to and taught their points in a straightforward way (no frills or flashy videos). 

She used BBR about 3 days a week during the review. How fast you go through each season is dependant on which schedule you choose to follow (taking 2-3 years for all the seasons). After starting this review, I realized how much we liked it and decided that we are going to use this for 3 of my children this coming school year following the 2 year teaching schedule. Because this is a DVD based program with PDF files, you can use this curriculum with more than one child which in my opinion makes this a great curriculum for families with multiple children!

My daughter choose Night of the Twisters by Amy Ruckman to do her book report on. As she read through the book, she kept her eye out for a paragraph to paraphrase and took notes on key points so she could write a summary when she was done. She also had a lit worksheet she had to complete as she read the book which included jotting a few sentences down on the conflict, point of view, protagonist, antagonist and the climax/turning point. The teachers guide also suggested having the student write down study questions as they read the book or to make up a crossword puzzle with things from the book (she choose to make a crossword puzzle and gave it to her sister to fill out as she also read the same book recently!)

While you can use Beyond the Book Report alone, the authors suggest pairing it up with Analytical Grammar for a well rounded language arts program (which I also just purchased to use for one of my children this coming school year).

Each season of Beyond the Book Report is available for $24.95 or purchase all 3 seasons as a bundle for $69.95.
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Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms

Many of you in the homeschool realm are familiar with Apologia Educational Ministries, especially their wonderful science curriculum. You might not know they also carry a range of other books such as their Worldview Curriculum or their recently published Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms that I recently had the chance to read and review.

Flourish:A Balance for Homeschool Moms was written by Mary Jo Tate who is homeschooling mom to her 4 sons. She an author of several books as well as an international editor. She also hosts the show "Flourish at Home" on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. She wrote this book as a way to help homeschooling moms  "stop enduring the journey and start enjoying it". She shares practical ways to achieve better time management in a moms everyday life.
The 289 page book contains 16 chapters and in the table of contents, each chapter lists subtitles of what is covered in that chapter. 
  1. An Invitation to Flourish
  2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
  3. The Freedom Toolbox
  4. Where Did My Time Go?
  5. Aim High: Setting Goals
  6. What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  7. We Interrupt This Program
  8. It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  9. Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
  10. Training Your Children
  11. Making Memories
  12. Managing Your Home
  13. All of Life is Learning
  14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
  15. Home Business
  16. Moving Ahead
Flourish Balance for Homeschool Moms

While reading this book, I felt like I was chatting with a long time friend over a cup of coffee. Mary Jo Tate shares a lot of her own experiences in each chapter. I found myself relating and even chuckling over her stories or analogies (like the story of her cat catching on fire!) Throughout the book there are small boxes with thought provoking quotes which I looked forward to reading with each turn of the page. She also shares Bible verses that go along with what she is talking about in each chapter.

At the end of each chapter, there is a Take Action section. This usually involved answering some questions that made you self-reflect and really think about what you had just read. Sometimes this section also involved a challenge to change or do something different.

The back of the book contains additional resources as well as planning forms (which can also be downloaded online and customized when you purchase the book).

My Thoughts

This book has been such an encouragement as well as an eye opener for me. A few of the authors points really hit home with me. She said that by saying yes to something means I am saying no to something else. How often do we as moms feel like we need to stretch ourselves thin by taking on too much just because we feel "that is what we are supposed to do"? As Mary Jo stated,

 "Opportunity does not equal obligation. Saying no to some things allows you to say yes to more important things".

This sentence was freeing and is helping to change my outlook on things I say yes to.

Another one of her encouraging quotes I have been trying to focus on is:

"Find peace in the space between the ideal and reality"

Let that sink in a second, I know I had to. We all have the idea of what we want our lives to look like but let's be real, most of the time our reality doesn't match up. And that is ok! Mary Jo shares practical ways to help find the balance in our everyday life. She encourages moms to set specific goals and makes it a point to remind us that we need to make time and care for ourselves as a person as well. She speaks from experience as a homeschooling mom who has been in the trenches and faced trials which makes her advice applicable to moms like myself.

While this book is geared towards homeschooling moms, any mom would benefit from reading it especially if you feel like you need a practical way to recharge and reorganize your daily life. I think this would be a great book to read along with a close friend so you could discuss it together while keeping each other accountable to the changes you make.

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Ava's 1st Birthday

I realize I am really behind on sharing some personal things lately. Such is life! The time between May & July is a precarious & bittersweet time for me. But I am trying to play catch up now!

I can hardly believe my 7th baby is already ONE YEAR OLD!!! This sweet girl grew in the blink of an eye it seems. She is now walking about 90% of the time and is using several signs to communicate. She has 4 teeth and is just an absolute doll! Ava loves to cuddle and is still nursing. She readily follows her older siblings around and tries her hardest to keep up with them.

The lucky girl got to have 2 birthday parties this year! Her actual birthday fell on a Tuesday (June 3rd) so we just had a family party then. Since we were going camping just 2 days later with our co-op family, we then had a party that Friday evening where I cooked some yummy bbq chicken over the fire and we all celebrated this sweet blessing together. Sadly, it was raining that night so I was concentrating on keeping the food warm & dry and wasn't able to get photos of the actual party.

Here are a few photos from her photoshoot that I did:
Gotta love her reaction when she first saw her birthday cake I made!

She is such a ham and is always smiling!

Her 1 candle lit as we sang to her!

This is the first set of flowers (along with a balloon and teddy) she received from my dear "sister" Ashlee and  her son CJ, Ava's little boyfriend (they are exactly 4 weeks apart). She was so enamored with this gift!!!

Check out a close up of the flower, how flipping adorable!!! Thank you Ashlee for being such a blessing to us!!!

Thank you to the many of you who celebrated Ava's life with us through texts, cards & facebook messages! We love & appreciate ya'll so much!!

 My sweet Ava Hope, your little life has blessed me in ways you will never know. Just as your middle name says, you have helped renew my Hope. I can already see in your personality God has great things planned for your life and I look forward to seeing you grow into your toddler years. I love watching you explore the world around you. It's such a breath of fresh air getting on your level and seeing things through your eyes. I am humbled to have been blessed to be your mom & I pray I can help guide you to be the child Jesus wants you to be.

I love you now & forever!


I have been playing piano since I was 10 years old and it is something some of my children have expressed interest in learning. We finally got a piano several years ago so I have been teaching them some things here and there but they have needed something more consistent. The problem is, piano lessons get expensive especially when you have more than one child taking them. Imagine my surprise when I heard about HomeSchoolPiano that offers online piano lessons! We were recently given a lifetime subscription to HomeSchoolPiano- Complete Set of Books to review.

What is HomeSchoolPiano?

HSP is a lifetime subscription to online piano lessons taught by Willie Myette, a graduate of Berklee College of Music. He focuses on a 6 step cycle laying a solid foundation to help the student master and enjoy playing the piano.

  • Technique
  • Rhythm
  • Ear Training
  • Reading Music
  • Song
  • Improvisation

These piano lessons are for any ages, from a beginner all the way through intermediate. All you need is at minimum a 49 key keyboard/piano, an internet connection and some sort of device to watch the lessons on such as a computer, smartphone or tablet.

What all is included?

HSP includes all the video lessons as well as 3 PDF download lesson books you can print out if you desire. Each book has 6 units in it in which those units then are broken down into lessons. Also included is CorePiano which is video lessons going over the very basics of piano which is good for someone brand new or needing a refresher on the core fundamentals of piano. Each of the units also include 6 songs for a total of 18 for this whole curriculum. There is also Jam Tracks for each book & CorePiano that you can download and play along with.

How does this work?

Accessing the piano lessons simply requires a login and password. From there, you can manage your students by setting them up with their own account. The great thing about HSP is that you are given lifetime memberships for up to 5 students! Once each child has their own login, they are ready to start their lesson. They can start wherever you feel they would best fit. Each lesson is approximately 10 minutes long. You will see Willie himself in the bottom lefthand corner. Above him is a view looking straight down on the keyboard so you can see him as he plays. The view above this is a virtual keyboard that highlights and names the notes as he plays. After the student is done with the lesson, they are sometimes given assignments or even quizzes to take.

click on photo to enlarge

The wonderful thing about having the video lessons is that you can watch it as many times as needed, skip things you are already proficient at or pause mid-video to try out a technique. How fast or slow you go through the lessons is completely up to you. The next time you log back on HSP, it automatically takes you to where you last left off. You also have the ability to download each lesson if you wanted to. The PDF books that come with HSP can be viewed on any device or you can have them printed out (which makes it easier for reviewing and playing at the piano).

How did we use this?

After I got my children each logged in (ages 14, 14 & 13), they chose to use the iPad to view their lessons while sitting right at our piano. Even though they can read music and have had some instruction in the past, they decided to start off with CorePiano to make sure they weren't missing anything. They did occasionally skip something they felt they knew pretty well. CorePiano covers things such as hand placement, how to read the notes, how to sit at the piano, the pedals, sharps and flats, 5 finger scale, rhythms and many other things that a beginner would need to learn.

One of my girls then moved onto Book 1 that taught further how to read music, improvise and create your own music and also included 6 pieces of music as well. We had our book printed out double sided. I let her decide how fast she wanted to move through each lesson. On average, she completed about 2-3 lessons a week during the review but practiced what she learned on the days in between. My daughter sometimes replayed some of the video while she practiced along. Even though I am pretty proficient at playing, I admit I jumped into the sections that covered ear training and improvisation mainly because I was never taught that when I took lessons and I was wanting to learn! I loved how he took the song he was presenting in the lesson, showed the chords and explained how you could then become creative in not only how you played the notes but in the rhythm you played it in.

Another thing to note was that at any time I could log on and view just where each of my children were at in their lessons and how much of it they completed as well as the date they started & completed the lesson and the score they received on their quiz. I also have the ability to print this out which is a great thing to put in their portfolio.

What did we think?

We thoroughly enjoyed the way Willie taught the different techniques. He was easy to listen to and made practicing piano fun! I love the fact that we have a lifetime subscription for 5 children. That makes this extremely affordable not to mention we save gas & time traveling to a music teachers house. He also highly encourages the student to have fun with the music and to write their own compositions which is something one of my daughters is currently working on.

Check out the free lesson to see if HomeSchoolPiano would be a good fit for your family!

HomeSchoolPiano- Complete Set of Books is for all ages from beginner to intermediate. The Lifetime Subscription is $299 or 3 monthly payments of $99.97.

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"L" is for Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Who doesn't love some buffalo chicken wings? What about a deliciously loaded baked potato? Both of those foods taste amazing on their own but how about we kick it up a notch taking these two dishes and combining them into one out-of-this-world casserole!!

loaded potato and buffalo chicken casserole

You have the crispy potato chunks layered with moist, seasoned chicken with lots of cheese & bacon on top, YUM!!!

The key to getting crispy potato chunks is that you roast them before adding the rest of the dish on top. I have found the way to make this go quicker is by using my convection bake option on my oven (though the recipe is written for using just the regular bake but I thought I'd share that little tip in case your oven has the convection option.)

This recipe is for an 8x8 dish. Double if you want a 9x13 pan.

1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes  (I leave the skin on) 
3 Tbsp oil (or olive oil)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (reg would work too)
1 TBS. garlic powder
4 TBS.wing sauce

1c shredded cheese of your choice
1/2  c. cooked crumbled bacon
1/2 c diced scallion (which is about 1 full piece)

Preheat oven to 475.  In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic salt, pepper & hot sauce. Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat.  Using a slotted spoon, carefully scoop the potatoes into an 8x8 baking dish, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mix as possible (there won't be a whole lot there).  Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy & browned on the outside. 

 While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat. Feel free to toy around with your seasonings. I have even added a little bbq sauce to this part just to change things up.  Once the potatoes are looking nice & crispy, remove them from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400F.  Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken. 

In a bowl mix together the cheese, bacon & green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mix.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious. You can also serve this with some extra hot sauce or ranch dressing!

"K" is for "Korean Egg Drop Soup"

I had forgotten about this soup until I whipped it up just the other day. It comes together SO easy with some leftover chicken or turkey! In fact, I make my own bone broth and freeze containers of it so that made this an even healthier option. Add in some canned or frozen peas, some scallions from the garden and BAM! A healthy, filling soup full of flavor yet low on calories. It's weight watcher & Trim Healthy Mama friendly!

korean egg drop soup

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey chopped
1/2- 1 cup baby peas
1-2 eggs lightly beaten
scallions chopped

In a saucepan, bring stock & soy sauce to a boil. Add chicken, peas & green onion. Return to boil.  Slowly drizzle in beaten eggs around the pan and allow to set (about a minute). Remove from heat. Garnish with extra scallions if desired. (want it spicy, add some red pepper flakes).

10 Things About Me- Grief Aside

Many women in the bereaved mother's world would tell you the day your child died signifies a poignant mark in the timeline of your life. Forever more, I will look at my life (and am viewed as) before Noah's death and after Noah's death. While grief is an interwoven part of me, it doesn't define me. Yes I am a changed person but I DO laugh and DO enjoy life. Because I've gained many dear friends in the days after Noah's death, I am often viewed as "the babyloss mom" as many of you didn't know me before I had Noah.

I am linking up with Carly Marie from Still Standing Magazine to share 10 things about me outside of grief, especially for those who may have only known me since Noah died.

1. Where have you traveled to?
I love to travel and have been traveling internationally since I was 16, both for mission work as well as vacations. I have even had the opportunity of visiting some of the same places more than once!
-Mexico (missions)
-Peru (missions for 6 months)
-Paraguay (mission)
-St. Thomas
-St. Maarten/St. Marten (same island, 2 different countries)
-Puerto Rico
-Dominican Republic
And Lord willing, we will be visiting 4 new countries this year!


2. Sweet or Savoury?
Definitely Savoury or rather spicy for sure!! I don't have a sweet tooth at all and I can bake up a ton of goodies and not be tempted to eat them (not that I don't enjoy a treat once in a great while).  I am a pretty health conscious person so I tend to eat fairly healthy (as seen by many of my recipes that I share.)

3. What are you reading right now? 
I am reading  Flourish- Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate (an upcoming review that will be posted on my blog).

4. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? 
My best friend Ashlee for sure! She lives in another state so we don't get to see each other often unfortunately.

5. What is your favourite food? 
I like anything & everything, especially trying new foods. But I love a true Philly Italian hoagie from Lee's in Philly. I also LOVE sushi and spicy Mexican food!

6. Favourite music?
I grew up listening to a wide variety of music and therefore love a lot of different kinds but I think my favorite CD that I got when I was about 17 as a gift was Kenny's G's "The Moment". There is just something soothing about listening to his saxaphone music. (I also play sax so I have a love for it). I converted the CD to play on my iPhone's iPod so I am still listening to it all these years later!

7. What does your dream house look like?
It would be a farmhouse style with a big wrap-around porch, many bedrooms, a HUGE kitchen with dual wall ovens, a sun porch and enough land for some chickens, a huge garden and maybe a pony! Someday!

8. What are you passionate about? 
-breaking the silence surrounding infant death & making sure others have the support and guidance I missed out on especially early on.
-carseat safety; as an EMT, I've witnessed children's deaths that could've been prevented by proper carseat/booster seat usage (keep your kiddos in a booster until they are 80lbs!!!!)
-parenting my children, loving them unconditionally & raising them to be who God wants them to be!

9. Your dream job? 
Ultimately a midwife in a hospital setting but realistically what I am aiming for now is an RN working in labor & delivery.

10.What have you been procrastinating on? 
Many things, ha, but redoing my kitchen as far as repainting walls & cabinets. Overall pairing down on "things" and decluttering would take second place. Not so much procrastinating on but just lacking the extra time would be more accurate.

I am Still Standing in loving memory of my precious 
Noah Alexander: 

Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page

Our family enjoys learning through a variety of methods, one of which is hands-on. So when we were recently told about Moving Beyond the Page, I was excited to try their curriculum out. We chose to review a Science Package- Weather and Climate and a Language Arts Package- An Independent Study

What is Moving Beyond the Page?

Their name says it all! They take learning to a whole new level (beyond the page) with a hands-on and engaging curriculum. It is a literature based homeschool curriculum for ages 4-14. They offer a variety of ways to use their curriculum. You can purchase a complete program for your child or you can choose to use their unit studies to supplement what you are already doing. They not only offer physical curriculum but an online option as well.

Moving Beyond the Page covers science, language arts, social studies as well as offering math and reading for the 5-8 year olds. Their comprehensive curriculum meets state and national standards. What makes their complete homeschool curriculum unique is the way they integrate science, social studies and language art in a unit studies approach. For example, a student may study tornados in science while doing a language art study on a fictitious book about a character experiencing a tornado. While many of the unit studies compliment each other, they can also be used alone.

How the online curriculum works:

When I first logged on for our online Language Arts Package- Independent Study, I was overwhelmed at all the information that was there. The online curriculum provides the lessons for the student as well as the student activity sheets that can be downloaded and printed.

(click photo to enlarge)

The above photo is a picture of what your table of contents screen looks like and where you start. While there is a lot of information, it was organized and easy to navigate. You could print out all the student activity pages right from here or throughout the lessons when the pages were needed, an icon was on the screen to download the page at that time. We chose just to download the pages as needed. It also told you about how much time it takes to do each lesson. In a whole, Moving Beyond the Pages state that each of these unit studies takes approximately 3 weeks from start to finish.

My oldest daughter chose to review this so I sat down with her for the first lesson in case she had any questions. She had no problem doing the lessons on her own as the curriculum guides her what to do next.

(click photo to enlarge)

Each lesson gives an intro of what the student will be learning as well as listing the supplies that are needed, different activities to complete both online as well as writing projects and a conclusion at the end of the lesson. She then had the option to click "lesson complete" and it crossed off that lesson on the main page. Each time you logged in you were taken right back to where you last left off so you didn't have to click through to find your place.

As you can see in the above photo on the bottom right corner, there is a section for "idea share" where previous users of this curriculum may have shared something that they did with this lesson or a resource they used. Likewise we also had the ability to share ideas we may have done to help other users of this curriculum.

We appreciated the activities section and how the student was given the option of 2 activities and could choose which one she wanted to complete. This made it easier to adapt to my daughter's abilities and learning style.

For this Independent Study that my daughter completed, she got to dive into both online news websites as well as perusing the newspaper to better understand what & how propaganda & bias techniques are used by the media and advertisers. Throughout this unit study, all the activities were leading up to the final project at the end. She was taken through the research process of how to write a persuasive paper on the topic that she chose of illegal immigration and better border patrol. 

How we used the physical curriculum:

My daughter absolutely loves learning about the weather so it was a no-brainer that she chose to review the Science Package- Weather and Climate. She was so excited when the box arrived and saw everything that came with it! We received a 159 page, spiral bound book that contains the student plan, parent overview and activity pages. Also included was a hardback book called Weather  by Brian Cosgrove that contained many colorful images as well as a clipart CD and a huge poster to hang on a wall. Because this unit study had experiments sprinkled throughout, we also received a box of most of the supplies needed to complete the experiments.

Before my daughter started, I sat down with the Weather and Climate book to read how they suggest to use it. In the beginning of the book it contained a list of supplies that you would use throughout the book as well as a vocabulary list of words that would be covered during this unit study. There are 10 lessons in this book with a few of the lessons taking more than one day (which was noted at the beginning of the lesson). Each lesson had a "getting started" section which listed the supplies the student needs, ideas to think about and the reading pages assignment to read out of the Weather book.

After that was the activities section. Sometimes this involved answering questions, drawing pictures,writing stories, watching videos online and of course, many experiments!! Throughout this unit study she also kept a weather journal that is included in the curriculum, documenting temperature, cloud description, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, humidity & heat index (they also had options to fill in if it was cold outside).

Finally the lesson ended with a "wrapping up" section that reviewed what they had just learned as well as suggestions of other activities the student could do or how to apply to real life what they just studied (like predicting the next days weather based on their weather journal). Throughout the book are boxes for the student to check mark as they completed each section. This made it easy for me to scan through to see that she completed what was needed.

In the back of the book includes a parents overview. It is basically a summary of of each lesson and what the student covered. It also contains answers to any questions they had in each lesson.

This unit study was laid out clearly and easy to follow which made it great for my daughter to complete on her own. By far her favorite activities were the experiments. The experiments listed each step in order and also showed drawings of how to build or complete each step. Some of the things she did was make an anemometer, finding the dew point in the bathroom, made lightning, and made warm & cold fronts meet. She also learned how to read a weather map and what the different symbols mean. At the end of the unit study there was a test for her to take (included in the book) as well as a final project she had to complete. She put her on spin on this part and did a short report on tornados as well as a guide on how to prepare for a tornado to include with it.

Summing it up:

While the online & physical curriculum have many similarities, one point to note is the slight differences. With the online version, you can download and print out as many student pages as you would like to use for multiple children though you only have access to your online curriculum for 3 months. Personally if I am purchasing a curriculum I would prefer to have unlimited access. With the physical curriculum guide, it's obviously yours to keep but you would need to purchase additional student pages if you wanted to use this unit study for more than one child as copying is not permitted.

Overall, we were very impressed with both Moving Beyond the Page unit studies. They were chock full of information and presented it in a very engaging way that kept my daughters attention and had her wanting to do more. Their website contains many different unit studies and would make a great full curriculum or even a wonderful supplement to what you are already doing.

Language Arts Package- Independent Study is for ages 11-13 and is available for $16.99
Science Package- Weather and Climate is for ages 10-12 and is available for $50.28

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"J" is for July

When July rolls around, many different thoughts cross my mind:

-Over half this year has passed already

-Summer is now on the downhill slope towards fall (seriously, we will soon start seeing back-to-school supplies and fall decor in the stores. Summer things are already getting marked down!)

-We will soon be starting school (yes we start early but we are also done end of April/beginning of May just as the weather turns nice!)

-3 of my children have birthdays in July

-Only 2 of the above children are here physically to celebrate their birthdays

Ultimately, when July rolls around, I am even more reminded of the hole in our family. Noah. My sweet, deeply loved & missed son. We are celebrating his 4th birthday this year. It's hard to believe it's been that long since his birth & death. What makes his birthday even more bittersweet is Noah's little sister, our rainbow baby, was born on Noah's 1st birthday! So we always have 2 birthday cakes on July 13th but only one child to blow out the candles, a day of laughter mixed with tears. I have been having some tougher moments again lately as I relive everything from 4 years ago but such is the journey of having had a child die.

So once again July, I take you day by day.

If you would like to help us remember Noah's brief life, you can check out this post for some ideas.