Aug 31

How Goals Help Me Aim for Excellence

I love setting goals. There is something about listing out the things that I want to accomplish on paper that helps me gain perspective on my life. I have been working through some exercises on goal setting in the last several weeks in conjunction with an upcoming review on the 7-Minute Life Planner. This has reminded me how important writing down your goals is to striving toward excellence in life. I have found that if I just keep all those goals and ideas in my head, there is usually not much action taken on them. When I commit them to paper, it is sort of a contract with myself to attempt to meet some of these goals.

When writing the goals down, I have found keeping the acronym SMART in mind also helps me.

S – specific

M – measurable

A – attainable

R – realistic

T – timely

This past week I set the following goals and here is the update on how I progressed. It was rather a busy week for me and I learned some goal-setting lessons that I will share at the end of this post. The goals that were met are marked with the strike through.


  • I am going to shoot for being in bed by 10:00 pm with my light out by 10:30 pm. - This was definitely a work in progress. I don’t think I made it to bed but ONE night this week by 10:30.
  • Adding exercise back into my routine, even if it is only a 10 minute stretching routineThis happened about twice this week. I am going to keep it up one baby step at a time.
  • Reading at night before bed. - I didn’t get into bed early enough for this, however I did read in the tub once this week :)
  • Keeping a THM food journal to help me stay on trackThis happened thanks to the new goal planner I am using.


  • Continue tweaking Luke’s checklist and help keep him on track This is working but still taking a lot of encouragement from me. We are using a student logbook that I will share about in an upcoming review.
  • Working in some daily planning time to my routine This didn’t happen daily, but I was able to have two larger planning sessions that made me feel very accomplished!
  • Grade and file last week’s work Done and I am liking my new system this year. Hoping that I can keep it up for the long haul. My main goal is not to finish out the year with stacks and stacks of loose paper!
  • Keep Lydia’s preschool time each morning and provide activities for her to do during the boys read-aloud time.  I am really enjoying the special time I am having with Lydia each day. It really doesn’t take long and we are just reading good books right now and working through some school readiness books using Sonlight’s P4/P5 curriculum. We are using Get Ready for the Code as well. I gave her some worksheets and educational videos to watch this week when the boys were doing school and she seemed bored with playing alone.
  • Sit in with Drew during some of his Pre-Algebra lessons. - I helped him with some percent and fraction equations that he was struggling with, but I didn’t get to sit in on any of the lectures this week.


  • Lunch Date with David this week. –  This didn’t happen.
  • Night time date at home since I don’t have to work at the hospital this week. – This didn’t happen
  • Take the kids swimming. - We didn’t go to a pool together, however Lydia attended a swim party and the boys attended a party where they had an 18-foot water slide, so technically this goal was met:)
  • Go for a walk with the kids. This also didn’t happen. Life got in the way.
  • Try to take advantage of hidden moments to give each child a little bit of one on one attention. – I was able to bake brownies with Luke and take Lydia to a party, just she and I, but I will have to put Drew at the top of the list next week.

After looking over this list of goals from last week, I noticed that making time for David and myself ended up being the things that got put on the back burner. I am going to have to change that. I know that if I let my priorities get out of whack and live in the tyranny of the urgent, I will quickly lose steam. Here are my revised goals for this upcoming week.


  • Keep up with my Beth Moore Bible study, Children of the Day, working on it 5 days a week.
  • Exercise three times this week (even 10 minute stretching counts, baby steps here)
  • Shoot for getting to bed by 10:30 at least three nights this week.
  • Read for pleasure at least 30 minutes, three times this week.
  • Take one online class on Project Life/Photoshop Elements that I have been trying to get around to for months (shoot for Tuesday afternoon)


  • Keep up to date with my record keeping in my homeschool planner.
  • Grade and file all work.
  • Add Math to Lydia’s routine this week.
  • Begin PE with the boys. Two sessions this week because of Labor Day being a vacation day.
  • Evaluate Luke’s progress with Math Facts and create a plan to begin to master them. Determine when multiplication is being introduced in his current math program.
  • Set up Drew’s first photo editing class with Anna.
  • Attend the homeschool group kickoff picnic on Saturday.


  • Spend Labor Day with the family at a water park.
  • Birthday party for Drew and my nephew Friday night.
  • Tweak evening routine with the addition of karate back into the schedule this week.
  • Make a special dessert and plan an at home date for Thursday night after the kids are in bed.
  • Take a walk with the kids and the dog on Wednesday.

My first problem that I identified from last week was that I failed to keep the goals in front of me. I do much better if the goals are listed out where I can see them each day. I am planning to print these goals out from this post and keep them in my Bible this week where I will see them each day.

The second problem I identified was not timing the goals. I decided to give specific dates to as many goals as I could this week to see if that would assist me in completing them. I have so many things that I have thought were impossible to accomplish that I now think can be done if I tackle it one baby step at a time. I am going to continue to work through some more goal setting exercises and I will write a post on this in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for letting me share a peek into my life with you. I would love to hear from you what you are working on this week!

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Aug 26

Learning Math Facts with UberSmart – A TOS Review

UberSmart Math Facts Review

I remember the days of being a homeschooled student where the only aids we had to learn math facts were math flashcards. Learning math facts included days of sitting on the front porch swing having someone practice flashcards with me. Flashcards have come a long way since then. Enter UberSmart Math Facts ($24.95 for a family license with free upgrades and support) from UberSmart Software

With a 100% satisfaction guarantee for up to one year from the date of purchase you have nothing to lose when trying this product. There is even a 30-day free trial available along with some free printable math fact worksheets on the website!

About The Programmer

David Kocur, computer programmer, homeschool dad, and creator of UberSmart Math Facts wrote the program after his wife asked him to write something to help his kids learn their math facts. After scouring the internet and finding nothing to his liking, he wrote his own program. After seeing such positive results with his own kids, he decided to market his product to help others.

About the Software

UberSmart Math Facts is based on the concepts of flashcards and timed tests, but with many customizable options. This is geared for grades K-6, but any age that needs math facts reinforcement can utilize this program. This is for Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista only. The program is downloaded directly to your PC and can be registered for up to 8 students with a family license. The clean, streamlined interface is not busy or confusing. There are simple tabs across the top that you click on to enter that learning mode.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

The Learn Tab  - Under this tab, you can choose dot cards for math beginners (example shown above) These domino-like cards can be shown with numbers written on the card or just dots. You begin with 0′s and progress sequentially all the way to 9′s. You can choose the intermediate level from this tab and you get more options, including addition and subtraction up to the 9′s and multiplication and division up to the 12′s. In this mode, a flashcard appears that has a vertical equation without the answer. Click on the show tab and the answer appears.

The Practice Tab – Under this tab, you find options to practice beginner dot cards, keyboard entry and intermediate flashcards. The keyboard entry feature is cool as that is a skill that is assumed in most math programs, but necessary for beginners as it affects their speed and accuracy. Here is an example of the keyboard entry screen. A number is shown and you find it on the keyboard and type it in as quickly as you can. If you are practicing using the intermediate flashcards, an equation is shown and you enter the answer. You are immediately told whether your answer was correct or incorrect and if you do not answer quickly enough, the answer is shown and you are moved to the next card (I believe the timed feature can be turned off).

UberSmart Math Facts ReviewUberSmart Math Facts Review

The Test Tab - This is where you should begin if you are new to this program. I didn’t understand all the ins and outs of this program at the beginning and so we explored this tab later in the process.UberSmart Math Facts Assessment

UberSmart Math Facts Review

The Assessment test was very helpful in giving me feedback on the areas that my students needed work. You are given feedback on each operation with a summary of what your student is proficient in and where he needs more work.







The mastery tests are to be used when you feel that the student is doing well enough on each table to move to the next number.After mastering all math facts you can print a certificate of excellence for the student.Dot Cards (like adding domino faces)






The Compete Tab – I worked very little with this tab. I registered myself as a user and attempted to do the competition, but didn’t score high enough to compare with others. LOL! Maybe I need some practice myself.

The Report Tab – Here you can find all sorts of useful information on the progress your student is making.Math Facts Progress Math Facts Reports

 My Opinion of the Software and How We Used It In Our Homeschool

Things I liked -My rising 3rd grader is still working on mastering his math facts. We are really working hard to gain mastery of the addition and subtraction facts before we introduce multiplication in the upcoming months. We were excited to try this program out. I LOVE that this program is not based online, but rather downloaded so you have access for life. This will come in handy for my seventh grader when he needs a brush up now and then. My 4-year old is also starting to begin math this fall as part of her preschool program so she worked with the dot cards for a short time. She was only able to go to the three tables before it became a little frustrating for her. I am planning to just continue using it 2-3 times a week with her, but only using the 0-3 dot cards.

My third grader started out jumping right in and just working from the beginning of the practice and learn tabs. He started with addition at the 0 tables and worked his way to mastery all the way to the three tables. We are still working to move past that level. We will continue to assign this as part of our curriculum this fall for 4 days a week approximately 10 minutes a day. He was able to go through a practice level in five minutes or less. The timed feature of the program is helpful to make sure that your kids are mastering the facts and not just eventually figuring it out. I loved the reports where I could see the progress that he has made over the last several weeks using the program. We took the assessment in the program during the review and I loved the personalized report that it gave me so as a teacher, I could choose the most helpful way to approach the skills my son lacked. This would be an excellent place to start with your student. We also found the progress bar across the bottom of the screen to be helpful to let us know how much we had left before reaching the end of the current session.

Things that could use improvement - The kids would have liked a few game-like features in the program, but I have friends who would purchase this program over others out there because it is NOT like a video game, so depending on your kids, this may be the perfect program for your family since it is more like standard flashcards than a game. I think it would have been helpful if there was a tutorial at the beginning or a You Tube video to help you get started. I dislike reading PDF manuals for instructions.

My son does not particularly like doing any type of math facts review, so his opinion was rather neutral on this product. He did not ask to do them, but if I assigned the program giving him a timer and telling him he needed to work for 10 minutes per session, I didn’t get many complaints. He seems to do better when he realizes that there is an end to the drilling.

If you would like to hear what others think of this program, you can read some other Crew members reviews by clicking on the graphic below.

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Aug 23

Celebrating the First Week of Routine and Goals for Next Week

fireworksOur First week of back to routine is completed. We had interruptions and we made some wonderful memories. I was able to remind myself in the interruptions that homeschooling is a blessing because of flexibility. The main goals for my week were to help Luke follow a checklist, set aside quality time for Lydia’s preschool work and get up on a schedule. We accomplished all of this! Hallelujah. 


I really felt better working on a schedule. This upcoming week is full of lots of projects for me to complete but I am planning to spend some focused time on working on my routines and getting to bed earlier. Here are my goals for the upcoming week as they relate to homeschooling, mothering and my personal life:


  • I am going to shoot for being in bed by 10:00 pm with my light out by 10:30 pm.
  • Adding exercise back into my routine, even if it is only a 10 minute stretching routine
  • Reading at night before bed
  • Keeping a THM food journal to help me stay on track


  • Continue tweaking Luke’s checklist and help keep him on track
  • Working in some daily planning time to my routine
  • Grade and file last week’s work
  • Keep Lydia’s preschool time each morning and provide activities for her to do during the boys read-aloud time.
  • Sit in with Drew during some of his Pre-Algebra lessons


  • Lunch Date with David this week
  • Night time date at home since I don’t have to work at the hospital this week
  • Take the kids swimming
  • Go for a walk with the kids
  • Try to take advantage of hidden moments to give each child a little bit of one on one attention

Ideas for the one on one time include – Making brownies with Luke, finger painting with Lydia and taking Drew to the bookstore or library and reading with him in a quiet place.

What are your goals and plans for this week?

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Aug 21

Happy Kids Songs Download- A TOS Crew Review

Happy Kids Songs Review

With three kids ranging in age from 4-12 in our home, we have been listening to kid’s songs for what seems like forever. When we got the opportunity to review three downloadable albums intended to help teach character and social and emotion growth, Friends & Sharing (Vol. 1), Manners & Character (Vol. 6) and Happiness & Attitude (Vol. 7), from Happy Kids Songs we were glad to change up the music! We found the varied styles of music and the positive character messages in the songs refreshing. We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills to use in our homeschool. 

About the Founder of Happy Kids Songs

Dr. Mac is a child psychologist, song-writer and writer and director of music for the popular PBS hit, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. He has over a hundred songs published to his credit. He has co-authored a book and is Clinical Director of the Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara. He has a team of adult and child singers who formed the chorus on his albums.

About the Products

Happy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs Review

Happy Kids Songs features eight award-winning albums with five songs each. You can download them by the album for $4.95 each or you can download the single songs for $0.99. The songs can be downloaded to your computer and then transferred to an MP3 player or you can burn them to a CD. We chose to play our downloads straight from our computer during chore time and during some downtime during our school day. We completed some of the activities and worksheets as part of music time in our homeschool.

These albums are geared for ages 3-8, but children ages 0-9 are likely to enjoy them.

Friends & Sharing (Vol.1) have the following songs on the album:

Sailing on the Seven Cs
This song shares seven Ingredients of friendship –  caring, consideration, commitment, communication, concern, curiosity, and cooperation.

Everybody Wants to Find a Friend
This song reminds kids that everyone wants a friend and we need to put ourselves out there and just say “hello”

Sharing Friends
This song breaches the common subject of feeling left out in play and how to share your friends and negotiate including others so everyone can play together.

Happy as Happy Can Be
Discovering the joy of friendship


Spending time together and saying goodbye

Manners & Character (Vol. 6)

Making the world a better place by practicing honesty

The Magic Word
Please, Can I and May I

Appreciating differences in those around us.

The Golden Rule
Doing for others what you would like them to do for you

Six Little Kids
Valuing others perspectives

Happiness & Attitude (Vol. 7)

Shake It Out and Dance
Teaching Kids to try and encouraging them to turn “I can’t” to “I can”

Who Knows What’s a Kudo?
Definition of Kudo and explanations of giving compliments

I Don’t Understand
Deals with the questions of children

Be Good to Yourself
Doing your best, positive self-talk

Better Together

Handling aloneness and enjoying togetherness

Happy Kids Songs Review


Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills is 122-page paperback workbook currently available for $12.56. The activities and worksheets in the book are available for download on the Happy Kids Songs website for free, but the benefit of the workbook is having all the lyrics and worksheets in order and in one place. The copyright allows homeschool teachers and classroom teachers permission to print copies for their own family or classroom. The activities are geared for ages 3-8 but the activities we worked with are varied. Some are as simple as matching items that go together.





Here is a sample of one page my 4-year-old enjoyed. It went with the song, Happy as Happy Can Be.

.Happy as Happy Can Be

The directions were to match the things that go together.Other activities in the book are more complex.

This particular page below went along with the song, Quirks and was a bit frustrating for my eight year old. The idea was that no two things are just alike. I can’t imagine a three-year old being able to have the coordination to complete this page. There are also several pages that ask you to finish the sentence such as I feel mad when…., one thing that makes me happy is….. I can see these activities completed orally with the suggested age range, but I don’t think kids in the 3-8 range would be comfortable doing this independently.

Happy Songs Quirks

I felt the age range for the workbook should be adjusted or the activities could be ordered by age appropriateness to help the teacher chose well. The first half of the book includes the coloring and activity pages while starting on page 86, the suggested activities begin. There are things like painting friendship cards for sick friends and making friend puppets out of craft sticks to use in role-playing friendship scenarios. These suggestions go with the songs, Sailing on the Seven Seas and Everybody Wants a Friend. Some of the activities are only appropriate in group settings and would be better used in a co-op or classroom setting. An example of this type of group activity in the book is a cooperative learning activity where the entire group of students are asked to get in groups of 3-5 and explore the topic of friendship and create a report on the topic of friendship to present before the entire group.

Happy Kids Songs activity book My Opinion of the Products

I liked the varying rhythms, tempos and musical styles of the music. It was more adult-friendly than some children’s music we have listened to in the past. The kids found themselves singing along as they listened. The positive messages in the song were thought-provoking and generated some good discussions between me and the kids. I think they would make great teaching tools when covering unit studies on topics such as manners, social skills,and responsibility, I can also see classroom teachers appreciating these because of the neutral nature of the content. There is no religious bias inserted into the songs. Personally, I prefer a Christian basis to our music, but we appreciate most styles of music and these songs will have a place in our school day in the future. There are some issues such as honesty that are approached in a purely psychological approach in the music. I would probably insert my religious take on these issues when using the materials to teach those issues. Honesty is encouraged in the lyrics because,

“you can get more freedom and you can get respect, and a little more trust, is just what you’d expect, with a little bit of ….h-o-n-e-s-t-y….You best believe it.

I would insert the fact that honesty is also blessed by God and we strive to become honest in obedience to the commands of God in His Word. I felt these things could easily be adapted by teachers in a Christian school or Christian homeschool setting. Overall, we felt these were quality recordings and could be useful for some families. I don’t think I would purchase the rest of the albums, but we have used and enjoyed the three volumes we received. I also liked the resources in the workbook and will pull from them from time to time when character and social issues come up in my parenting.

If you would like to hear what other bloggers had to say about these products click on the graphic below.

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Aug 18

Teaching Children’s Bible Stories with Wizzy Gizmo – A TOS Review

Wizzy Gizmo ReviewAre you looking for an entertaining audio drama that will help you teach children’s Bible stories? We recently received Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything? available from Wizzy Gizmo.  This adaptation of Genesis chapter 1 is part of the Old Testament Bible Series created to help parents practice the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5-6 to teach the Scriptures to our children. 24/7.

About the Company

Wizzy Gizmo was created by Chris Del Aguila, a father of 3, minister of music, musician, author and sound engineer. He works with Justin Cummins, a father of 5, church planter, pastor, teacher, author and illustrator to create Bible teaching tools for kids. They have a passion to equip families to teach their children the Word of God. Rich theological truths are woven into Biblical and wholesome resources that the whole family can enjoy.

About the Product

  Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything?


Geared for Ages 4-12

An adaptation of Genesis chapter 1

Wizzy Gizmo Review

This one hour audio drama on CD has 22 tracks. Tract one is the theme song which can be listened to at the Wizzy Gizmo site. Tracts 15 has a Giz Quiz for you to test your knowledge after the drama. The remaining seven tracts contain bonus music soundtracks.

.The character Wizzy Gizmo is a mad scientist kind of fellow described as having blue hair, big glasses and knobby knees. The drama takes you away in your imagination on a journey with this scientist as he places the Bible in his Gizmovision machine and you are transported into the first chapter of Genesis at the beginning of creation. There are four kids, a robotic duck and a pup named Pepe who come along for the journey. You will watch as light is created, the earth fills with plants and animals and God creates man. The musical score is filled with catchy tunes and you will find yourself singing along with nonsense songs like Mango, Oh how I love you! and Strawberry Fields. The timeless truths of God’s Word are presented in a memorable way ensuring that your child will catch some important truths of Scripture while enjoying an exciting adventure. You will learn scientific facts such as the difference between plants (seed-bearing vs. fruit bearing), the purpose of the sun, moon and stars and more. Vocabulary words are explained throughout the drama and you will learn the definitions of such words as auspicious and firmament. Who could ask more from this excellent Bible teaching tool.

My Opinions of the Audio Drama

This drama has been one our favorite review items of the season! We listened to the CD while doing chores, running errands around town in the car and on a family road trip. My kids have played it over and over and we can all sing the Mango song in our sleep. The catchy tunes and dramatic background music help to remind the kids of the wonderful way in which God created our world. We loved the talking Spanish pup, Pepe, and his hilarious accent.  I was very pleased with the scriptural accuracy and the quality of the recording. Even the difficult concept of the Trinity was explained in a way that children can begin to understand this foundational truth.The characters were memorable and Genesis chapter 1 has never been presented in a more clever, creative way. This CD will be played over and over in our home in the next several months and we will look forward to purchasing Episode 2 when it is released.

Connect with Wizzy Gizmo on social media at the following links:






If you are ready to purchase your own copy for your next road trip, to play at bedtime, or to use during Bible time in your homeschool,  make sure you take advantage of the up to 10% discount just by sharing about Wizzy Gizmo on social media. If you would like to explore all that the Wizzy Gizmo product line has to offer, click on the graphic below to see what some of my crewmates thought about their other offerings.

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Aug 17

Ready for Routine

Morning routine

We have enjoyed the summer to the fullest this year. We played, we vacationed, we visited family and we spent some time at the pool. Now that fall activities are starting in our homeschool group, church and local recreation department, it is time to settle down into a new school routine. I am so ready for routine! Easing into a homeschool schedule helps us be more successful. We begin with a wakeup routine, breakfast, chores and then gradually add in our school subjects.We are planning to ease into our routine over the next two weeks. I know from experience that my crew does not do well with jumping in feet first.These are the things we are working on this week:

  •  getting up on time
  •  getting our new chore routine in place
  •  getting our school spaces set up for use
  •  organizing school supplies
  •  getting used to our new sports/AWANA schedule in the evenings
  •  starting Science and Literature assignments for co-op classes
  •  finishing up some review materials
  • completing one math lesson a day

Here are the mom tasks that I am planning on tackling this week:

  •  getting up an hour before the kids to start my day with devotions, a little bit of planning time and maybe a stretching routine. I am thinking about  trying this stretching routine by Denise Austin.
  •  I will be aiming for an hour a day to continue my school planning.
  •  beginning a Beth Moore study at church with my mom and sister
  •  studying and planning for my science class at homeschool co-op.
  • getting some new blog content together (Look for upcoming reviews about music, math facts software and audio dramas for kids. I also hope to share some about the way we use Sonlight curriculum in our homeschool soon)

I have found that sharing my goals helps me be more accountable. What goals have you set for this week? I would love to have some interaction on this post. Leave your comments below and I will respond as soon as possible.



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Aug 08

Egg in A Hole – THM Breakfast Recipe (S)

As long as I can remember, my kids and I have loved a recipe we call, “Egg in a Hole.” We take buttered whole wheat bread, cut a hole in the middle of the bread using a cookie cutter or small cup turned upside down and fry an egg inside the whole. Since starting THM almost a year ago, I have learned to adapt some of my old favorites and make them THM friendly. I adapted this breakfast recipe from this Bread in a Mug recipe. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

egg in the basket


photo courtesy of aspherical element via Flickr 


Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp golden flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp almond flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • pinch sea salt
  • Butter
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix the first seven ingredients in a mug until combined.
  2. Pour over a greased waffle iron. I spread it thin so it will make two square waffles.
  3. When ready, cut a hole in the center of the waffle bread with a cup or small cookie cutter.
  4. Butter the bread and place in a hot skillet.
  5. Fry an egg in the center of each piece of waffle bread.

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Jul 30

Analytical Grammar – Mastery in Minutes (A TOS Crew Review)

Image (10)

As I prepare my son for the start of 7th grade in a few weeks, I set some educational goals for the upcoming school year. One of my goals was to focus on grammar mastery. I have been on a quest to find a grammar curriculum that would not consume large amounts of our time. My oldest son is an avid reader and has a very good grasp of vocabulary and the English language. My question was, how do I keep all the important grammar rules fresh in his mind for testing purposes without bogging down in loads of busy work? Enter the Analytical Grammar company. We were recently sent one copy of Analytical Grammar, which retails for $94.95 (This includes one teacher book and one student book) for review purposes. This course is intended for 6th grade and up. Analytical Grammar Review

About the Company

Analytical Grammar is run by a mother daughter team. Mom Robin Finley is a retired teacher who developed this program in her classroom after being told by her department chairs that they would not purchase extra curriculum for her 5 language arts classes. She could not transport her one set of grammar texts to multiple classrooms, so she took initiative and developed her own curricula! She has a heart to help students and believes that if grammar is taught logically and sequentially, there is not a need for “daily” grammar work throughout the years. She used her curriculum over 12 years as she tweaked it and made it what it is today. After using it in her own public school classroom, she was approached by a local private school asking her if her materials were for sale. That was the start of Analytical Grammar. As her daughter Erin Finley Karl came through her mother’s classroom, she was educated using the Analytical Grammar materials and then went on to teach middle school using her mother’s materials for a few years. Now you can find Mrs.Karl helping her mom run their company and working part-time as a public affairs officer for her local military base. She is also a Major in the Air Force Reserves. If you would like to connect with the authors on social media you can find them on Facebook and Twitter at the addresses below.

Facebook –

Twitter –

Analytical Grammar Review

About the Course

Season One – The Analytical Grammar course is intended as a three-year course teaching grammar mastery and language mechanics. The first year or “season” as the book describes it, contains ten weeks of intensive grammar instruction covering 10 units of the curriculum at a pacing schedule of one unit a week. After this, no new grammar is taught for the remainder of the year. It is recommended that every two weeks, you spend one day completing a review exercise from the Reinforcement and Review book (not included). The student conducts these review exercises independently and can grade the exercises on his own, correcting his mistakes. Our focus for this review was on the first season.

Season Two – This year is begun with one week of review from the Reinforcement and Review book (sold separately) and then you teach units 11-17 at a pacing of one unit a week. Afterwards one day a month is set aside for review. This completes your study of grammar.

Season Three – The last season is focused on usage and punctuation as you teach the remaining units 18-34.

There is an alternate schedule included on the website if you would like to complete the course more quickly.

Drew Analytical Grammar

The Books

The Teacher Book –

The paperback teacher book is 392 pages of teacher notes and student book answers. It begins by explaining the program and giving pacing suggestions. Then there are notes on grading the exercises and tests. I found reading this beginning material very important for implementing the course in our homeschool. The next section gives teacher’s notes for each unit in season one with suggestions for possible shortcuts to use if needed. Next you find answer keys for the student pages with occasional teacher’s notes sprinkled in. Season Two and Three continue in the same manner.

The Student Book -

Skills Support Analytical Grammar This 396 page paperback text contains everything you need for three years of grammar studies with the exception of the Reinforcement and Review book should you choose to use it. The units are broken down into a notes section that introduces each unit, followed by three exercises, a skill support assignment and a test. The exercises reinforce the topic discussed in the unit and have the student actively marking and diagramming sentences. The skill support exercises are intended to teach paraphrasing paragraphs, for the purpose of helping the students with essay tests, book reports and other writing skills needed in the upper grades.The exercises and tests can be removed from the book easily by tearing on the perforated lines. Leaving the notes sections in the bound book provides a great easy reference manual that the student may use in the future for writing projects in other subjects.You could also choose to remove the notes section and place in a binder with page protectors.I thought this was a very handy idea.

Here are the topics covered in Season One

  • Nouns, articles and adjectives
  • Pronouns
  • Prepositional Phrases
  • Subjects and Verbs
  • Adverbs
  • Patterns
  • Helping Verbs
  • Conjunctions

Season Two and Three cover these topics and more

  • Participle Phrases
  • Gerund Phrases
  • Adjective Clauses
  • Comma Rules
  • Punctuating Quotations
  • Semicolons and Colons
  • and more……..

If you are interested in seeing more of the materials, you can view some sample pages on the website.

Our Opinion of the Materials

My son commented that he enjoyed the fact that Analytical Grammar had taught him to identify how words are used in a sentence. He benefited greatly from the section on prepositional phrases. After having spent the last two years in an intensive writing class in our local co-op, he has had lots of practice with adjectives and adverbs, but he had forgotten the details of identifying some of the parts of speech. I loved the idea of teaching grammar mastery for 10 weeks then using the rest of the year for review. I think this is exactly what I was looking for in a grammar curriculum for my son. I found the teacher book extremely helpful when grading exercises with my son. We were able to quickly identify any errors in the text and correct them as we went. When grading tests, I benefited from the points value given for each sentence. We used the first 5 units over the summer and plan to continue through unit 10 for the first 5-6 weeks of our official school year. I plan to purchase the Reinforcement and Review book to use the rest of the year completing one exercise every couple of weeks. When we come across grammatical concepts in other subjects, we will pull out the books and review as needed. We will do Season One for 7th grade, then continue next year with Season Two. If you would like to hear what other families had to say about Analytical Grammar and some of the other products they offer, check out some of my crewmates reviews by clicking on the graphic below.

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Jul 30

Wordless Wednesday

We will be making a trek to Virginia midweek to visit grandparents. Here are some pics from our last week of summer school.


Lydia lining up her bears in the window
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Jul 27

Planning Resources – Things to Enhance Your Homeschool Planning

#homeschool planning resoursesToday I am sharing a roundup of some of the things I am using in my homeschool planning this year. I thought that I would also share some of the things that have worked for me in the past. I am even going to share some cool things I have found on Pinterest or other blogs that I have yet to try. I LOVE me some office supplies and planners, so hang on to your hat as I try to inspire you to get in preparation mode for the upcoming school year.

Homeschool Planners

my planner

Photo credit: Sara Grajeda via Flickr


I have used the Well Planned Day planners in the past and found them to be a great paper planner for homeschooling. I loved the inclusion of tear out report cards in the back and the visually appealing graphics. There is room to plan for up to four children, with lots of extras like budgeting pages and Bible reading plans.This year’s version is available for $26.95

The Schoolhouse Planner, downloadable version is something I have used in the past because I have free access to it as a result of my affiliation with the TOS Review Crew. I have found some really awesome planning forms and tools within its pages. It really has everything you could ever imagine in its pages and you can customize many of the PDF pages. This digital version sells for $39.00


This year, I was sent the Hey Mama Schoolhouse Planner for only the cost of shipping. I have started to use it and will update you as I get deeper in my planning on my opinion of this new product. So far, I think I am going to really like it. It is on sale right now for $16. I like the simplicity of the layout. I am trying out a new planning method this year of putting everything on paper as a pacing guide so I know where I stand to finish on schedule. I will use the monthly calendar pages at the beginning of this planner for this purpose. Then the two-page spreads will contain what is actually done by the children each week. I found this planning method at Only Passionate Curiosity. She even has a free downloadable planning pack.


If you are the creative type, this is a very cute way to make your own customized planner on the cheap using a composition notebook.

Here is another one that requires more steps to put together, but it looks very customizable.

I also found this free printable planner on Pinterest. I like the look of the graphics and the simplicity of the record keeping,

365::62 - moments so quietly gone

 Personal Planners


I used to always have my handy-dandy Dayspring pocket calendar in my purse for reference and to keep track of my work schedule, church events, etc. I have not had one of these for several years and was delighted to see the new and improved version that is now available for $7.99.

The Cozi calendar app was something I really enjoyed using before getting a smart phone. I loved that I could use it from the laptop, but found keeping an online calendar that I could not access when out and about was difficult to maintain. I was using a pocket calendar when out, a wall calendar for the family and the digital calendar on the laptop so I could keep the family journal there. This worked for a while, but soon became tedious.

Photo credit: Sarah Reid via Flickr


When I got an iPhone about a year ago, I had just begun using Google Calendar and decided to merge everything to this platform so I could access it from my phone and the laptop. I love the ease of use and the fact that I can send reminders to my phone for events and my husband can view the calendar from his computer at work. I have yet to get anyone in the family to use Google calendar with me so I am planning to keep my wall calendar and go back to a small paper planner that I can take with me on the go. I feel like I still need the visual of a larger layout and the ability to see ahead the events that are upcoming rather than a little dot on my phone calendar.


I recently won a blog giveaway for a Classic Life Planner from Erin, I watched You Tube videos of the planner in action and I can’t wait for my new customized planner to arrive. I will definitely let you know what I think of this as I see how it works for me.

Homeschool Reference and Encouragement Books


What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. – There is an entire line of books for K5-5th grade. A great reference to help you aim for the important things to cover in each grade

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell – My all-time favorite homeschool reference book. It literally covers everything you could ever need to know about homeschooling.


Flourish Book Review


Growing Up Duggar by Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Jana Duggar – This book is full of some great tips for child training, relationships and the many things that happen in family life. I have been inspired with some great ideas from this book.

Flourish by Mary Jo Tate – This is my latest favorite book that has helped me really envision more for my life, homeschool and blog.

401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home by Bonnie Runyan McCullough and Susan Walker Monson – this has been an excellent resource in helping me make a plan to teach my kids all the skills they need to know about home and property management before they leave home.

Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winkler – great ideas for simplifying your record keeping and managing email.







These are books on my homeschool/mothering reading list

Planning resoures

Life Skills for Kids by Christine M. Field

7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler

Quiet Times in Loud Households by Kimberly Eddy

Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine M. Field

Created for Work by Bob Schultz

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell



I hope some of these resources spawn your creativity and help you plan the best homeschool year ever! Blessings on your homeschool!









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