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Respect ~ Five Minute Friday

I am back with another Five Minute Friday. Five Minute Friday is when we get a word prompt and spend just five minutes writing. No planning, no editing, just writing.

This week the word is Respect. What do I have to say about respect in just five minutes? Here we go…

Respect, I have grown up learning to respect my elders. But what does that mean? defines respect as : esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability or to show regard or consideration for.

Respect to me is a two-way street. If anyone wants respect, they must give it. But who is to start? Do you have to wait for someone to give respect to you before you give respect to them? What if they are waiting for the same thing from you?

Did Jesus wait for people to show respect to him? Or, did he give respect to those who came to him before they gave any to him? From my understanding, he freely gave respect to many. He didn’t expect it in return.

So, respect should be given. It should not be expected in return. We should respect all those around us, whether we agree with them or not. I think during these trying times, we should look back into the bible and see how things, how respect was given. We need to take notes and apply them to our daily lives.

If you want to read more about what others thought of the word respect for Five Minute Friday, check it out right here.


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Our 2020 Curriculum Choices

We are getting fully into our new homeschool year. Today I want to share with you about our curriculum choices for the 2020 homeschool year. This year I will be teaching Kindergarten, 3rd, and 6th grades. After many years of trying many different things, we have finally settled into a plan that works for us.

Gather Round Homeschool

As our main spine curriculum, we are using Gather Round Homeschool. This is a unit study approach to homeschooling that allows everyone to learn together at one time. In Year One of this curriculum, everything is included besides math. I love how this changes from science to history and back again if you follow the program in the order it is presented. You can skip around between the studies if you would like, but since Baby Girl is Kindergarten this year, we have been following the Year One as suggested.


As much as I love Gather Round Homeschool, I wanted to add something more in for our history and Bible. I love using the bible as our history spine, and BibloPlan does just that for us. We are using Year One: Ancients this year. I fell in love with the unit study style from Gather Round Homeschool, so when we got the BibloPlan curriculum, I was thrilled to see that it was set up in a similar way. Knowing that we can all still learn at the same level, but be at different levels is awesome!

Learning Language Arts Through Literature

Again, here I am saying that Gather Round covers it all, but I am adding more. I am doing this because my kids are good at language arts. The language arts in Gather Round is not enough for my kids. I had to add something more. I have used Learning Language Arts Through Literature before and I was happy to go back to them. This curriculum is just what I want for my kids. We are taking actual literature and using that to learn the language arts skills that the kids need to learn.

Simply Kindergarten

Baby Girl is in kindergarten now. I don’t want to believe this, but it is true. I have played around with different curricula. However, the one that I thought was the best for Baby Girl was Simply Kindergarten from Master Books. This is an all in one curriculum for kindergarten, minus the math. While I love the concept of Gather Round, I knew that Baby Girl would need some extra one on one time with us. We do Gather Round together, but I take the extra time to focus on the basics that she needs to learn. I love this curriculum and the fun that we have had and will have doing this together.


For math this year we are using two different curricula. Ray Ray is in love with Teaching Textbooks. I love that this is all online. He loves that they teach him and it is like an old retro video game. This is the kid that loves retro video games.  I love that I was able to find something that works for him.

Little Miss and Baby Girl are using Math Lessons for a Living Education from Master Books. I have fallen in love with this style of learning math. I am a math nerd myself, helping my childhood friend with her math when I was younger than her. To find a curriculum that I love for my kids when I love math like I do is great! Ray Ray has used this, but as he gets older, he just didn’t like mom teaching him. I hope the girls are different. Either way, I know that my kids are learning how they want in our homeschool!


We need to add in those extras when it comes to homeschooling. While I haven’t done as much as I wanted in the past, this year we are bringing some of those extras back. For Art, we are using the middle school grades of ARTistic Pursuits classic courses. We have used a few of these products before and I love how easy it is for me to teach art, especially since I don’t like art myself!

Music this year we will be using the 15-Minute Music Lessons and Intro to Musicals for Elementary students. I love these courses from Music in our Homeschool and how easy they are to teach. All the teaching is planned out for you. You open and go. There are also videos to help supplement learning. The kids love this type of music and I love letting them learn the way they like.

In physical education, we plan to use Family Time Fitness along with just getting outside. The kids love to play outside, so I love using this as “gym” time. Getting them moving is all that is important to me.


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Interview with an Author ~ Erin Davis 7 Feasts Bible Study

I am in love with my new bible study! I am digging into the Old Testament and specifically the 7 Feasts from Leviticus 23. There will be a  full review of this in a few short weeks, but I wanted to share with you an interview with the author!

About Erin Davis

A popular speaker, author, and blogger, Erin Davis has addressed women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God’s Truth with others. She is the author of many books, including Connected, Beyond Bath Time, and books in the My Name Is Erin series. She also contributes regularly to the True Woman blog. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing down chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

The Interview


Why is it important to remember the Bible is a book about Jesus and not a book about us? How does that change how we study the Bible? 


As women, we are hardwired to want to be pleasing. It is one of the ways we bear the image of God. We want to be good daughters, good wives, good mothers, good friends, good employees, and good Christ-followers. Often we open our Bibles with that goal, however subconsciously, in mind. We’re looking for ways to make adjustments in order to be better women. 

God is gracious to transform us through His Word. He will reshape you as you read, but the Bible is not primarily a self-help guide. Here is a truth I must remind myself of often:

The Bible is not a book about you. The Bible is a book about Jesus. 

When we open our Bibles looking for ways to improve ourselves, we will feel frustrated with ourselves and how slow the sanctification process can be. But when we open our Bibles looking for God, we are never disappointed. He is on every page! And a clearer, bigger, more awe-inspiring view of Him, can’t help but change us. We are better able to bear the image of God when we better understand the character of God.


Erin, why do you think so many people skip over books like Leviticus when it comes to Bible study?


Well, let’s be honest, the book of Leviticus can feel a little dry. That is especially true if we see it as a book about a bunch of rules for the Israelites. But our desire to understand the book of Leviticus (and to understand every other book in our Bibles) will grow when we recognize that all of Scripture points to the Gospel. The Gospel is the key that unlocks our Bibles, even the hard to understand books and chapters. 

I interviewed a Jewish rabbi during my research for 7 Feasts. I told him that in general, Christians don’t read the book of Leviticus. He said something like, “That’s odd because the sacrificial system is so central to what you believe and that comes straight from the book of Leviticus.” Bingo! In many ways, Leviticus is the blueprint for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. When we learn to connect the dots between the Old Testament, the New Testament, and our lives as Spirit-filled believers, suddenly streams of living water gush forth from the text and Leviticus isn’t dry anymore! 


As we learn about the Seven Feasts, what are the Seven Feasts of Israel?


I’m so glad you asked! The seven feasts are outlined in Leviticus 23. In the broad sense, this was the calendar for the Israelites as they wandered toward the Promised Land. The feasts include:

  1. The Passover
  2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread
  3. The Feast of Firstfruits
  4. The Feast of Weeks
  5. The Feast of Trumpets
  6. The Day of Atonement
  7. The Feast of Booths


What do the feasts teach us about God?


I’ve spent years studying the seven feasts, and I am still discovering more about God through them. I can’t unpack all of that here, but here are three things the seven feasts have taught me (or reminded me) about God:

  1. He is aware of our chronic spiritual amnesia and has mercifully established rhythms to help us remember His character. It was such tender mercy for the Lord to give His people an annual calendar that included seven points of remembrance. This helped them focus on the reality of His goodness even as they wandered in the desert. He does the same thing for us. He has given us so many reminders of who He is. 
  2. He calls us into real rest. More than half of the seven feasts include a command to Sabbath. Over and over in Leviticus 23, the Lord is extending this invitation, “Rest in this. Rest in this. Rest. In. This.” The “this” is His sovereignty, His tender care, His mercy, His grace. The seven feasts reveal just how much God cares about the true, soul rest of His people. We really can rest in Him. 
  3. God’s redemptive plan is revealed through the seven feasts. This reality really excites me! Jesus died on Passover. He rested on the Sabbath. He rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost. The seven feasts point forward, with remarkable consistency, to Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins. God was using the feasts to guide His people into a relationship with Him while He was pointing forward to the moment when He would make a way for us to all be in relationship with Him through Jesus’ sacrifice. It’s just so good! 


Wow…that is really eye-opening to think about! This leads me to my next question, what do we learn about the importance of Sabbath as we study the feasts?


The concept of Sabbath is essential to the seven feasts. Before God began outlining the feasts to Moses, He described, in detail, the Sabbath. If we boil Sabbath down to it’s essence, Sabbath is a divine invitation to change the pattern. 

If we consider the context for Leviticus 23, we see that Sabbath was a relatively new concept for God’s people. They had moved from being slaves, bound to work for their masters all day, every day, to being free. When God handed down the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, Sabbath became a new rhythm for the free people of God and He reminded them of that when He outlined the seven feasts.  

The command to Sabbath is repeated in four of the seven feasts and both the feasts and the Sabbath are examples of ways God invites His people to change the pattern—to look up from our work and rest in His work; to stop gazing at ourselves and to gaze at Him instead; to unclench our fists and open our hands for the gifts He has for His children.


Finally, how does understanding creation tie into understanding the Seven Feasts?


The Bible opens with rhythms. God spoke, creation responded. The sunset. The sun rose. Repeat. Whether we are attuned to them or not, our own lives all have rhythms. Years are marked by the passage of seasons. Days lengthen and then shorten, then lengthen again. Months are marked by the cycle of the moon. 

Creation points specifically toward the seven feasts. Astronomers recognize four primary moon phases. If we divide the number of days in the average month by the four phases of the moon, what’s the nearest whole number? Seven! A seven-day week is built into the framework of existence. It’s always been a part of God’s plan. The drumbeat established at creation continues through the Jewish calendar outlined in Leviticus 23. The seven feasts mirror the seven days of creation. Again, God speaks and creation responds.

One of the greatest gifts the seven feasts can give us is attention to the rhythms of our lives. God was writing in the planners of His people to help them remember who He is. He was establishing rhythms of work, rest, and worship to keep them tethered to Him, even as they wandered. 

As New Testament Christians, we are not bound to a strict observance of the seven feasts, but if we let them, the feasts will reshape our rhythms to shift our focus toward Him. The feasts can help us pay attention to, and participate in the other rhythms God has established for His people.  

I want to thank Erin for this interview! If you want to know more about 7 Feasts and what I am learning through this bible study, check back in the beginning of August to read my full review!


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Children’s Atlas of the U.S.A. ~ A Master Books Review

We love to have books that are fun to read and we learn from them. We got the chance to review the Children’s Atlas of the U.S.A. from Master Books and we were thrilled!

What Is It

There are 112 pages to this book. While we got the digital copy, we love to hold things, so I printed this book out (Thank you HP Instant Ink!).  I just wish I had used a thicker paper when I printed, live and learn. After a short introduction and a table of contents, we have a two-page spread on every state in the U.S.A. At the end of the book, we have the District of Columbia also listed, along with a glossary and index.

Each two-page spread will name the state, show it on the map, and give us a map of just the state with the major cities. There is a sidebar that lists the state’s preamble, statehood history, population ranking, capital, state flower and bird, nickname, and highest point. We also have the state flag, seal, and an interesting fact.

The first page will share with us some interesting state history facts. The second page shares with us Wonders in God’s World for the state. Both of these pages are full of beautiful color pictures. If this is anything like the Children’s Atlas of the World, which we own in the physical form, I know that those pictures are so much more beautiful on the printed pages versus my printing. We honestly still loved the pictures.

How We Used It

With the current course of study that we are in, we are not focusing on the U.S.A. but that did not stop us from adding this into our studies. We added this book into our daily moring time, only we only used it once a week. We grab the book on Wednesday of every week, read a two-page spread of one state, and discuss. It is that simple. Yes, we could add more. What? We could do some copy work, we could add a more detailed study of the state. We could even do more than one state a week. However, right now, we are using this as an introduction to the U.S.A.

In the future, we do plan to use this more. We will go through all the states one time as an introduction. We will start over again in about a year. The next time we go through this book, we will add a little more extra work. And that cycle will continue until the kids know the U.S.A. and some facts about each state…and mom and dad also!

What Did We Think

We loved this book! The information in the book is wonderful! We have learned so much, even though we are only a few states in. We love the options that come with this book. You can really use this however you want. I have found my husband flipping through the pages when he thinks no one is looking. The kids don’t think they are really adding another subject to their day, but they are learning each time we open the book.

This book will be used for many years in our homeschool. From learning state by state, or by adding this in as we learn about the history of the U.S.A. There are endless possibilities, just let your mind, or your children’s mind take the lead for how to use this!


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July Books in Our Homeschool

Our July has been a real storm of a month. With the heat that is unbearable, and a tornado that touched down 11 miles or less away from us! We have tried to get into our normal homeschool routine, but not quite yet. What hasn’t changed…we have a stack of books to read this month!

*Affiliate Links have been used within this post. You can find my full disclosure right here.

With our different types of curriculum that we are using, we have a great list of books to read. Even if we don’t do all our school, we will be reading all the books!

Gather Round Homeschool Books

One of our main curricula is Gather Round Homeschool. This curriculum is a unit study based curriculum as I have shared with you before. This month is Asia, so we have some great book recommendations within the teacher’s guide to find some good books. There is a book list for each unit that is broken down by age/learning level. From this study, we will be reading The Story About Ping, The Year of the Panda, The Big Wave, and Amy Carmichael. The Big Wave is a family read-aloud that we will follow up with a fun study from Lit Wits.

BibloPlan Year One: Ancients Books

As part of our Bible and History curriculum, we are using BibloPlan Year One: Ancients. There are some great Literature Readings for each grade level listed in the teacher’s guide. We are adding in some of The Answers Book for Kids during our lessons, and just about anytime we have questions. We are also reading The Ark, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud together. While we have already read them, Little Miss will be reading The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls on her own. I love how fun and simple these are to read.

Morning Time Books

This year we are adding in some Morning Time lessons to our days. I have loved this idea and played around with it on and off. Now I am ready to jump in. I love the books they have suggested for the Summer Adventure 2020. We will be reading Math Curse, His Shoes Were Far Too Tight, Are You a Dragonfly?, Tyger! Tyger! and The Very Lonely Firefly to name a few. Oh, I can’t forget to mention Catwings! This is a book that I loved as a child and I was thrilled to see it on a list for me to read to my kids!

All Through the Ages

On top of these fun lists, I love to check out book ideas in All Through the Ages, History Through Literature Guide from Nothing New Press. This book is full of book ideas for everything! They are broken up chronologically and geographically. This is great because I am doing both, history from the beginning and geographically by unit study.


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Using Essential Oils in our Homeschool

Essential oils have played a large part in our daily lives. Because of this, it is no surprise that we would use it while homeschooling also. There are many ways to use essential oils in your homeschool.

We love to have our diffuser going when we work on our homeschool lessons. To help the kids stay focused, we like to use peppermint and wild orange in the diffuser. Sometimes I will add in frankincense. These essential oils are great for uplifting the mood and giving energy. I love this combo for that 3 PM slump also! Not only that but the wild orange essential oil helps to support a healthy immune function. This is important in our house year-round, pandemic, or not.

Not only do we use the diffuser, sometimes I will have the kids apply the oils to themselves. Our favorites are Steady or Thinker. Also, Balance is another one that has the same effects as Steady, but more for the older kids, or adults.

The Steady Grounding Blend helps evoke a calm and balanced mood. It also helps promote feelings of relaxation and calm. We love starting the day with this oil. Thinker helps create a supportive and positive environment for work and study time. This blend is awesome for when distractions are high. We use it when the kids need to focus and pay attention.

Balance is more for mom. The warm, woody aroma promotes a calming atmosphere. This is one that I like to apply daily!

There isn’t much to do with the oils when it comes to homeschooling. We stick with the basics. When something isn’t broken, you don’t fix it!

If you want to know more about doTERRA Essential Oils, send me an email at hopkinshomeschool(@)

What kind of oils do you like to use in your homeschool?

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Smile ~ Five Minute Friday

I am back again for another Five Minute Friday post. One word, five minutes. There is no planning, no editing, just writing what comes to mind.

This week the word is Smile. Here I go…

What does the word smile mean to me?

When I hear the word smile I think of my kids. I love to see them smile. Knowing that their smile is gold to me.

I love to smile when I think of them learning in our homeschool. Knowing that I am the one teaching them and that they are learning about God and using the bible as our history spine.

I smile when I know that my kids will grow up knowing and loving God. At least I pray they do. I will give them a strong foundation, one they can lean on when the world is trying to change their mind.

I love seeing them smile as they reach a goal, finish something hard, and just get through a day sometimes.

I love seeing the smiles at church. I miss seeing those as we have not gone back yet. My husband is very immunocompromised, so we are extra careful. Not fearful, just careful.

I love that when you smile, you can see it on your whole face, not just your lips. Your eyes light up and smile. Your whole face is a smile.

I love that giving smiles is free. Smiles are contagious. You can pass a smile and see great results.

One smile can change someone’s life.


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Gather ‘Round Asia Unit Study

We have fallen in love with the Gather Round Homeschool Curriculum. This is almost an all in one homeschool curriculum that is unit study based, allowing everyone in the family to sit down and learn together.

We went through a stage in our homeschool that had me busy with many different things. Because of this, I could not keep up with all the things that needed to get done for three kids in all the different subjects. I was beginning to feel like I was failing my kids. I didn’t want this to happen. Enter in Gather Round Homeschool.

Gather Round Homeschool covers all subjects for all grades, except for math (but that is changing soon!). That means, you all sit down together and learn together. No more different levels and books for each kid. That meant that I could school all three of my younger kids (my oldest had already graduated) at the same time. I wasn’t spread out among each of them all day each day.

We fell in love. I fell in love. Because I was having fun with it, the kids had fun with it. Our journey with Gather Round had started.

This month we are starting our Asia unit with Gather Round. This means, while learning all the subjects, we are focusing on Asia while we learn all the subjects. This month we will learn more about Indonesia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Syria, and other Asian countries. This is exciting.

Now that we have moved past our busy season in life, we are able to do more. That means we can add in more books from the book list that is provided with each study. We can follow more rabbit trails when we find something interesting. We can just do more. But, we don’t have to on the days when the sun is shining and we just want to get outside. This curriculum is great for our family, whether busy or not.

Some of the fun add ons are the cookbook that goes along with each of the countries. If you want to bring your learning to life in your homeschool, this is the way to do it. Involve the kids, have them help cook the food and everyone can enjoy the food while discussing what was learned about the country. There are cursive books also. This will allow you to teach your child to write in cursive while using the bible verses that are used in the main unit study.

This is a curriculum that I know we will be using for years to come. I have added a few things, but I know that if we get busy again, we can take those out and still get a full learning experience each time we open our books.

Check back in a few weeks to see what we have thought of our Asia study!


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Essential Oils For Sleep

I am in love with my essential oils. I never would have thought that 6 years ago I would have tried and fallen in love with them. But, I did! One of the main reasons I wanted to try them was for sleep issues in our house. Today I want to share some of my favorites for when the sun goes down.


I love the Serenity blend from doTERRA. This oil combines Lavender, Cedarwood, Ho Wood, and Vetiver to name a few. These oils create a calming and soothing aroma. This is a great oil to diffuse at night as it creates a restful environment.

You can combine the use of this oil with the Serenity Restful Complex Softgels. These soft gels can help relieve occasional sleeplessness, promote healthy relaxation and sleep, as well as calming the nervous system, and reducing stress.

Calmer for Sleep

This is a fun new blend. It is designed with kids in mind, and my kids love to use this on their own. The Calmer Restful Blend combines the soothing properties of Lavender, Cananga, Buddha Wood, and Roman Chamomile. This blend creates a restful atmosphere at bedtime. It helps create a relaxing and positive aroma and a soothing environment.


Of course, I can’t talk about essential oils for sleep without mentioning lavender. Lavender has been used for centuries. The Egyptians and Romans loved using Lavender for bathing, relaxation, and even as a perfume. For bedtime, you can diffuse the lavender, add a few drops to your pillow, bedding, or the bottoms of your feet.

What essential oils do you like to use for sleep?


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Coding with Pitsco Education – A Review

coding with smart buddy by Pitsco Education
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


Little Miss has had some time learning about STEM and coding through a library program before our library was forced to cancel these programs. When the chance arrived to try out the Smart Buddies at Home – Jodi from Pitsco Education we jumped at the chance!

coding with smart buddy by Pitsco Education

What Is It

The Smart Buddies at Home are a fun way for your child to learn a beginning coding, or learn more about coding if they have already started learning about it. With the Smart Buddies at Home, we got Jodi the doll, her self balancing robot scooter called the Siggy, and a USB charger. We downloaded the app on our Kindle, you can also get it on iOS, Android, and Chromebook.  From the website, I was able to download the Smart Buddies at Home Coding Program Parent Guide. From here, we were ready to go!

How Did We Use It

We did not schedule this in our daily homeschool schedule. Instead, we used this as a fun break from school. Don’t tell Little Miss all that she was learning while she was “playing” with this “toy”.  She absolutely loved having the free time to play with this. She just wanted to play.

However, I took the time to check out the Parent’s Guide. This gave me a great introduction to this Smart Buddy.  There are three tasks to do in Activity One. This is the introduction activity. This will introduce you and your child to the program and pseudocode. Since Little Miss has already done some coding, she was kind of bored during this stage. For those new to coding, this is a great way to get their brains thinking in the coding frame.

Activities two and three get your child use to using the app and your Smart Buddy. These will help you through the tutorials that are on the app. Completing these tutorials will help your child be able to use the app and the Smart Buddy with ease. Following these activities are two more. There is The Hot Dog Challenge and creating your own challenges. When they say challenge, they mean it. These will force your child to think outside of the box.

We took our time with these activities. While Little Miss wanted to play, I could tell that these would be very important activities to complete if we really wanted to learn more about coding. These activities built on each other and allowed us to benefit the most from using this fun “toy” in our home and homeschool.

Smart Buddy Coding

After we completed these activities, it was no holds bar for Little Miss. I allowed her to do as she wished with her new Smart Buddy. Even though we were done with the suggested activities, she was still learning each time she opened the app. There is no end to the learning that can happen with the Smart Buddy!

What Did We Think

Little Miss was in love. She loved the fact that she could control this whole thing from her Kindle. She had so much fun learning more about coding. This fun little toy added so much learning into the summer days. I loved that she could learn while playing since she doesn’t like sitting down with textbooks that much. Working through the activities allowed us to learn a lot more about how coding worked and allowed us to learn more about our Smart Buddy.

Little Miss was in love. She loved the fact that she could control this whole thing from her Kindle. Click To Tweet

After going through the activities, Little Miss had a lot of fun just playing around with all the different options. This allowed her to express herself with coding. We loved the Smart Buddy and we hope to add more to the house!

You can read more reviews of the various products from Pitsco Education right here:

STEM At Your Fingertips - Elementary, Middle & High School STEM Kits {Pitsco Education Reviews}

Find Pitsco Education on social media here: Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest YouTube

If you are interested in a Smart Buddy, Pitsco Education is giving one away. Check it out right here: