Learning to Play Piano with Simply Music – A Homeschool Crew Review

We just moved at the end of last month. That was a feat. It was also an adventure. One thing we found out, the previous owners were willing to leave the piano that was in the house! This was exciting for everyone in the house. What was even more exciting was that we grabbed access to the Music & Creativity – Foundation Course from Simply Music to review. What great timing!

What It Is

Simply Music is an online program with videos lessons taught by Neil Moore. To use this program, you will need two things, a piano or a keyboard and a computer with internet. 

The Music & Creativity – Foundation Course consists of 19 lessons plus a quick start for those who want to play yesterday!

Each lesson will contain the Lesson Content (videos), Reference Materials, and Lesson Content (soundtracks when you are working on learning to play songs).

Lesson One is all about the basics. These videos, while seemingly boring, were packed full of information for those who are beginners. I really appreciated how Neil went through all the basics and we got started with making sure we had all that we needed, the piano and my laptop to watch our lessons on.

Lesson Two was broken down into two learning strategies. These are actually sprinkled throughout the program. The first two that Neil introduced us to were to make sure we were learning slowly and to control the events. I loved that he told me and my kids to go slowly. This is a great part of this program, going at our own pace and going slowly when we need it.

Once you start Lesson Three, you start the first song, Dreams Come True. This is where we are right now. There are six parts to this lesson. We have been spending a lot of time mastering each part before we move onto the next. This is the part of a self-paced lesson that I am liking.

After we master this song, we have about 10 other songs that we will be working on. At the pace we are going, I can see this program taking us about 24 -30 weeks. I am assuming that when the kids and I get used to playing, the later lessons will move quicker. Either way, we have a great start at playing the piano!

How We Used It

We got access to this course before we started our move. I was able to preview the first couple of lessons, but it wasn’t fun without the piano in front of us. After finally moving in and being done with the unpacking, it was close to the end of the review period, so we are not as far as I had hoped, however, we are excited to keep learning!

We took the first two lessons and watched them together. Depending on the video and the length, we would do on average, one or two videos at a sitting. We set aside about 3-4 days a week to watch the videos. If you are not in the middle of a move, I am sure you could get through the first two lessons in a day or two and get started on your song a lot faster than we did!

Once we got to the first song, this is when time slowed down for us. We watched the video together. After that, we would each take some time, about 15-20 minutes, to practice each part. I refused to let any of us move on to the next part of the lesson until we had it mastered. Neil takes the time to break the song down into small chunks. As we learn and master one part, we can work on adding the next part. There is no way to get overwhelmed.

What We Thought

We love this program! The kids and I are able to each do it at our own pace. I never thought I would be playing the piano, but I am loving that fact that I am able to figure it out and enjoy it. Not only that but the same program that can teach me also teaches my 10 and 8-year-olds as well!

We don’t have to feel rushed, we can take our time, and we are told to do that. We are told to slow down and focus. I really appreciate a teacher taking the time to tell us that. It is not about how fast we can learn to play, it is making sure we know what we are doing. 

Knowing that this program is broken down to help us, makes it fun for everyone. I am not a musically inclined person. I have issues knowing what notes are what, and I have had fear of not being able to allow my kids to learn how to play music without paying for a teacher. Neil is a great teacher, and in honor of their 20th anniversary, you can get this foundation course for free! What better way for a family to introduce learning how to play music at a price that fits every budget!

While we didn’t get as much time with this program before sharing our review, the other families that reviewed it had a lot more time! Check out their reviews right here: 

Learn to Play the Piano with Music & Creativity - Foundation Course {Simply Music Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

Biblical Worldview History with Pathway to Liberty – A Homeschool Crew Review

My boys love history, they are like their father when it comes to that. I have never really liked it. This made it hard for me to teach this subject. We have tried many things, but nothing met my expectations or theirs at the same time. That is until we found Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum!

Ray Ray and I have had the chance to check out Pathway to Liberty’s World History (Year 4 Level 2) a part of A Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum. We are excited to tell you all about it!

What It Is

For this review, we received a spiral bound teacher guide as well as a spiral bound student guide. The student guide is about 100 pages longer than the teacher guide because it has the extra pages for the students to write their answers on for each lesson.

Each guide starts the week the same way. We see the overview of the week. This has the scripture, principle, and leading idea for the week. There are four lessons for each week. We not only see our current level but all four levels and what is to be done for each lesson. There are also writing options for each level as well as ways to expand the history and vocabulary words.


Each week, the lessons are clearly labeled which makes it easy to see what needs to be done. The pages are black and white, which is simple to print if you get the digital edition.

How We Used It

Ray Ray and I would sit down together at the beginning of the week, sometimes Monday, other weeks it was Tuesday due to appointments. We would look over the weekly overview and talk about what we would be doing each day. This gave him an overview and allowed him to mentally plan what was going to happen.

Many of the reading was in the guides, but we did also use The Chain of Liberty (find it here) and A History of US (we found all of the ones we needed at our library). Some of the readings got a little long for Ray Ray, so we would take turns reading them.


Since there are only four lessons each week, we would take the extra day to work on our vocabulary and writing. The weeks when we started on Tuesday instead of Monday, we would only do the vocabulary on Friday. I really appreciated that all the levels writing options are listed in each guide. This meant some weeks I could have Ray Ray do his level or level one if it was a tough week. Meeting him in the middle is always something I love to do.

What We Thought

This is the history curriculum that I have been searching for! It is based on Biblical Worldview and shows Christ in history. I love the scripture verses and principles at the start of each week and how the rest of the week grows off that.

The lessons take about 20-30 minutes, but they are not boring. They are fun and engaging. There are YouTube videos that are made to go along with some of the lessons. These really made Ray Ray even more interested. He loves watching YouTube, so watching these was a fun addition to the lessons.

I really enjoyed being able to open the teacher’s guide and not feel lost. I could easily work through this with Ray Ray. The hardest part I had was to go on my libraries website to get the A History of US books on hold for when I needed them.

If you are looking for a history curriculum that is biblically based, Pathway to Liberty is what you are looking for!

Read the rest of the reviews from the Crew right here:

Universal History, The Middle Ages, US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

Times Alive ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

"I don't want to do math today…unless it is that fun one on the computer!" This has become a major part of my homeschool day these last few weeks. This is all thanks to a program from Times Table the Fun Way called Times Alive.

Times Alive is an online program that teaches your children the multiplication table with fun stories and songs. There are some simple requirements to this program:

  • Requires an internet connection
  • For use with one computer at a time
  • Keeps track of several different students as long as they return to same computer.
  • Students may stop anywhere and resume where they left off. The program remembers

There are numerous other activities that you can also purchase to go with this program, but they are not required for the level of learning that will happen. In as little as 20 minutes a day, your child will learn and master the multiplication table, even if they hate math!

Ray Ray loves to figure out math…in his head. He fights every math lesson that we do. He would rather talk to me about math than work on it. But Times Alive takes his boring math lessons and turns them into a fun game. This is the key to his heart. Make something a game and he is ready to conquer it until he wins.

I had all the plans to follow the strict 20 minutes a day for 3-4 days a week, but I had one problem. Ray Ray wouldn't stop once he started! This was something new, and I loved it! He would sit there playing this "game" and learning how to multiple without fighting me, in fact, he asked to do math and I could not say no!

There are 18 different lessons in this program, these include learning the times tables 0-9 along with a lot of fun review mixed in throughout. Your child will not be learning these in numerical order. Many of the lessons are set up in a similar fashion. First, we start off by watching a video of the lesson. These lessons are fun interactive stories that introduce the facts we will be learning. Our numbers have a story as we watch this lesson, and we remember them, and their story. This helps with remembering the facts as we learn them.

After the lesson, we get to learn a song. This song is one of those songs that you just can't forget. One that gets stuck in your head and you want to sing it over and over again. Ha! Here we are memorizing the facts again!

After we have heard the story and sang the song, we get to do a quick quiz to see what we remember. These quizzes are not the scary, forget everything you learned quiz. These quizzes, show you the picture of the characters you met in the story. You are able to look at the picture to help you think about the facts you learned. If you can remember the story that goes with the picture, you will remember the facts that you are trying to memorize.

To make sure that your child is retaining what they are learning, we get to do some progress reports. These are simple and easy to do. This is a great way to see what your child has retained, or what they need to go back and work on some more. If you notice that they need extra work, you can easily clear a score with a password and have them redo the progress report once they have worked on the lesson a little longer.

We have had so much fun using Times Alive to help us learn our multiplication facts. Finding something that is a game yet helps Ray Ray learn is a great win for me. He enjoys this program and asks to use it. I love the set up and how I don't have to plan anything, other than when he is going to spend some time sitting down to work on learning. When you find a program like this with a busy house, you love it and want more of it. That is exactly how I feel about Times Alive.

While you are here, you should spend time reading the other reviews of Times Alive and see how it worked for these other families!

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

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Crew Disclaimer

Homeschool Legacy Pirates or Privateers: You Decide ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Are you a Pirate, or are you a Privateer? Now is the time to decide! And you can have some fun learning while you are at it! Homeschool Legacy has a super fun Once-a-Week Micro Study called Pirates or Privateers: You Decide that we had the chance to check out!


The Homeschool Legacy Once-a-Week Micro Studies are a great way to add some extra fun into the learning each week for four weeks, or to take a break from the normal and do a quick 4-day weekly study. Everything you need is right here even the extras, or where to find them.


The first thing I found when I downloaded our Unit Study was a great introduction from Founder Sharon Gibson. In this short, one page introduction/welcome, I found all that I would need to be prepared for the upcoming four weeks. Sharon first told me about the family read aloud that she suggested for this study, Treasure Island. This is a great book to read during a study like this, and I loved having the idea there for me so I didn't have to plan for it.

Next, Sharon gives us the section to look at in your local library to find extra books to read during this study. This is great. I love having extra books on hand. The kids usually grab a book or two during our "quiet time" each day, and knowing that they have the options to read something that we are learning about is great! I may have stalked the library website and requested more than we needed for books, but that is an ok thing in this unit study.


Sharon also gave us some ideas for family movie night that went along with this study. Yes, a fun, popcorn filled movie night with movies that are on the same topic as what we are learning about. No, not the boring movies you slept through at school when you were younger, but actual fun action packed movies that were well loved in our house!

Once I got into the actual study, I was happy with how easy it was to understand. I could simply save it in my Dropbox and open it on the iPad for my teacher portion. As much as I love a physical, hands on copy, I loved being able to click the links as we needed them and see the fun that Sharon had for us.

Each week we studied different time of the pirates or privateers. And each week we covered different subjects. Subjects like History, Language Arts, Music and Geography. Sharon had it all set up that I could just pull this open, easily see what was needed for the lesson grab those simple items. This is wonderful for a busy mom of multiple kids!

We loved learning the fun of the Pirates and Privateers. We took our time and did this every Friday for four weeks. This was a great way to have school on the busiest day of the week for us. We were able to still spend about 30 minutes, more if you and your kids get really interested in the topic of the day. This did happen, and I found my kids reading the library books often during the week. This allowed us to have a base. We loved the movie night idea and took the ideas to make that happen. We were able to see what we were learning about on the TV and the kids loved that.

We had a lot of fun with this unit study. This was one of the first that we tried a full unit study like this. We enjoyed it. We found a fun new way to add some variety into our week and keep our homeschool fun!


Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}


Homeschool Legacy has many other unit studies available and the other families of the crew had a chance to look at different ones. I know that two of those studies are perfect for this time of the year. One of those is the Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Micro Study, and yes, you can still finish this by Thanksgiving! The second is Christmas Comes to America. This is a regular Unit Study and would be great to start at any point to be ready for Christmas! Head on over with me and see what everyone thought of their studies!

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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Crew Disclaimer

Internet Monitoring with Accountable2You ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Today's youth have access to so many things via the internet. They can access the internet from almost anywhere with any device they have in their hands. This is great for some things, but for others, this can be horrible. How do you keep yourself and your entire family accountable?

A2Y Homeschool Review

Our family has had the chance to check out the Family Plan from Accountable2You. This is an internet accountability/monitoring system for almost every device that you have in your house. I was super excited to try this out and I am happy to tell you all about it!

Accountable2You is a Christian based company that has a goal to build character through accountability. They opened in August of 2006 and since than they have built software for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even Chrome. We even used this on our Kindles.

There are multiple different options for membership. You can do the Individual Plan which will give you up to 6 devices. There is also a Small Business Plan. This is great for the small businesses. You can have access for unlimited devices with the plan. And there is the Family Plan, the one we used.

The Family Plan lets you use this app on up to 20 devices, you have unlimited accountability partners, create child user accounts and set time limit alerts for each account. This is great for a family and covered all our devices without a problem.

We set up accounts on the major devices, those that were used without parental supervision 24/7 first. These were the ones that the kids took to their rooms, or those that stayed in the pocket of a teenager almost all the time. Mom was the accountability partner, so I would be able to get the notifications if something was off.

It was very easy to set up the accounts and the chat option was awesome when I had any questions. When I used that during open hours, I had an answer almost instantly. I had the accounts set up within about an hour and was happy to be able to check in on the devices as I wanted. This was something that I have wanted for some time, as the kids are learning to explore the internet more and more. I don't want them to feel restricted, but I want them to be accountable for what they are doing.

A2Y Times

When setting each device up, I could pick and choose many different options. First, I made myself the accountability partner for the kids. After talking with daddy and knowing that he goes to bed early and I stay up late, we decided that I would get the notifications if someone was on when they weren't supposed to be. Next I set up time limits. I picked the normal night hours of 10:30pm until 6am. If any of the devices decided to try anything between those times, I would get a message. This allowed the kids to bring the kindles to bed for reading or music, and I could trust that they were shut off at the right time.

A2Y Time

Finally, I made a simple list of objectionable words. These are the words that I want to know if they are being pulled up. I want to make sure that they are not doing what they know they shouldn't. I want them to be accountable. This gives them the choice on their own. I don't have to be a dragon breathing down their necks watching everything they do. They can take the device and use it, but use it in the right way.

While Moe Man was a little hesitant at first with this program, he found out it was better than he thought. He was worried that this would be a program that would need a password or would be hard to use. When I handed him his phone and Kindle after installing the app, he was happy to see there was nothing noticeable to him. He didn't have to come to me for anything and could go about using his devices as he wanted. This was a great thing to win the approval of the teenage boy. Knowing that I was checking in, gave him that extra boost to make the right choices.

A2Y Reports

Ray Ray loves to read before bed, and we have a lot of Kindle books that interest him, as well as digital library books. He takes the Kindle to bed often and I love knowing that I can make sure he is just reading and not trying to fib me. He did not know anything about the Accountable2You app until I pulled up the report in front of him asking about why he was on Netflix one night. Since then, he knows that he should make the right choices.

I love being able to hop on the computer and pull up a report of any of the devices. I can do a 24-hour report all the way to 15 days. This report shows me EVERYTHING that the devices do. Well, almost. Apple has not allowed full access to their devices. We can download the web browser and I can see what they are searching for on the web, but that is about it. I think Apple needs to change their mind, because as a mom, I love being able see what the kids are doing when on the devices, and to trust that they are making the right choices while still being a mom and checking in.

A2Y Apple

Are you a family with devices that the kids have access to? Do you want them to be accountable for their time on the device? You should check out Accountable2You and see if this is something that you could take advantage of! Want to hear other opinions? Check out the reviews here!

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

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Crew Disclaimer

CrossTimber Personalized Name Meaning ~ A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Why do you have the name you have? What does it mean? Have you spent time researching your name and finding more about it? We had the chance to check out the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse from CrossTimber and we surprised daddy with this wonderful gift!

CrossTimber Reivew

CrossTimber is a home-based business that was started in 1994 by John Denhart and his sister as a printing company for local farmers and businesses. John has a high standard of honesty, business integrity and customer service. This was seen immediately when I started looking at the items they had available. Even with a large "rush" of orders from the members of the Homeschool Review Crew, John made it a point to treat me as though I was the most important customer in his day.


Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews


By 2005 CrossTimber had over 100 different background images for their Name Meaning Gifts. And today CrossTimber has over 1240 different name meaning gifts available to purchase. There are pictures that can be printed and put into frames before shipping to you, ready to gift. These come in a 5×7 size and an 8×10. There is also a 10×12 plaque that can hold 1, 2 or 3 names. This is a great gift for newlyweds, or even for an anniversary gift!

These were the two things that I looked when looking on the website. But here is the thing…these are not the only thing that CrossTimber has to offer! They also make Coffee Mugs, Music Boxes, Name Cards and Bookmarks. All of which are just as beautiful as the next. In fact, we got a simple bookmark with our 5×7 Name Meaning Picture. Both were just as beautiful as the other!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews


After checking out the website, I decided to sit down with the kids. I asked them if they thought this might be a gift idea for dad to show him that we appreciate all that he has done for us. They all agreed. Now this alone was a win for me. Having 3 kids agree without arguing! This meant they all felt the same way as I did and we now started a secret mission to pick out and plan for this surprise! Have you ever tried to tell your 16, 8 and 5-year-old to not tell dad something? Yeah, not fun!

The next step was looking through all the different background pictures. Which one did we want to pick. This is where the fighting came in. We all thought that we should pick something different. This is when John came in! He sent me name meaning, origins and bible verses for everyone in the house. For a moment, I wanted to change my mind. I wanted to get something different, but we had already made our choice. Now maybe Christmas will have some surprises, but that is a different story.

Finally, we had decided on a single background to go with dad's name meaning. Now came the hard part, the wait. I knew that this was a small company, and I knew that we had bombarded them with orders, but I was still shocked when I received a notification that my order had shipped. Yay! And the expected delivery date was a day that dad would be gone at work, even better!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews


Now comes the tricky part…I got a notification that we would be getting this gift a day ealry…when dad was home. I talked with the kids, I got dad out of the house and called the Post Office. This was a true Secret Mission that had to be pulled off. We were able to get to a safe point, now to get to the "library" before dad caught on. We made our trip, what homeschool family doesn't go to the library?

We had our chance to grab our package, wrap it up and still surprise dad with this, I can't even tell you how beautiful, gift! After lunch, which seemed to take forever, we pulled out our gift bag and told dad that we had a gift for him. When asked why, we simply said because he is dad and needs a gift every once in a while.

CrossTimber Review

Baby Girl hopped up on daddy's lap and we all gathered around. Slowly and suspiciously, daddy opened his gift. He made sure to tell us he knew something was up, but we just wanted him to open this up! Once he did, he was speechless. Who wouldn't be? I was, and it wasn't even my name! John, his family and everyone at CrossTimber exceeded our expectations and gave us something beautiful to give to someone who meant a lot to us!

CrossTimber Review

This was such a special thing, and we were so happy to have the chance to give this to dad! The meaning is spot on, and the bible verse that was included is something that touches us. This is our dad. This is my husband. CrossTimber just took his name and gave us something that was perfect for our dad and husband. The only thing we noticed was that we could have used one more staple on the back of the frame. That was it! And I think this could have been a simple mistake with the rush of orders they had. We are not worried about this. This is not something that would ever stop us from ordering again.

CrossTimber Review

We gave this simple, yet meaningful gift as a just because gift, but there are other members who have used this for other gift ideas. Check out the other reviews right here!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews


Thank you CrossTimber, John and family! We love what you gave us and will be back for more!

Before I go, check this out! CrossTimber has a giveaway happening right now! I entered, now it is your turn! Head on over and get yourself entered now!

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway


Social Media Links:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/meaning.name/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/crosstimber 


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Crew Disclaimer

Educeri Ready to Teach Lessons ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

When homeschooling, you find a time when you need to supplement your child's learning. This can happen either when they are struggling, or when they want to expand on what they are currently learning. When you have 3, almost 4 kids who are homeschooling, you look for an option that can cover more than one grade and more than one subject to help keep your expenses down. But where do you find something that fits this? We had the chance to review Educeri …….  Educeri a division of DataWORKS and their Educeri Lesson Subscription Service.

Educeri Homeschool Crew Review

What Is It

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service is a magical site that provides our homeschool with over 1,000 lesson plans for you to access. With all of these lesson plans, you cover all grades Kindergarten up to 12th grade in subjects like Math, Science, Language Arts, History, even Art. PE and Music.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Each one of the lessons is presented in a PowerPoint format. There are student handouts that go with the lessons for your child to fill out while learning, or after you are done presenting the lesson.

How We Used It

I was excited to check out the Lesson Subscription Service. I looked forward to having help with my lesson planning and finding supplements for my children. I spent time looking over everything that was available and checking to see what we could use. I was able to find a lot of the core subjects, especially for the lower grades. This was nice for Ray Ray and Little Miss, but I was hoping for more for Moe Man and his high school subjects, especially the extra electives.

Educeri Kindergarten Options

I found at least one lesson for each one of the children, while it was easy for the little two, I spent some time with looking for Moe Man. I added these into the current curriculum that we were using. I had to set time aside to work with each child, as the lessons required me to help out with the teaching instead of allowing them to self-teach.

Once I had all the small details worked out, I was able to actually teach the lessons. For Moe Man, I spent more time searching. There were limited lessons for this age and these subjects. I was able to find a language arts lesson that we needed to brush up on, so we sat down with Determine a Central Idea and Analyze. This lesson had the PowerPoint for me to teach and an additional Student Handout to have him work on.

I went over the idea with Moe Man in the lesson. I made sure that he understood what we were talking about, and we were able to work on the handout as we worked on the lesson. I actually felt like I was sitting at the front of a classroom teaching this to a room full of students. The lesson gave me everything that I needed to feel this confident, even if it was just one student instead of a full classroom.

I did this same thing with Ray Ray and Little Miss. Once again, teaching the lesson and working with them on their handouts so they would be able to practice what they were learning.

2nd Grade Language Arts

What We Thought

While I was hoping for a lot more independent learning with this program, I actually found myself spending more time teaching it. Yes, it was less planning time as I was able to open and go, but I had to be there teaching it. This is tough when it comes to a homeschool mom of more than one child. I loved the lesson plan options for the lower grades as there was so many, but when I needed something for Moe Man, it was hard.

The kids showed improvement when using these lessons. We enjoyed the break from our normal curriculum and loved the way this was set up. It was easy to teach from and easy for the kids to pick up on.

We were not the only family to check out Educeri and their Lesson Subscription Service. Want to hear some other reviews? Check them out right here!

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service

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Crew Disclaimer

The Cat of Bubastes ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Are you ready to go back in time to Ancient Egypt? Are you ready to join in the adventure, the mystery, the suspense? Are you ready to follow along with Amuba and Jethro as they are captured by Egyptians and enslaved? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to check out The Cat of Bubastes from Heirloom Audio Productions.

The Cat of Bubastes

For this review, we were blessed to have received a physical copy of the two CDs and access to the bonus items. These bonus items included, Study Guide, a soundtrack, an mp3 of the audio drama, an ebook, a behind-the-scenes video, a couple of posters, and more. With all of this, we were set to start off on our adventure!

We used this package deal as a part of our history lessons. We have always loved the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions, and while they don't always align with our history time period, we got lucky this time around.

The Cat of Bubastes

Mom started off this time by reading through the study guide. I wanted an idea of what we would be learning instead of us just jumping in to the listening part of the fun! I love the study guides that are available, and love being able to use them to make this a true history lesson. Each section of questions contains three different sections. These sections are Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Word.

I started each lesson off by talking to the kids about the Listening Well questions. I wanted them to know what to be listening for. Each track on the CDs has its own section in the Study Guide. This allows you to pick and choose how much you want to do. Since we were not going to stop every 3-4 minutes, mom picked the questions she would be asking.

Study Guide
Study Guide

After the kids knew what to listen for, we started listening. I allowed the younger kids to color while listening, and would look for time period appropriate printables for them to work on. This kept their fingers busy while still keeping their ears open. After the selected tracks we would stop and work on the questions. We would work on a Thinking Further question or two. I also worked with the kids on making sure they understood the defining words and would help them if they didn't.

Once again, we were pleased with our experience with Heirloom Audio Productions. The kids get excited every time they hear the opening song! They have been known to steal my CDs and sneak off to their rooms to listen to the stories over and over again. The Cat of Bubastes has been no exception. The sound, the action, the feeling that you get when you listen to this audio drama. You get pulled into the story of Amuba and his journey. You hold your breath waiting to hear more at every turn. The gasps from the kids when the unexpected happens, the sheer delight when the good happens, the look of fear on their faces when the not so good happens. I saw so much more from them during listening to this audio drama than I have seen while they watch their favorite TV shows.

The Cat of Bubastes has earned a spot on the shelf next to the rest of our Heirloom Audio and G.A. Henty collection. This has been loved, and will continue to be loved in the house for years to come!

Have you fallen in love with Heirloom Audio Productions yet? What is your favorite one? What do you hope they come up with next?

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Check out the reviews from the other Homeschool Crew families here:

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Follow Heirloom Audio Productions on social media here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeirloomAudio
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeirloomStories 
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Ultimate Phonics Reading Program ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Reading, it is the most important part of a child's education, at least in my personal opinion. I love making sure that my children have a good base in their reading skills, but sometimes I need some help. I was happy when we got to try the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning.


The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a program that you download on your computer and use. There are over 200 lessons available on this download and will work with many ages, we used it for Little Miss (K) and Ray Ray (2nd).

Each lessons contains different sections. You will start with the Idea/Pattern. This is simply an introduction to the lesson, what you will be focusing on and learning. The next step is the Word List. This list will show you and your child the words that they will be working on learning to read during the lesson. Following this is the words themselves. Your child will be working on reading the words, one phonic/phonic set at a time. There is no time, so they can repeat this as much as they need to until they get it on their own. Finally, they see the words in sentences. The word is in sentences that include other words that have been learned already.

Practice Words

While my main focus with this program was to work with Ray Ray on his phonics, we also had Little Miss using this about once or twice a week. Ray Ray was busy using this about four days a week as a part of his current reading program. It took a few tries to find the right lesson to start on, but once we got there, we kept going. Every day, Ray Ray would sit down and work on the lesson for the day. I would make sure that he spent time on the phonics that he may not have understood, and watched him excel.

Word Bank

Reading is not something that Ray Ray loves to do…for school. So, I would make sure to sit with him during these lessons. I would make sure that he was actually trying to sound out the phonics before skipping ahead. I would only allow him to hear the words or phonics if he was having a hard time. After the first few lessons I noticed that I had to remind him less often to work on his reading and noticed that he would be working on that on his own. I was happy to see this, especially from him!

Little Miss loves anything school, so since we were able to switch easily between the two kids, I let her "play" on here. While I didn't force her to do as much as Ray Ray, I wanted to let her get some solid foundations set up when it came to reading. She didn't need me to sit by her, and had fun copying the spoken words. This made it fun for me to listen to while I was busy making lunch, or supper.


The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is not like most computer based programs you see on the market today. This is the bare minimum when it comes to extras. Their focus is on reading and not on the colors, sounds or graphics. They want to teach your kids how to read and not distract them with all the fun stuff. This worked great for Ray Ray, who is easily distracted by the simple colors or graphics on the screen. This made him focus on his reading and not on the "game".


This program has been just what I was looking for with Ray Ray. He is the child who taught himself how to read, yet there were some things that he didn't pick up on. While he loves to read his books, when it comes to school, he does not like to read at all. I had tried everything that I could think of. When I started him on Ultimate Phonics, I was just hoping to get him into reading a little better, I never thought that I would see him excel as he has.

Ray Ray loves graphics, in fact, he is the child who I limit the games with the most because of his love of graphics. Even school games. When I saw that Ultimate Phonics had the sounds of the phonics and words, but absolutely no extra graphics, I was pleased. This was not the same with Ray Ray, as he wanted to play "games" for school. After seeing what he was capable of, I didn't care about his arguments for a game, I was happy to see him reading bigger words and reading them correctly.

Super easy to jump from one lesson to the next.
Super easy to jump from one lesson to the next.

If you want to give your kids a solid foundation in their reading skills, if you want to let them learn without the extras, if you want to help a struggling reader advance, I suggest that you head over and check out the free sample of this program. You don't have to take my word for it if you don't want to. Try it for yourself and see what I am talking about. If you still have doubts after that, check out the reviews of these other families that took the time to use this program in their homeschool by clicking below!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

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Getting Started With French ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Learning a new language can be a daunting task. What if I told you that you could find a program that works great for homeschoolers or self-taught students of any age? Would you want to know more? Well let me tell you about Armfield Academic Press and their Getting Started With French program!

Homeschool Crew Review

What Is It

Getting Started With French is a soft covered book with 172 simple lessons. This book is designed to be self-contained and easy to be self-taught. The purchase of this book, gives you everything that you need to teach yourself, or your child how to speak French. You don't need to buy anything else, the MP3s of the pronunciations are included as a download with this book.

While there are 172 lessons and you could do one each day, this is meant to be slef-paced. If you need more time on one lesson, spend more time lesson, go for it!

At the beginning of this book, you will find a How To Use This Book section. This part of the book tells you all about the rest of the book. Each lesson will start with a new word or words that will be in bold writing. You will find this word along with the definition of this word. You will also learn how to pronounce this word. While this will be written, you will be able to hear it in the MP3 download.


There are no real tests or quizzes when it comes to this book, however, you are able to go back a lesson or two and verbally ask yourself or your child questions on what was learned. The lessons are quick, and effective. They should take you no longer than 30 minutes a day. This is a program where more is less. Shorter, yet more frequent practice is the key here.

How We Used It

Ray Ray is my French boy. He wants to run away to France and sleep under the Eiffel Tower one day. Because of this fascination, he is open to any and every way to learn the language. Ray Ray set his schedule when it came to this curriculum. I did not want to force this, and since it is described as a self-paced program, I followed that. I would see how much he remembered from the day or two before moving forward. If he seemed to want or need more time with a lesson, I gave it to him.

While we didn't have an actual lesson schedule, we made sure that we were using this program every day during the week. I would sit down and listen to the pronunciation with Ray Ray, we would talk about the lesson together and really had fun with this! We did not just listen to the MP3s and move on, we spoke the words we were learning and talked about the lessons and what we were learning with the grammar and language rules.


What We Thought

Ray Ray loves French. He loves easy school. This was the best of both worlds for him. The lessons were short, and without an actual schedule, he was able to make sure he was learning. He didn't have to struggle as he went along, and loved listening to the pronunciations and author commentary on the lessons. Seeing the words in front of him and hearing them at the same time really made things click for him.

There are no frilly pictures in the book. No nonsense, just the lessons. They are written so that Ray Ray could understand them and I could understand them as well. Any age and any person would be able to understand these nice lessons. I love watching Ray Ray learn, and I love being able to learn at the same time. I love not having to dig through a bunch of curriculum each day and that I just open the book and MP3s and he basically does this on his own.

This book is re-usable. Do you know what that means? I can save money and Little Miss or Baby Girl can use this when they are ready to learn a new language. If Moe Man decided that he wants to learn French for his foreign language, he can start at any time. I don't have to buy workbooks for each child. I don't have to worry about anything extra. This is something that is key to me when it comes to finding homeschool curriculums!

We were one of 50 families to try this program out. Want to hear about the other experiences? Check out their reviews right here:

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

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