Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership {a TOS review}

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
For quite some time now we have been working with the learning method of unit studies.  When I plan our unit studies I like to do so with an interest based mind-set.  So, for example, what ever happens to be my child's current passion (within reason) we will study. 
As they get older I have found it is hard to come up with themed pages for them to put down their thoughts or what they've learned, as a lot of printables offered are for Kinder or First Grade.  Never have I been more pleased with our interest based learning than I have been when using homeschool notebook pages from the Lifetime Membership over at
I had heard and looked into before but always dismissed it as something that wouldn't work for us.  It looked too confusing and/or time consuming.  None of which is true!! has been the most used and most requested product these past 6 weeks!  As in - all three of my kids are asking for pages to write in! (They are ages 3, 6 and 9).
When you log-in to the lifetime membership all fears of being overwhelmed or confused are eliminated as there is ample opportunity to familiarize yourself with notebooking.  There's an EasyStart Guide, Tutorials, Tips & Tools, Photo examples and videos, all of which are so very helpful!
Basically, any topic you can think of is offered here.  There are beginner pages, with Alphabet copywork letter themes.  There are Bible and Character pages, pages on Fine Arts, Geography, History, Holidays, Language Arts, and pages to notebook your nature studies!  If you can find a particular fit for your needs, there are blank pages offered.
So how does this all work?
Simple.  Choose a topic.  The first topic I chose was for my 3 year old, because he needed something to do to occupy his time while I worked with big brother.  I clicked on A-Z.  Then I got crazy excited.  Transportation!  My little guy is all about anything with wheels.

Each section, or topic, has a catalog that you can download along with the notebook pages.  That catalog is then used to as an easy glance sort of deal, to quickly see what all is offered in that particular group.  Your child also uses the catalog to pick which layout s/he would like for the topic.
I download the catalog and then the whole Transportation Notebooking Pages package, as I knew we'd be using this often.  (often was an understatement). 
I chose the first layout each time the little guy wanted a new page, since he's just only 3.  Then, he painted his little heart out, even with a sad little broken elbow.
He asked for these pages almost daily.  So he painted, he colored, and we even worked collaboratively one day, making a work of art with a fire truck paper.  I drew little stick figure West Family and he added color, "popsicles", and a mountain.
How we used this with our 6 year old
Next we have the sweet little flower picking 6 year old.   Every day she was picking flowers from our back yard so I printed off some pages for her to document her finds. 
These pages are found under "Science/Nature" - which is a large section!  You'll need to scroll down past Anatomy, then several choices of animal groups, Astronomy, and more, before you find "Wildflower, Weeds, & Garden Flowers".  There are 413 pages to this section alone!  You have the choice to download individual flower pages or the whole lot.  (I chose the whole lot).  Way at the bottom of the PDF I chose a notebook page to print out.
I wrote "Backyard Flowers" on the blank title line.  She colored her flowers and wrote the names of the flower (or weed) in the space provided. also assisted us in learning with her library books. She wanted to read about cats (wild and house) and I easily found her some pages to document want she wanted to remember. 
Under Science/Nature > Animals > Mammals we downloaded the catalog so she could choose her topic and layout, and then we downloaded the whole mammal zip offered.
Also, with the Kinder girl, we did a couple pages from the Nature Study.  In this 399 page PDF you will not only find many topics and several layouts of said topic, but you'll also find tips for using notebooking in your nature studies!  This section is where I found the idea to just print out a cute little framed picture for my daughter to draw her findings.

How we used this with our 9 year old
My 9 year old has had a passion for primates for about a year now.  When I told him about our Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership he practically begged me for a page for Orangutans.  Not only did he complete a page, writing down all information he could remember, but he also scanned our printed copy of the Mammal:  Table of Contents for any other primates.  He completed them all in one day.
I feel it is very important to point right now that I considered at one time in our life to rename our son, "The Boy Who Will Not Write".  And here he is willingly writing things down for hours.  Why?  Because he is writing about his passion!
On the topic of his passions, he also has been obsessed with dinosaurs for at least the last 4 years.  After he satisfied his need to journal about primates, he moved on to the dinosaur section of  (also found under the Science/Nature section - we're a bit into science over here).
Currently, as I type this he's moved onto notebooking all he's been learning with his bible study, using the Bible/Character section. 
How did work as a group activity?
We were reading Firefly Hollow as a read aloud and I wanted the kids to journal any bits that they were learning as we moved along.  We opened up the Nature Study document again to access the section on Insects.  The two top pages, shown below, are the 9 year olds and the bottom two are from my 6 year old.
I think it goes without saying that we not only used our Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership, but that we also have thoroughly enjoyed notebooking, using a page (or 20) near to every day!
My eldest is so proud of his quickly growing collection of homeschool notebook pages.
Do I think the Lifetime Membership is worth it?  Absolutely!  I don't know how we got by before without it!
We are most definitely going to continue to use Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership.  As I was planning for our next school year I decided we'd learn about South America.  I thought to myself how I was going to easily find a good quality map that they could label.  The answer? - Geography section!
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
To see how others have used in their homeschool, click the banner below:
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

Independent Bible Study {a TOS review}

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
At 9 years old my eldest still requires a lot of my individual attention.  Working independently is something I have been striving for with my him for several months now.  We have not found any subject or program he can fully work on by himself, especially with Bible study, until we were introduced to Veritas Press.  
Veritas Press now offers a unique  one-year family subscription for their  This Bible Curriculum is all online, so can be accessed with your computer or anywhere you are with an iPad or tablet, that has access to wifi!
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
With this interactive online Bible Curriculum you are able to add as many students, from your immediate family, as you need to.  When adding students, you are able to personalize each with a cute little avatar.  For ourselves I added 3 students - my son (9), my daughter (6) and myself. 
So far 3 courses are offered.  There is Genesis to Joshua, The Gospels, and Judges to Kings.  Each course has 128 lessons!  Two additional courses have been announced, and are coming soon:  Chronicles to Malachi and Acts to Revelation.

There is a lot to love with Veritas Bible:
  • The video dramas with the two siblings are engaging and humorous
  • The maps are animated, fun to look at, and change as you advance.   
  • Reviews are interactive
  • There are several memory tools such as songs and systematic reviewing
  • Games
  • Interactive quizzes In Our Home

I had my daughter (age 6) work on first.  She enjoyed the videos and the songs, however, we quickly ruled out this program for her right now as the quizzes were much to difficult for her.  In order to advance on the map the student must pass the tests (which is a good thing!).  I would like to revisit this program with her when she's a bit older.

We carried on with exploring the Bible Curriculum with just my eldest (age 9), who absolutely loves the lessons.  He has worked independently, in the first course, from Genesis up to The Flood.

From the map a lesson window is opened.  All videos lessons, readings, quizzes and games are completed in this window.

There were couple things that really stood out to me, while my son happily worked away at Bible lessons.  One is that there is a catchy song, repeated throughout the Genesis to Joshua course, to learn the order of events.  After several weeks of this song being heard in our house my little 3 year old has started to chime in and sing along, especially during the chorus.  Another moment stood out, again with the song, when my 9 year old came to a question in the lesson about where a certain event can be found in the bible (what's the scripture reference?).  He began to sing the song of events and then announced to me, "I know the reference because of the song!  {singing} Genesis to Joshua: number 1 is Creation . . . Cain and Abel down in Genesis 4!"

What my 9 yr old has to say: 
"Well.  I like the games.  I like how they make the videos - they dress up pretty good!  I like how Asher is on time and his sister is late and he hides behind the rock and makes a silly scared faced.  It was funny.
I like the videos because they talk about the bible before sending you into a review.  And test days are sometimes easy because it is a bunch of reviews.  At the end of every lesson you get a flag but at the end of the test you get a one flagged banner that gets a 1 or 3 star.  3 if you get 100%! and I almost always get 3!
Why I think Veritas Bible worked for my son:
  • He loves drama and role play (just like the videos are presented) 
  • He loves humor (the videos are sometimes funny)
  • He is a visual learner
  • He loves when he is allowed to work on the computer
  • He thrives on play based learning (there are several games throughout the courses)
  • He hates worksheets and "book work" (Veritas Bible is online based, eliminating need for books - except for his own Bible).
To read additional reviews of one-year family subscription or to read about Veritas Press' Self-Paced Bible, click the banner below:
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Field Trip Friday: Shelter Building

Recently we went to our a park in our city for a hands on demonstration from a local artist on how build a shelter from debris.

Everyone worked together, to sort the debris then begin to shape and build.
Layer by layer the kids worked hard.
A complete shelter built by kids!
I don't know about the other kids, but mine are most excited to camp this year to put their new skill to test.  (as a play shelter, obviously.)
The artist had many other examples peppered across the island of the park. 

The Old Orchard Bully

Recently I was going through my bookshelves and found a forgotten gem.  So forgotten, in fact, that I almost (re)bought this book. 

We've taken to opening this book in the afternoon, picking a child's favorite bird, or we will bird watch for a few moments, then read from The Burgess Bird Book for Children.  It's such a gentle way to approach nature science.  The kids aren't even realizing we are "doing" science!

We've had a pair of sparrows nesting in our bird house this spring.  They are quite loud.  This afternoon was no different.  Since it was near to impossible to ignore the duo I turned on my Merlin Bird ID app (love this app!!) and tried to narrow down exactly what sparrow was screaming at us daily.  With the help of the app's bird song we ID'd the bird as a House Sparrow.

House Sparrow is mentioned in Chapter 2 of Burgess' Bird book.  We sat out on the back porch and read The Old Orchard Bully while Mr. Bully screamed at us from the lilac tree.

His back was more or less of an ashy color with black and chestnut stripes.  His wings were brown with a white bar on each.  His throat and breast were black, and below that he was of a dirty white.  The sides of his throat were white and the back of his neck chestnut. - excerpt from page 11 of The Burgess Bird Book for Children

I love this story form way of learning with children!

Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide {a TOS review}

 When deciding to review for Progeny Press, we had to really take our time in deciding as there are just so many good options for a faith-based book study.  In our grade range (K-3) there was The Drinking Gourd E-Guide or The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide.
Of course, if you have children outside of the K-3 grade range there are plenty of other great options, such as Indian in the Cupboard E-Guide or maybe your student would prefer the humorous option with Mr. Popper's Penguins!   Point being, there are many great options at Progeny Press!
At Progeny Press you can find classic literature Study Guides in all grades, from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.  These guides come in 3 convenient options:
  • a printed workbook
  • a CD
  • an E-Guide
Progeny Press also provides, in their online store, audio books and printed books, of which their study guides are based off of. 
Progeny Press provides a helpful video to help us learn more about they company, and their goals/missions.

The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide
We received The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide.  This 47 page study guide comes as a PDF and is recommended for grades 2-4.  (The chapter  book is sold separately).
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
The Minstrel in the Tower, by Gloria Skurzynski, is an eight chapter book, set in France in the year 1195.  It is about two siblings, Roger and Alice that live alone with their ill mother.  The siblings are sent on a quest, by their mother, to set out and find their uncle and are given a lute that he will know them by.  Their journey finds them captured and locked in a tower.  Alice, a good climber, escapes out the tower window and must continue alone to find her uncle and bring him back.
The E-Guide begins with:
  • Note to the teacher - 'how to use guide" and note about internet references
  • Synopsis
  • Background Information - info about the time period
  • About the Author
  • Before-you-read Activities - five creative ideas to get you started
Within The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide your student will:
  • learn vocabulary, with the use of a dictionary
  • be asked questions that will strengthen their understanding of the literature
  • apply a bible verse to the themes and topics of the literature as well as character traits
  • learn the use of figurative language, such as a simile
  • better understand literary techniques 
  • use a thesaurus to learn synonyms
  • learn about descriptive words

After the eight chapter study there are After-You-Read Activities.  Here you can pick and choose from:
  • Writing Projects
  • Oral Report
  • Cooking Center
  • Art Center
  • Craft Center
The E-Guide ends with a hefty list of Additional Resources and then the Answer Key.

How we used this E-Guide

I had my 3rd grader (age 9) complete the guide, doing a section 2 to 3 times a week.  We did read the chapter book in it's entirety to start; but, we'd re-read each chapter, together, each time we started a new chapter guide.

An example of 1 week for us would be something like this:

      Day 1:  Read the next chapter together.  Print and answer the vocabulary questions.
      Day 2:  Answer the analysis questions together.  (my guy hates writing so we'd do this orally)
      Day 3:  Dig Deeper - examine the story when applied to Christian faith.

With Day 3 of our schedule I'd have my student also write out a verse as a form of extra copy work, outside the E-Guide.

I enjoy using Progeny Press E-Guides with my kids because it gets them using a dictionary, and turning to their bible to examine further, qualities and characters mentioned in the literature.  I like that they learn literary terminology and are really thinking about what they read in the book, and seeing how that might apply to real life.


If Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide doesn't suit you consider reading about our previous experience with Progeny Press'  interactive Stone Fox E-Guide.  Also, other reviewers on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have reviewed:

The Drinking Gourd E-Guide (gr K-3)
Mr. Popper's Penguins E-Guide (gr 4-6)
The Sword in the Tree E-Guide (gr 4-6)
Give Me Liberty E-Guide (gr 6-8)
Indian in the Cupboard E-Guide (gr 6-8)
The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide (gr 9-12)
Great Expectations E-Guide (gr 9-12)

You'll find them by clicking the banner below:
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

Forbrain {a TOS review}

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

We've been working lately with an award winning high tech device from Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd.  Forbrain uses bone conduction, rather than air waves, creating an unique auditory vocal feedback loop.  This trains your brain to be more attentive.  It improves your auditory processing, attention, retention, and improves your speech and confidence.

Forbrain has the unique bone conduction headset, which includes a dynamic filter and microphone.  You're probably wondering what is significant about bone conduction, or maybe even what that means.  Think of when you plug your ears, how your voice sounds different.  You're blocking out the air waves and hearing the vibrations - the bone conduction. 

The Forbrain headphone is worn in front of your ear opening, allowing you to still hear background noise, but enhancing your own voice using vibrations.  This audio vocal loop helps cut down on distractions that would otherwise prevent you from listening well.

Brain stimulation happens by simply reading aloud, or speaking, while wearing the Forbrain headset for as little as 20 minutes a day.  When wearing the headset individual sounds are more easily heard and discriminated - and as such, the headphone has several purposes:
  • Improve Attention - auditory processing and/or sensory integration
  • Improve Speech
  • Improve Short-term Memory
  • Improve Concentration
  • Improve Pronunciation
  • Improve Reading and Writing
Forbrain can be used by anyone wishing to improve his/her speech and communication skills, except those under age 3, those with Parkinson's, those with epilepsy (unless under the advisement and supervision of a specialist), those who wear a cochlear implant, or those who have a hearing loss of 80%.

How we used Forbrain:

There are 5 of us in our household and all five of us wore the headset daily, for 6 weeks.

My eldest is 9.  He has always had auditory processing issues.  His ears are very sensitive, and because of this he is very distractible.  I was concerned that, since he is very sensitive, the headset would bother him.  It is advised to not adjust the volume unless you have sensitivity issues (whether high or low sensitivities) so I was prepared to adjust it for him.  However, he wore the headset with no complaints and needed no adjustments.  As for his speech, he doesn't really have any issues that require intervention of a therapist.  He does mutter, forgetting to enunciate his words.

I had the eldest wear Forbrain to read aloud his schoolwork, whether it was a chapter book or a science lesson.  He enjoyed wearing it and found that he could concentrate better.  In his own words, he stated to me that he felt he could also speak more clear and he enjoyed the sound - which is amazing to me for a kid that used to hide under the playground slide and scream in terror at the auditory input. 

I also had our 5 year old wear Forbrain.  She has a lisp, and she also lacks confidence in reading.  She can read at least at a 4th grade level, but insists she doesn't read well.  When she speaks it is hard to understand her as she speaks in near whispers.

The very first time I had her wear the Forbrain headset I heard a remarkable improvement in her confidence and with her speech - and this is with our first use!  She spoke clear, had a wonderful volume, and she was even sort of rapping her story! 

We continued with her wearing it to read aloud her story books, and she was easily able to read with it for 15-20 minutes and not get bored or disenchanted with reading.

In addition to the 9 and 5 year old, we also had the 3 year old wear Forbrain.  He has a hard time hearing a word and then saying it correctly.  For example we'll say "limousine" and he'll say "masodine."  With him I'd sit him in my lap and say a word and he'd repeat it back to me.  Over the course of using Forbrain he's since learned to better pronounce his words - including limousine.  With him, since he's three we would work only maybe 10 minutes a day.

This is definitely something I want to revisit again with you, my readers.  My children don't have any significant speech delays.  While the oldest does have auditory issues, I am so curious on seeing how this can benefit some friends of ours that have apraxia. 

I do think Forbrain is worth the cost if you have significant speech delays or speech impediments.  It's also quite useful to use as a family - I love that everyone can use it, not just the one as a disadvantage.  For myself, I liked to wear Forbrain as I read to my children. 

To see other reviews on how families used Forbrain and how it blessed them, click the banner below: 

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Spring Love part 2

Earlier I shared (just because I love it - I'm not affiliated) my love of taking photos with my iPhone lately, more so than with my DSLR. 

Don't get me wrong, I still love my "real" camera.  But iPhone is so convenient!  It's always with me. 

And the little extras won't cost a years worth of groceries.  cough::nikonlens::cough

With my awesome photojo macro lens I took this:

I mean.  How awesome is this!?  And as a bonus, I don't make a spectacle of myself with the DSLR in the backyard.  .... not that I wouldn't.  But it's nice to appear normal at least some of the time.

I also LOVE my iphone photography for vacations.  Again, with the not making a spectacle of myself at the beach, getting photos of the sand, rocks, and water.  The detail pictures.

Okay.  Who am I kidding.  I still got odd looks and giggles when bystanders thought I'd drown my poor phone.

It's also so nice to edit the horizon (straighten) right then as opposed to waiting until I can find a moment to edit on the computer.

What do you prefer as a means to document you life?

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