Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Oregon Trail from a Horse's Perspective {An Appaloosy Books / Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Love horses? Historical fiction? Supporting small publishing houses and independent authors?

Take a look at the latest Horses in History book Blue Skies West from Appaloosy Books

Several years ago, my children and I had the pleasure of coming to know author Mattie Richardson's Appaloosy Books and appreciated how they offer a window into history through the perspective of horses

So, when we were offered a chance to review the latest book in the series - Blue Skies West, we took it.

What Awaits in Blue Skies West?

Blue Skies West is the fifth book in an exciting series that can help kids ages 8-12 (plus younger or older siblings and adults, too!) to learn more about important stories in U.S. History from - how fun! - a horse's point of view.

More than just a story, the book contains...

... a map for perspective followed by 12 chapters and an epilogue that tell a wholesome, interesting, tale which shares the true strife, tragedy, and conflicts of history in a sensitive way...

... a "Blast From the Past" which gives more historical details...

... a Bibliography and About the Author page

... and Author's Note/Historical Disclaimer which makes me respect and appreciate Mattie Richardson even more!

Throughout this softcover historical fiction novel, you follow 
the horse Blue and his rider Charlie as they travel the 2,000 mile long Oregon Trail from their longtime home in the Iowa farmlands to their new home. As you would expect, adventure awaits and danger abounds - including water crossings, stampedes, and even wagon train robbers!

What My 12-Year-Old Thinks about Blue Skies West

My 12-year-old has been enjoying Blue Skies West. Here is what he had to say about it:

Why did you want to get this book?

We read the other books in the series and they were fun.

Before reading this book, did you know much about the Oregon Trail and were you interested in it?

I knew about the Oregon Trail. I had played the game before and studied it a little, but I did not know too much.

Did you learn anything about it through this book?

Yes. I got a little feel for the hardship and understood what the journey might have been like.

Can you tell me anything about the book and your thoughts on it?

I'd say it is a pretty good book. It starts out at a farm and then escalates as they go to the Trail. On the trail the horse's rider faces many learning experiences. It is nice to picture in my mind, is easy to follow along with, and is entertaining and exciting. 

One of my favorite scenes was when the boy broke his arm by sneaking out and getting caught in the middle of a buffalo herd. That scene had exciting adventure mixed with life lessons.

I would recommend it to people who like exciting history, people wanting to learn about the Oregon Trail, and people who like horses.

Did you like this book as much as the other ones in the series?

Yes. They are fun, short books, and I like that they are from the horse's perspective.

My Thoughts about Blue Skies West

I have not yet had the time and focus to read the book myself, but I have listened to my son's oral narrations of it and have also read him a chapter or two at bedtime or when he was sick and asked me to read to him instead of him reading on his own.

In doing so, I have come to see that Blue Skies West, like the other books in Horses in History, tells a vivid tale with accurate historical details.

Told from the horse Blue's perspective while still offering character development of other characters, the book draws you in with its unique point-of-view. 

I believe that horse lovers, history lovers, and those who like to read stories that do not shy away from the harder parts of history but also treat them with sensitivity might like this story as a family read aloud, for children's independent reading, as a history supplement, or as part of interest-based or unit-based learning.

Learn More

The Horses in History series are told from a secular - not expressly Christian or Catholic point of view, and as such do not aim to teach any religious/moral lesson. They also, however, do not contain any morally objectionable content. Thus, the books are appropriate for all audiences and could be added to any public school curriculum or library.

Because this book is set in a historical period, does represent events and language in ways that might raise eyebrows to particularly sensitive readers (such as death, the use of the word "Indian", etc.), but it does without any graphic details and in an age-appropriate way.

I commend Mattie Richardson on writing well-researched wholesome, historical reads that can cross over between homeschool, private school, and public school audiences.

Appaloosy Books

Find Appaloosy Books on social media - FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

horse fiction books

Over 25 Homeschool Review Crew families read Blue Skies West. Click through to find links to each family's thoughts in social media, blog, and video reviews

Friday, October 14, 2022

Learn Pre-Algebra with Flexibility and Independence {A TabletClass Math / Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

If you are looking for a middle school or high school math program that is complete, understandable, flexible, and able to be used online and on paper online, solo or with parent input, then TabletClass Math could be for you.

My 12-year old has been trying out the Pre-Algebra and so far, I've been pleased with the course and would therefore recommend it, or TabletClass Math other homeschool math courses as a possible solution for you and yours. 

Other courses offered are:
Each course is designed to provide a complete math curriculum that can be self-paced by students with 24-hour online access to a full host of pre-recorded video lessons and printable practice problems and tests/keys and notes

Clear Math Teaching

Instruction is offered by Mr. John Zimmerman, a credentialed and proven master teacher who has helped countless students reach their goals - from finally "getting" math to getting into top colleges. His style is engaging as he aims to make math enjoyable and understandable while making complex concepts clear.

Mr. Zimmerman also aims to offer homeschool students the full teaching they would receive in a classroom situation, which means he provides full down-to-earth video lessons which introduce and teach concepts and skills and also
 bring students step-by-step through solutions to all practice problems

You can get a flavor for Mr. Zimmerman's style on his YouTube channel.

Ease of Use

Each TabletClass Math is self contained and easy for students to use on their own with any online device, a printer, paper, a pencil, and, if desired, a calculator. No textbooks or other supplies are needed.

With a well-organized online portal hosted on the teachable.com website, students can use TabletClass Math independently and control the pace of instruction in a way that suits their learning style - pausing videos, replaying them, skipping ones about concepts they "get", moving quickly through lessons or taking thing slow.

The online portal is set up with consecutive links almost like chapters in a text book, so basically, you can
 self-pace through the online teaching then put pencil to paper by completing printable practice problems, exercises, and tests. Doing so will help you master chapter core math skills and concepts.

Of course, you can also use TabletClass Math as a ready reference or tutorial system logging in any time you get stuck on a particular concept and using the easy to use navigation to find a lesson which targets just what you need more help with.

Or, like my son and I, you can use TabletClass Math as both and independent and parent-supported math program - working independently when life requires it and having some Mom (or Dad)-taught lessons using the printable worksheets when time allows and you ask for such things. 

Parent Support

TabletClass Math is set up for students to do on their own, Mr Zimmerman did not forget parents. 

As a parent, you can gain access to a Parent/Admin Portal that includes:

  • Chapter Tests / Keys
  • Chapter Tests Summary Worksheet
  • a Course Guidebook
  • Final Exam Directions
  • a Final Exam
  • a Final Exam Key
  • a Course Grade Calculation Worksheet
  • a printable Course Certificate

No worries if you don't "get" math or are rusty, all solutions are there!

Plus, you can easily see how students are doing by paging through their printable worksheets or taking a peak at periodic quizzes.

Comprehensive Math Teaching

Some online math programs seem more supplementary than complete. Not TabletClass Math
Each TabletClass Math course is designed to provide much more than a brief overview of concepts.

Each topic is taught 
in-depth, to include lesson videos, practice problem examples and step-by-step video solutions, a wide range of printable problems, etc.

Lesson videos, on average, are more than 15 minutes long in order to maximize complete explanations and mastery.

Basic and advanced skills, including word problems, are covered and each chapter includes
a comprehensive, printable summary of notes for each concept covered​.

There are also end-of-chapter 
quizzeswith instant feedback so you can see how you are doing.

Designed for student practice and mastery of core academic skills, TabletClass Math offers more than many other online math courses I have seen.

My Son's Thoughts|

My 12-year-old said:

At first, I hated it, because I did not want to start Pre-Algebra, but once I watched the videos I realized it was not that bad. The videos teach well. They have clear explanations and there are also videos to walk you through the problems.

I like that there are printable worksheets. I like being able to write on paper. Also, the worksheets make it so that I can learn 1:1 with Mom when I don't want to watch the videos. The program gives me options to decide if I want to be online or off and to be able to decide if I want to get ahead. 

I would recommend it and will continue it, which will make my mom surprised because at first I was adamant I would not do Pre-Algebra.
As Mom, I am surprised. My 12-year-old was not thrilled when I suddenly jumped him to Pre-Algebra, but he's realized that with this program, he can do it. Hoorah!

My Final Thoughts

So, far, I have been pleased with the flexibility and comprehensive teaching of TabletClass Math.

I particularly appreciate that my son can use the 
TabletClass Math system independently and control the pace of instruction in a way that suits his personal learning style and our crazy schedules. Because the system is set up so that students use both technology (any online device) and traditional materials (pencil and paper!) to learn, my son can use it at home and at co-op during study hall when he has internet connection, or or alongside me or his own on paper when we have pre-printed included worksheets and are somewhere without internet connection or when he just wants some Mom-time and teaching.

TabletClass Math approach seems excellent for retention and engagement as well as flexibility and I encourage you to look into it.

Learn More

online math

About 20 Homeschool Review Crew families tried out a course or more TabletClass Math. Click through to find links to video, social media, and blog reviews.

Find TabletClass Math on social media: FacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Enjoy with the Whole Family at King Richard's Fair

Disclosure: In exchange for this honest review of a favorite local escape, our family received complimentary tickets. What fun we had visiting King Richard's Faire in this 41st anniversary season!

Hear ye, hear ye! King Richard's Faire-THE New England Renaissance Faire - is in the middle of its 41st season and you still have time to get there. It runs weekends and Monday holidays through October 23rd in the enchanted woods of Carver, Mass.

Escape YOUR reality at King Richard’s Faire, New England’s largest and longest-running Renaissance festival! 

Our family was able to escape our reality for a day last month by joining King Richard XI, his lovely bride Queen Anne, and all the rest of the folks in the realm of Carvershire - and what a great day we had!

This year, my growing kiddoes were most into the awesome performing artists who 
entertained at three jousts and on eight stages and the filling food and drynk. Thus, we only quickly browsed the handcrafted artisan wares - with their handspun pottery, jewelry, period clothing, leather, armor, and moccasins, forged weaponry, scented oils, instruments, and more - and did not spend much time in the Gaming Glen where other families were enjoying exciting human- and mechinaically-powered rides and skilled games.

Rather, my husband, children, and I spent the majority of our day at the Faire moving from stage to field to stage to enjoy a wide array of talent - loving the energy, entertainment, and the storyline of the jousts.

Among the performers that entertained us were The Magical Poodles and their cute little tricks...

...the talented knights in The Challenge of Champions...

...the long time favorite Jacques Ze Whipper doing some new tricks..

...a favorite returning from last year, the Unicycling Unicorn...

... the strong and cheerful Accidental Acrobats  ...

... the knights at The King's Tournament with their growing drama...

...and trials..

...Sir Danny Drake the juggler...

...the high flying mesmerizing Unspun Tails...

... the time-tested circus arts talent of El Zappo...

... and knights again who totally engaged us with their Joust to the Death!

Please Your Palate

Throughout the day, of course, we paused for eats, enjoying among other things a Veggie Peasant Pattie Basket...

... a Squire Dog Basket...

...and some Baker’s Mac n’ Cheese...

These options, of course, were at regular faire-type prices, but were filling enough to sustain us... and tasty, too! 

It was truly a fabulously fun family day from the opening to closing of the Faire!

Throughout our visit to the Carvershire, my heart was full as I watched our kids move from rapt attention to hearty laughter to energetic cheering. It's been so much fun to witness them grow up at the Faire year after year, each season drawn to different aspects of the Faire - from the entertainment, to artisans, to games, to food, to the fun of fantasy and historically-inspired acts.

It is also a delight to revisit perennial favorite performers and to simply spend time together as a whole family enjoying time outside.

With tweens, teens, and adults it is not always easy for our family to find venues that engage us all, but King Richard's Faire most certainly does!

My youngest, 12, said:
 King Richard's Faire is a fun, entertaining, exhilarating experience. It's good for every age group and has many fun shows and acts. My favorite thing this year was Jacques Ze Whipper. I love his musical whips. You have to go see his show. It is amazing!

My 15-year-old offered her thoughts about two no-miss performers!

My two favorite shows this year were Jacques Ze Whipper - who added new things to his acts - and El Zappo - who did an entertaining optical illusion and circus tricks. It is fun to watch the shows.

My eldest, 16, who still likes to dress in armor for the Faire, said:

 I enjoyed Jacques Ze Whipper a lot as always. The jousts were fun to watch. I really enjoy Dimitri specifically - the actor is talented and I enjoy the way he plays the charming villain character. I love going every year and would encourage others to go!

My husband commented:

My kids enjoy the Faire and I enjoy watching them giggle at some of the acts. The jousting is always fun and entertaining. Our family has fun routing for Dimitri. Jacques Ze Whipper is a fan favorite. The longevity and tradition of the Faire make it a beloved part of the community!

We look forward to the Faire every year and encourage you to visit this season!

Learn More

The realm of 
King Richard's Faire can be found at 235 Main Street (Rt. 58) in Carver, MA.

Visit kingrichardsfaire.NET for schedules, ticket sales, special celebration group sales, and much more. 

Get social on 
Instagram/Twitter: @KRFaire #KRFaire and the Book of Faces: Facebook

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Pray for Us as We Join the Pilgrimage of the Restoration

Later this week part of my family will be joining a brigade from our parish, students from Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, and scores of other pilgrims in the Pilgrimage of the Restoration, a traditional walking pilgrimage modeled after the annual Pentecost Pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Chartres, France which will take a 60+ mile route from the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament at Lake George Village, NY to the Shrine of Our Lady’s Martyrs of New France at Auriesville, NY .

The pilgrimage is now in its 27th year, and, this year, will have a theme of
Restoring True Devotion to Mary, through Total Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort.  

As it has always each year, the pilgrimage will be
 "an exercise of penance and prayer, of contradiction and restoration, having both a personal and social character" with an intention of "restoration of the Catholic family, civil society and the specifically Roman spiritual and liturgical tradition".

Since this will be the first walking pilgrimage that anyone in our family has ever been on, we are a bit nervous about personal logistics, how to pack, and, to be honest, actually being able to complete the pilgrimage. Yet, we are also excited for this opportunity, impressed with the support the pilgrimage organizers provide on their website and blog, and confident that organizers, volunteers, and fellow pilgrims will work together to make this year's pilgrimage a successful one. 

If you would like to join us by jumping on as a last-minute pilgrim, you can register as a walk-on for the whole pilgrimage at the starting point or register as a Sunday-only pilgrim for the final day.

We would also appreciate any and all friends to participate from home and/or to join is in praying this prayer daily:

Pilgrim’s Prayer Pilgrimage for Restoration 2022
To be recited, at the request of Pilgrimage Chaplains, each day by every pilgrim: for the intentions of all pilgrims, for sinners everywhere, for the grace to make pilgrimage worthily together, and for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Francis & for all our spiritual Fathers & Mothers in Christ. 
My Lord and my God, take from me whatever keeps me from Thee. My Lord and my God, grant me whatever brings me to Thee. My Lord and my God, take my self, to live wholly in Thee.
~St. Nicholas of Flüe, 1447-1487

Thank you for for praying in union with us as we make our pilgrimage of penance, prayer, and singing to God for restoration.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Get a Homeschool Science Membership for the Whole Family {A Greg Landry's Homeschool Science/Homeschool Review Crew Review}

 Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

What happens when a former college professor and veteran homeschool dad spends about two decades teaching thousands of homeschooled students and hundreds of college students in the U.S. and worldwide Science? Whole families get to reap the benefits of Grade 1-12 Science resources with practical, self-paced courses as a part of Greg Landry's Homeschool Science Membership from Greg Landry's Homeschool Science.

Our family was introduced to Greg Landry's in 2021 when my son opted to review a half-semester Biochemistry and Microbiology class. Having met with success with that course, but then veered away from Science studies while concentrating on other things, my son has now returned to Greg Landry's Homeschool Science as he works to complete his high school Science credits.

When I asked him to write out his thoughts for this review, he shared the following.
What Is this Product?

A Greg Landry's Homeschool Science Membership includes access to courses for Grades 1-12, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy and Physiology, and online labs. Each high school level course contains pre-recorded video lessons and a pdf workbook. The workbooks have worksheets, note taking, and diagrams

Why Did I Choose this Product?

I paused my Science studies for a while and now want to finish all of my Science credits in one year. So, I chose Greg Landry's Science, because it has both sciences I need in one place which allows me to get used to the program and then use it through both programs instead of jumping to different ones as I usually do.

When I took Greg Landry's Science before, I found that lessons were easy to complete and more importantly to me, not time consuming. Unlike with other programs I have used, I can speed up and slow down the videos, which allows me to take things at my own pace.

This is a feature I like about these courses.

How Do Lessons Flow?

Let me take you through the process of a lesson. First you log onto your Canvas account, open the course you want, open the next video lesson in it, and grab some paper or the special note taking sheets Greg Landry provides if you have opted to print them out. Then, while watching the video, you take notes. After this you complete the worksheets and can also do corresponding labs from the online labs access.

Would I Recommend this Product?

I have recently realized that I prefer in-person lessons over online ones for subjects such as Science, so while Greg Landry Science is not my absolute favorite style of program, I still find it reliable and easy to use. It gets the job done, and, for this reason, I would recommend it to any high school age homeschool student and their parents who don’t have access or time for in person learning

Learn More

Greg Landry Homeschool Science

Greg Landry's Homeschool Science Membership offers you and your family access to over $4500 (if purchased separately) of Science and Virtual Labs for grades 1-12 plus things for Mom and Dad. For students in grades six or above, the courses can typically be self-paced with little parent involvement.

My approach to using the high school courses with my son is to let him watch videos, take notes, use the pdfs, etc. as he wishes to and, then, to check up on him by browsing his notes binder and using the optional downloadable True or False tests and require the online labs as well.

I am happy to be able to have my son finish his Science credits at his own now-quickened pace with Greg Landry's Science and recommend 
Greg Landry's Homeschool Science Membership as an effective resource that makes Science accessible for your family to pace through as needed. With monthly membership payments that decrease every six months, Greg Landry can become your Science "easy button".

Self Paced Online Homeschool Science Labs

Ten Homeschool Review Crew families have been blessed to review Greg Landry's Homeschool Science MembershipClick through to find reviews of each family's experience.

You might also like some of the free resources Greg Landry offers.


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