Archer and Zowie by Hans Bluedorn

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

My children have been reading dating website for anxiety, written by is date hook up any good for fun the last few weeks. This is a fanciful story of friendship written in the humorous style in which the author also wrote The Fallacy Detective (see the Crew link for more reviews on his works). This is a 234 page, paperback book with fun black and white illustrations and a lot of imagination! It held up through a lot of reading and toting around with a sturdy binding and easy to read pages. *If you have a child who is easily intimidated by many small words on the page, this is a great fit for them. The print is large and the pages are not overwhelming*

When their mischievousness leaves them with a failed experiemnt and a broken microwave, best friends Archer and Zowie discover their microwave can now do mysterious things- all of which send them on an adventure to space via the Hungry Caterpillar, with penguin aliens, the author, and much more.Archer and Zowie


My children who read this book are 10 and 8; it is science fiction for middle grade students … I’d say the tween age (8-12) will probably enjoy it most. My 8 year old son thought it was pretty funny; he read it in a matter of days. I think this can be attributed to the world building the boys get to experience, and the silliness of the writing style. My kids found parts of the book extra silly, something that stuck out to my 8 year old,

I liked how they explained about trash day. They thought on trash day (like our cleaning day when we throw out things while cleaning), that you just never see your trash again, they thought it was a giant beetle thing that took the trash away. But they find out  on another planet that trash day is once a year, and they shoot all the trash into outer space and it makes a ring around the planet; which is sad. They were good friends and helpful to one another.

On their imaginary adventure the boys learn more about the world around them, about their differences, and to be better friends because of it all. There is mild potty talk that my kids pointed out (I wondered what they would say) because we don’t use potty talk in our home, but I will say it is mostly harmless and not something that is a main theme in the book.

The life lessons learned are pretty profound even if children don’t realize it, and the boys really learn a lot about themselves and one another on their journey. It helps them to become better friends and understand life a little more. Isn’t that what childhood is about?- learning about yourself, learning to love others, and learning about the world around you, all while playing pretend in your backyard?

Archer and Zowie

This turned out to be a really cute read that my kids enjoyed, and I liked the lessons learned along the way.

Connect with Hans Blyedon


Click the banner below to read more reviews of Hans Bluedorn’s other works, as well as more about Archie and Zowie:
Hans Bluedorn Brings us Fallacy Detective and Archer & Zowie

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Emergent Reader Fun with one More Story {a review}

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

You may have seen me posting about One More Story over on Instagram. This has been so much fun for our family. One More Story is an app (or website, we tried both ways, but settled on the iPad app), where children and families can enjoy being read precious picture books. There are currently over 87 books to choose from, on five different book cases, with more to come!

One More Story-the best picture books read aloud any time, anywhere

After logging in, there are different ways for children to use the program. First click on the book cover to hear the title and author/illustrator. Then:

  1. Select the book you want to read, then click the green button below it
  2. Click Bendy, the bookworm site host, to have the book read to you, and pages turned automatically
  3. Click the green arrow in the bottom right corner to have the book read to you with the pages turned manually. You will continue touching/clicking the green arrow in that spot to turn each page.
  4. Click on the I can Read badge on the left to read a book on your own, with the sound track turned off. Any word can be clicked to hear it read by the narrator. Click the E in the lower left of the text post to hear the entire text read. Children can “echo” back the words.

There are also vocabulary words for each book (woo hoo!- I see a whole creative unit to be made using books from One More Story).

In both automatic and manual modes, the words are highlighted as the narrator reads, which is a proven way to help emergent readers understand text on a page- this is similar to following the words with your finger while reading to children. Pointing to/highlighting the words in a book teaches early readers that words have meaning on a page, and that we read left to right on a page. These aren’t just valuable, they are necessary pre-reading skills for children. Thank you One More Story, for adding this into your program! Emergent readers are actively learning, while reading a book, which is just what we want as teachers.

When a book is read in the I Can Read mode (number 4 above), any word the child clicks to have read to them, is added to the My Word List. This gives a young reader the opportunity to identify, review and master words that cannot easily be sight read for them. When a word is mastered, it can be dragged on My Learned Words. The My Word List badge is displayed on the last page of a book so that children can review the words they have learned from that book! This is such a great motivator, and an easy way to see how far your children have come. (Below I’ve added the word said to the My Word List.)

One More Story-the best picture books read aloud any time, anywhere

I love that the books have background noises/music to go along with them. The stories really are brought to life in this way; it makes them more real, and reminds me a lot of watching Reading Rainbow (throw back!). Maybe that is because it is original music by Sesame Street vet Robby Merkin. These stories are books we have on our shelves, or would like to- and that’s how I know they’re high quality. No twaddle here! Plus the narrators are just delightful-so much expression and easy to understand/listen to voices.

We found a new favorite book, Rattletrap Car, by Phyllis Root. This farm family is getting ready for a trip to the beach. But on their way, first a wheel falls off, then the floor falls out, the gas tank falls off, etc. Each time there is a catastrophe, the children have a creative way of fixing the car from their packed goods. (This is the perfect chance to make a family book club/activity and enjoy some chocolate marshmallow fudge delight. Mmmm) There are so many sound words (onomatopoeia) in this book, kids are going to love it! Mine definitely did, as did I.

One More Story-the best picture books read aloud any time, anywhere

One More Story-the best picture books read aloud any time, anywhere

We have really enjoyed using the One More Story subscription in our home. It is going to be perfect for a cross country car ride to the beach this year with young children. We are also going to enjoy adding it in as part of our summer homeschool.

Connect with One More Story

Be sure to check out the Review Crew blog to read more reviews!One More Story Online Library Reviews

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Family Devotional with Bob Goff- Homeschool Morning Time, Bedtime

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

Each night we read a chapter/section from a devotional, and often read a few stories from the Beginner’s Bible, to our children. The lst several weeks we have been using a new “devotional” and have really enjoyed it. Tommy Nelson Publishing so graciously sent us Everybody, Always for Kids , by Bob Goff and Lindsey Goff Viducich.
We love supporting theologically accurate books which teach about loving like Jesus and walking in such a way that reflects that. Everybody, Always for Kids  fits into our family perfectly. We have enjoyed reading a new story several times a week, before bed. My kids beg to read from this book, enjoy the lovely illustrations, and understand the lessons taught.

Everybody, Always for Kids by Bob Goff

The binding feels sturdy, and the thick, glossy pages should hold up well to many years of love. There is also a royal blue, satin ribbon bookmark along with an inscription page, making this a perfect gift.

Inside this hard bound book, parents will find 40 stories of personal experience, that help children see the world from others’ point of view, and help them understand how to love others well. Each story focuses on a different situation or feeling, and how to respond/go to action, from a biblical perspective. We especially enjoyed the Be Not Afraid-serving others, Trash Cans- about Pat who was an ordinary neighbor that did something small for his neighbors, and Land the Plan-about mistakes.

Sometimes our children have a friend in their life that is hard to love, be it at Sunday school, playdates, or co-op classes. Loving that friend doesn’t mean accepting what they do as okay, but it does mean we can love them anyway, just as God loves us no matter how sinful our choices may be. We can each relate to feeling outcast, different, or mistreated because of our differences.

Sometimes children see someone else who is being treated differently, struggling with their feelings, or sitting alone, and they may not know how to help them. But Everybody, Always for Kids , makes it easy to see the simplicity in kindness, and how that kindness shows God’s love to others.

I love that we don’t have to send our children into battle for them to be “salt and light.” God has made previsions for our children to impact the world through their words, behaviors, and kindness *right where they are.* He always meets us where we are. And it is true for our children as well- siblings, neighbors, at the grocery store, or with friends, they can love others.

This book sticks to topics that are developmentally appropriate for kids ages 6-10, so there won’t be anything too difficult to discuss with your children. My kids are 4-10 and have enjoyed reading it together (my 10 year old has also read it on her own for fun). I can tell they’ve been contemplating what we’ve read, when they come to me and want to talk about the story from the last day or 2 .  The stories are making an impact on how they see others.

Want some free bonuses? You can also head here, to sign up for some great bonuses from Tommy Nelson Publishing for Everybody, Always for Kids. This will include a fun, 5 lesson plan/activity pack for your family. It includes activities that reinforce the lessons in the first few stories. These would be a great addition to your morning time, or after nap hands on learning in your homeschool.

Connect with Tommy Nelson

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Everybody, Always for Kids!
Everybody Always for Kids Reviews


Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Vooks: Storybooks Brought to Life

Vooks is a visual book streaming service that brings books to like via animation. This program has been loved by each of my kids, even the older ones (because who doesn’t love being read to?!)

Vooks Curious George Vooks Curious George 2

Vooks brings storybook to life with fun, easy to understand voiceovers and beautiful animated illustrations. We found so many of our most beloved picture books while using Vooks, but also a treasure-trove of new books we’ve not read.

I have looked through the book selection, and have found only good, beautiful books that I wouldn’t mind my children reading without me. One of my favorite features, as a homeschool mom, is that the words are highlighted in bold letters as the book is read. There are also titles read aloud in Spanish, with Spanish text, which is great for those kids from a Spanish speaking home, or those learning the language.

Try Vooks free for 30 days! Go to VOOKS to sign up! 

We use Vooks for independent time, for the kids to hear some book read aloud with great interactive illustrations. We set it up on our larger monitor desktop, and they can each take turns selecting the books they want read aloud. We have food this perfect for cold and rainy days this spring. Also, I get to listen along while I fold laundry, which is fun for me. I love children’s picture books; and we get to interact as a family. The entire site is kid friendly and parent approved (and not just by me haha)

Vooks: Storybooks Brought to Life

Strengthen literacy, vocabulary, and promote independent learning for your kids using Vooks!

Along with all the beautiful picture books, parents and teachers can find free, printable lesson plans which include discussion topics, engaging activities, and more!

Ready to purchase your subscription? Click here!

Many thanks to Vooks for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.


#VooksMIN #MomentumInfluencerNetwork #vooks #betterscreentime #vookspartner

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Bible Journaling for Girls- Beautiful Word Journaling Bible for Girls

I written before about Bible journaling and how much I enjoy it. My oldest daughter is 10, and had just started asking if she was old enough for one. I told her yes she could buy now with her money, and we would look into finding her the perfect journaling Bible.

Just a week later we had the chance to review the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Pencil/Sticker Gift Set. Yall- it is perfect! She was already in her Bible reading often (daily), but now she is enjoying interacting with God’s Word through journaling and creativity.

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls #beautifulwordgiftset & #FlyBy

This Bible has been crafted especially for girls ages 8 to 12. The sticker sheet and colored pencil set give girls the tools to get started connecting with Jesus through Bible journaling.

Girls will get creative through coloring and journaling in the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible
for Girls. Included are pencils to color, blend and shade the detailed line art surrounding
hundreds of inspiring verses. This Bible gift set will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls #beautifulwordgiftset & #FlyBy

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls #beautifulwordgiftset & #FlyBy
Features include:
 Complete text of the accurate, readable and clear New International Version (NIV), which is easy for young girls to understand.
 Over 600 verses illustrated in ready-to-color line art
 Four colored pencils
 Six sheets of stickers designed for girls
 Thick white paper for writing and doodling
 Lined, wide margins for notes and reflections
 Satin ribbon marker
 Beautifully debossed and screen-printed cover
 Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface in a readable 8-point print size


Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls #beautifulwordgiftset & #FlyBy

My daughter was *so* excited for her own journaling Bible. She loves that there are so many illustrations to color, and areas to journal, draw, and use her washi tapes. She has been working in her Bible and really focusing on understanding the Word. I love that the font is large enough for her to read with ease, without fatiguing her eyes.

The set comes in a beautiful, sturdy box that makes it easy to keep it safe and tidy. Bible journaling is a wonderful way for girls to learn how to highlight and write notes in their Bibles.

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls #beautifulwordgiftset & #FlyBy

Click HERE for some beautiful coloring sheets to go along with the journaling Bible, or to enjoy while you wait for yours to arrive! Order from Christian book here

Our son is only 8, and not quite ready for a journaling Bible, but he is already asking for one so he can do it at night with his big sister.  I am really hoping Zondervan makes a Beautiful Word Coloring Bible just for boys, too! There aren’t any on the market; it is the perfect hands on way for boys to have quiet time with Jesus. Come on Zondervan, please! 😉



“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):

Many thanks to Telling Ministries LLC and HCCP for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Surviving Social Distancing as a Family

As parents, we are always looking for ways to have fun with our kids- and probably NOW more than ever.

If you’re on the hunt for inspiration for fun things to do at home, why not flex your creative talents and try these activities?

First, I would start with a very simple, basic routine. Type it, write it out, or get fancy and create something with a cool computer program, but make a simple routine that everyone in the family can see. No need for color coding or making things complicated. Just a general idea of how the day will flow. Be prepared to make lots of adjustments as you discover how your family works best!

We include: basic life skills/habits (brush hair, teeth, make bed, tidy bathroom), instrument practice, farm chores and house chores (some are daily, some are weekly), homeschool, reading time, quiet time, free time, outside play, etc.

Make sure you leave lots of play time, especially outdoors in your yard or social distancing at the park, walking the neighborhood, etc.


Baking is a brilliant way to introduce children to cooking; it develops counting and real life math skills can bring the family together for fun. Depending on the age of your kids, you can assign jobs, including measuring out ingredients, stirring the mixture and decorating the finished item, setting the table, slicing fruit, etc.

Baking can be therapeutic for children and adults, and there’s a tasty treat to enjoy later. There are hundreds of family-friendly recipes available online, and even cooking schools for kids online!  Before you decide on a recipe, check your pantry and make sure you’ve got everything you need. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have the right equipment before you start baking as well.

Surviving Social Distancing as a Family



Making a scrapbook is a fantastic way to remember these times together as a family, and to create something you can keep for many years to come. Scrapbooking is suitable for all ages, and adults can get involved too. You have control over the design and content of your book, so you can personalize your creation. Before you begin, stock up on supplies like papers and get some ideas from resources like this website.

You can use magazine cuttings, photographs, tickets, pictures, newspaper headlines and content you’ve downloaded online to fill your book, and accessories like buttons and ribbons to make it look fabulous. 

We also use a love the Kinship Family Journal by Fawn and Forest. It is perfect for the whole family to collaborate.

Junk modeling

If you’ve accumulated a stack of empty cereal boxes, Amazon boxes, drink cartons or used cans, now is the time to turn trash into treasure. Using your creativity, get together with your kids to transform cans and boxes into model villages, robots, animals, buses, trains or buildings. There are some brilliant resources online if you’re short on ideas, and you can get friends and family safely involved too. Set aside an afternoon and compare results with neighbors and friends via video chat or social media. 

Surviving Social Distancing as a Family


Making jewelry

Do your kids love playing dress up, or is a family member due to celebrate their birthday in the coming weeks? If so, why not join forces as a family and make some bespoke pieces of DIY jewelry? You can use colored and patterned beads, rolled magazines or newspaper cuttings or buttons to make necklaces and bracelets. If you have older children, you can also use thread to craft friendship bands or metals and gems to make more adult-friendly gifts. 

Play Games

For each gift giving holiday (birthdays, Christmas, VDay, etc), we have given each of our children a card or board game. I’ve never been so thankful for our cabinet full of games!

We have all learned to play chess, different varieties of UNO, and many other games as a family. My husband takes his lunch break on rainy days to come upstairs and play games with the kids, he and our son start their day with a game of Chess, and even the youngest (3yo) has been enjoying games.

Getting creative at home is an excellent way to have fun together, to encourage originality and to develop motor skills. Creative activities can also lift your mood and reduce stress. If you’re looking for fun things to do as a family, hopefully, these ideas have given you some inspiration.

Tailor the activity to suit your child’s age and interests, then share the results with family and friends online or via video calls. From making gifts and baking cakes, to creating junk robots and designing scrapbooks, you’re guaranteed hours of fun. 

When all else fails, READ GOOD BOOKS. =)


Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Horses in History with Mattie Richardson {a review}

Y’all know when there is a chance to review a book in our home, we jump on the chance. =) We have been reading the Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series from Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books. Formerly known as North Dakota’s Teen Author, Mattie has written a series of books your children and family will love!

Appaloosy Books by Mattie Richardson

Each book centers around the story of a horse (or horses) from history-of course as a mom and homeschooler, this greatly appeals to me! My history buff daughter, 9, also loved the historical aspect of the books, and how the stories were told from the horse’s perspective. Mattie has written books full of love, adventure, integrity, and strength. All characteristics we want for our children. I hold my book standards pretty high; we don’t need ugly words and harsh language to get a point across, and these books definitely held up to my standards.

The first portion of each book begins with a dedication, which sometimes offers some insight to the author’s inspiration for writing the book. Dusty’s Trail, told from the view point of a horse on the Pony Express, begins with an article about the Pony Express, first published in 1860. Next, the reader will find a section of Words and Terms You Should Know. This section is in each of the books, with a small variation. In Day and Night, Mattie has made Civil War-era Words and Terms Used in this Book section. Golden Sunrise offers a Spanish Words Used in this Book section. So each book has a great intro to the topic through a helpful guide in the beginning; my daughter often referred back to this while reading, as did I. Appaloosy gives us the Nez Perce Words and Their Meanings as a helpful glossary to better understand as we read.

Appaloosy Series

The books are nicely bound, with a colorful paperback cover. Day and Night comes in at the thickest with 148 pages, Appaloosy with 125 pages,  Golden Sunrise with 98 pages, and Dusty’s Trail at 66 pages (plus a few un-numbered informational pages). Some books have a few illustrations throughout, the text is appropriate for early readers (not too small), and the pages are a smooth, high quality, crisp white.

Appaloosy is about a horse who wants nothing more than to be wild and free, until he finds the love of a girl named Faith. But when he is stolen and escapes captivity, Storm must decide if he wants his freedom or to go back to Faith on her family’s farm. My 9 year old says:

Faith gives her locket necklace to take Storm home from the man who had him. She was only the 2nd person he let ride him, of all the people that had owned or ridden him. I like his decision and the way the book ended.

Golden Sunrise tells the story of Cheyenne and Jared- “Jared is a man who wants to marry Olivia; they’ve been courting for about a year. But then he has to go off to war to fight for Texas’s freedom. He rides Cheyenne throughout the war, and they are buddies. Cheyenne becomes friends with Davy Crockett, which was really funny. I won’t tell you the end, but it is sweet.”

Golden Sunrise

Day and Night was my daughter’s favorite of all the books. “This book is about 2 horses, Shiloh and Tucker, they take turns having a chapter, so it can be confusing if you don’t pay attention. Tucker is the older horse and Shiloh is the younger sibling horse. Shiloh is lighter in color and smaller; he is gentle and gets very attached to people he likes. Tucker is older and brown. Neither of them wanted to fight in the war but Shiloh was stolen by a girl in the Confederacy, and Tucker got sold to the US army. You will have to read and see what they go through and if they find each other again.”

We also enjoyed using Mattie’s Enrichment Guide for Day and Night, along with the answer key. It includes: vocabulary, history, comprehension, creating your own stories, further reading, and even more! These include activities, coloring, developing character attributes for a story, biographies, geography, and the list goes on! This is definitely worth the small purchase price, and something you can integrate into your homeschool for a large range of ages.


Dusty’s Trail is about a boy, Levi who runs away with his horse, Dusty, to join the Pony Express. “When someone starts stealing the horses and killing their riders, Levi and Dusty push through more runs  (I think 3?) until they find someone they can tell. Eventually Levi gets captured, Dusty gets separated from him … and you have to read the rest (haha).”

Dusty's Trail

As you can see, the books were greatly enjoyed by my oldest daughter. They will be wonderful reads for my horse loving 5 year old. These books will be best understood by those 8 and up, but I think they can be read aloud to just about any age.

Mattie Richardson is clearly a talented young lady, she has more books coming out, that I know we will be reading! We have enjoyed the Horses in History Series immensely. There are countless way to use it as part of a homeschool curriculum, and they are wholesome books.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Reading Skills for Kids with Reading Eggs {a review}

Reading Eggs Logo

We have used Math Seeds by Reading Eggs with my 4 year old. Now my second grade, newly turned 7 year old has been using their 200 Essential Reading Skills for Second Grade. You can check out all their workbooks HERE.

Reading Eggs Grade 2

These workbook style reading lessons are short, and will help improve reading and critical thinking skills. Lesson focus is divided by day, with days 1 and 2 for comprehension, day 3 spelling, day 4 a spelling lesson that builds from day 3, and day 5 a grammar lesson. There is also review built in to the lessons. The pages are colorful, with helpful tips and instructions that are easy to understand.

There are 72 comprehension lessons that includes both non fiction and fiction passages to give children exposure to many types of text; poetry, novels, plays, informational, persuasive and imaginative texts. 72 spelling lessons covering the most common spelling rules such as digraphs oo, ar, or, suffixes, homophones, the sound of k/ck, and the list goes on. 36 grammar lessons cover adverbs, possessive nouns, simple sentences, punctuation, capitalization, conjunctions, etc.

Parents and teachers will find an entire lesson layout covering the week, days, and the lesson focus with its objective (ex: verb endings, main idea, making inferences, endings:y, ey, irregular plurals, etc). There are 36 weeks of lessons, which you can choose to double up, or spread out. There is also a Year Planner chart page for those of us that are visual.

Reading Eggs Grade 2

What We Think About it & How We Use It

Lessons took us about 15-20 minutes tops, but usually less. My son enjoyed the grammar lessons most, but found all the skills fun and the lessons easy to follow. The lessons aren’t cut and dry; they vary with games, drawing, using pictures for clues, matching, sorting, and more! Sometimes I have to help Mister with a problem on the page, but mostly he is able to work independently after reading the lesson instructions.

In the comprehension lessons students use fun strategies like circling, drawing a shape above, boxing, underlining and coloring to mark what they know, have read, etc. This helps them find the information when answering the comprehension questions. Mister really enjoyed this part, because it was like “solving a puzzle.” =)

Reading Eggs Grade 2

Reading Eggs Grade 2

I like that these workbooks cover the basics, cover them well, and aren’t long boring lessons. Anytime we can cut table time down in our homeschool we do so! This workbooks definitely helps in that area, if you’re a workbook style student/parent combo. And, even if you’re not, but you want something for reviewing basic skills or practicing, these are great lessons that your child can get through without painful hours of frustration and complaining.


Connect with Reading Eggs

Click the banner below to read more reviews from the Crew-

240 Essential Reading Skills & 200 Essential Math Skills {Reading Eggs Reviews}

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Music Appreciation with Living Books {a review}

Zeezok Publishing

In our homeschool, I try to add in (loop schedule style) elements of beauty; picture study, artist study, and nature study. During this season, our family has been enjoying Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades by Zeezok Publishing.

What It Is

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades collection includes:

  • a student activity book
  • Frederic Chopin, Early Years
  • Frederic Chopin, Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

These nine biographies (seven composers), are good and beautiful! They are truly living books, written in such a way that children want to hear more! These aren’t dry textbooks, or twaddly “fact” books.

Zeezok Publishing- music appreciation with living books

Each book is written in a story like fashion, the text is large enough for young children (and mamas, haha) to read easily, and every book has lovely black and white illustrations. Some books are hardcover, while others are softcover.

Zeezok Publishing- music appreciation with living books

What We Think & How We Used It

I love that the literature books have music pieces in the back, along with Q-Codes, so we can scan and listen easily. (These are also found in the student book.) The books illustrated by Christine Price are my absolute favorites (they also have a lot of pictures)!  We really enjoyed reading these aloud during our morning time.

For our homeschool, I chose to read aloud the wonderful books, and have my oldest work through starting with the composer of her choice. She chose to begin with the Adventures of Richard Wagner because it looked most interesting to her. We read aloud during morning time a few days a week starting with that book, then moved on through Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray and Frederic Chopin, Early Years.  While I continues on reading aloud, I let the 9 year old read independently, work through the activity book pages, and scan the Q codes with my phone.

Zeezok Publishing- music appreciation with living books

The student activity book is chocked full of information, charts, and fun! Each composer’s section has colored labeled tabs for easy navigation. Pages are thick and take pencil and erasing well.

The beginning of each section has a weekly outline of topics, activities, and required reading for each week. Students first read the week’s assigned reading before starting the activity book-they will then fill in comprehension questions, take multiple choice quizzes, and do some matching.

The activity book isn’t all question and answer though! The pages are full of information and fun! I love that each composer has a character qualities section. There are page numbers where students can find an example of each character trait in the assigned reading.

You will find sections like tidbits of interest where students can find paragraphs of information to help clarify reading, elaborate on people of history from the reading, and other any background information about the composer. Other sections vary by composer but a few include: geography, family background, impact of the music on culture, popular music and book from the time, recipes, app alerts with QR Code, and so much more.

The activity book is full of color, pictures, and and journaling prompts! The journaling aspect of this program, along with the living books, makes it so unique to other curricula. We really enjoyed the journaling prompts-we keep a writing notebook and chose to use that for the prompts. There is an option for creating lapbooks instead of a journal-we love lapbooks, too!

This program has been a blessing to our family. It is simple to use, the books are lovely, and because the activity book is geared for mid grades (I’d say a fluent reader who writes easily will enjoy this) my 9 year old was able to do it independently. It made adding beauty to our homeschool routine easy and fun!

I encourage you to check out all Zeezok has to offer, because I have made a large wish list looking at their website!

Happy homeschooling!

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Britfield & the Lost Crown {a mid grade mystery novel review}


Britfield and the Lost Crown- a new favorite mid grade novel

Our nightly family read aloud for the last several weeks has been the wonderful adventure novel, Britfield & the Lost Crown written by C.R. Stewart. This 394 page mystery begins at Weatherly, an orphanage run by abusive adults. Here, Tom and Sarah, along with every other girl and boy resident, are labor workers with no freedoms, no books, no education. After outwitting the owners and employees of Weatherly, Tom and Sarah escape their captors; but the clue Tom found about his past is sending them on a truly exciting adventure.

With characters the whole family will enjoy, on the-edge-of-your-seat mystery, and action packed adventure, this novel is going to be a family favorite for years to come! (My children are already begging for more books in the series!)

Using Britfield & the Lost Crown in our Homeschool

As a mama, my favorite part of the book is not only how well written it is (adventure, suspense, excitement, endearing characters), but the vocabulary and settings of the storyline. The vocabulary used is unsurpassed for the 9-12 age group! We even had to look up a few words during our bedtime read alouds. So many aspects, vocabulary and setting included, make this a wonderful read aloud for history studies or unit studies.

Britfield is designed to be taught in schools and homeschool groups, even offering a thorough study guide covering each chapter. We have used the study guide orally, working through it as a family. I love the format of this guide, because it has a lot of room for open ended questions- what do you think trepidation means?- then offering a space for the actual dictionary definition. Vocabulary and comprehension are covered, along with a Going Deeper section that is all open ended questions.  Imagine you are in the Weatherly office and Mr. Grievous is questioning you. Would you respond like Tom? Why or why not? The vocabulary and comprehension sections are creative and vary depending on the chapter- multiple choice, matching, and cross word puzzles, to name a few!

Another favorite feature of the study guide is the Learn More with Technology- this section gives a brief synopsis of a topic, location, a map, and more, from the book to look up online. There are a few longer assignments, and a few brief ones. Of course you can go as deep into a topic as your students want.

The book itself is a thick softcover with sturdy binding. Britfield and the Lost Crown- a new favorite mid grade novel

Because it is recommended for ages 8-9 and older, as we have read through Britfield & the Lost Crown, I have kept an eye out for any language or scenes that may not be appropriate for the younger ones. My husband or I read every night with the older 3 kids (who have the same bedtime), ages almost 5, 7, and 9. The story line of the novel has kept everyone’s attention and has been easy enough to follow. There are only a few words I’ve skipped over as a personal choice- when the evil owner’s of the orphanage used some name calling, such as brat, or stupid. These are very few and far between (honestly I could’ve read it as written, but the almost 5 year old tends to be very animated, repeating anything she sees or hears in her play). So I just skipped those words.

There is also one scene, when the children arrive at Oxford after escaping where I skipped- drunken students are described walking through the courtyard. It was 1-2 sentences that I chose not to read aloud. My almost 9 year old will POUR over this book when we are done reading it as a family, and I am fine with her reading it as written. Because our crowd is a group of mixed ages, I just chose to skip.

When asked about Britfield and the Lost Crown, my oldest daughter says,

“My favorite part is when all the children overrun the orphanage when Tom and Sarah escape. I really like how exciting the story is, and I cannot wait to get to the next part to see what happens!”

My 6 year old son says,

“I like how the bad guys are trying to capture Tom and Sarah! It makes it exciting and I never know what’s going to happen. My favorite character is Tom because he’s been helping make plans, and he steers the ballon across England!”

Britfield & the Lost Crown is now a favorite read in our home! We love books, but I have never had my kids ask to keep reading every. single. night, and begging to read it themselves.

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