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NatureGlo’s eScience- A Review

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

Oh my ever loving self-paced, relaxed, unit study, unschooling heart. I am terrible… I mean… terrible with follow through. Year long curriculum and I just don’t have a good track record when it comes to finishing what we start. When I find something that is more unschooly and delight-directed… self-paced and relaxed… it is just the best! Enter NatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle!

We received one year of access toNatureGlo’s eScience MathArt & Science Course Bundle. This was a special bundle designed just for the Crew and comes to us from NatureGlo’s eScience. We had the opportunity to sample a variety of the courses provided. This 25-course bundle contains courses from NatureGlo’s MathArt and natural sciences classes.

The 25 courses were

  • Botany (redwood trees)
  • Bubbleology
  • Geology
  • Herps Explorers (three separate units)
  • Herps Zoology (two separate units)
  • Introduction to MathArt
  • Invertebrates
  • Marine Biology (six separate units)
  • Mammals
  • MathArt (six separate units)
  • Marine Reptiles
  • Marine Zoology (two separate units)
  • Math Connections with the Real World
  • Life and Mathematical Art (two separate units)

I mean… where to even start??? My kids are ages 8, 11, 13, and 15. Every few weeks, I like to just take a break from the norm and throw in a unit study or independent study. These courses from NatureGlo’s eScience are PERFECT!

I loved M.C. Escher as a high schooler. I was fascinated by his work. I am excited to share this with my kids! You can see from the image above what a course looks like when you click on it. Title, lessons, etc. The units are short. The M.C. Escher one has 2 lessons. Others like the Herps Explorers (Frogs, Geckos, Chameleon’s, and more) are longer with 6 weeks of material.

I had a bit of difficulty navigating the website at first, but once I got the hang of it I was good to go. Students go to their course, scroll down and click on their lesson. They then follow instructions, watch videos, etc. The lessons offer many extension activities to go deeper… to rabbit trail off and follow your interests. The courses are very video heavy. Students who have a difficult time sitting in front of a screen or learning from video may struggle. However, you can always choose ot break up a lesson over the course of a few days.

Students can choose to jump around and pick topics that interest them in no particular order… OR they can follow this well laid out road map that takes them through all of the courses offered in the MathArt and Science Bundle. For my kids, I plan to let them pick a unit study and go for it!

Here are the choices so far:

8 year old: Bubble-ology

11 year old: Mammals: Wildcat, Gray Wolf, and Right Whale

13 year old: Marine Biology: Tide Pool Communities

15 year old: The Life and Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher

Whether you are looking to break up some heavy curriculum or build a year of unit studies or allow students to follow their interests…you’ll want to consider NatureGlo’s eScience. The courses are great. The creator obviously cares about what she is teaching and provides solid content for her students. If you have been considering an unschoolish/ delight directed kind of life… this would be a great place to start (in my opinion)!

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highschoolmiddle schoolProduct Review

Simply Coding- A Review

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

When I was in high school, I had a TI83 graphing calculator. I learned how to make games and program formulas. If I had paid as much attention to the actual classes I was in that I did learning to manipulate that calculator… well… let’s just say my relationship with math might be much better. I didn’t realize at the time that I was doing something called “coding.” It was just not the language of the day. If you are around homeschool circles long enough, the term “coding” will come up. Our library offers coding classes, websites are dedicated to teaching kids how to code, books, courses, etc. Coding is big deal for the world in which our kids are living. Coding is essentially learning the language of programming. I was very excited when were given a chance to review the Coding for Kids Annual Membership from Simply Coding.

When first given the opportunity to review the membership, I had my younger kids in mind. My oldest used to have a great interest in all things computer and computer programming, coding, web design, etc. He has gradually moved away from these things. However, we were out with friends the other day and I heard him say that he wanted to get back into coding. I didn’t want to add to his school work because as soon as I call something “school,” it is tainted and not worth his time. Instead, I said, “Hey Bud… I heard you mention you want to get back into coding? We were given this program that I have to review… I mean… I could set you up as a user on it… no big deal… just if you want to.”

“Um yeah… sure.”

I went through the process of setting up my account and adding students. This was super easy to navigate and complete. He got his own log in and password. There is a student dashboard in addition to the parent/ instructor dashboard.

When he logs on, this is what he sees:

The three in light blue are the courses he had access to through our membership. He also has access to those other tabs: Simply Media, Simply Tech Essentials, and Simply Tech4Kids. He is excited about the Simply Tech Essentials because it has a big focus on photography and design.

Here are just a few of the classes that they offer:

  • JavaScript Game Design
  • Into into Websites
  • Minecraft Mods in Java
  • Digital Photography
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Blogging 4Kids
  • Create Your Own Youtube Channel

For his first class, he chose JavaScript:

I asked my son (age 15) what his first thoughts were. He has taken classes before on JavaScript and web design. He said Simply Coding is more intuitive and faster paced than courses he has done in the past. He felt like he got to the “fun stuff” faster and therefore, it kept his interest.

Simply Coding is designed for ages 11-18. It is “a self-paced interactive online curriculum that teach youth how to code their own computer games, websites, and apps through the correct structure and environment.” As an adult, I am actually excited to give some of the classes a try. I am fairly well versed in Adobe, but I noticed there was a class on using Adobe In Design. I think I will give that one a try!

Simply Coding could definitely work into your weekly homeschool rhythm. I decided to just give it to my son to work through on his own and not assign it as “school work.” By doing this, there is not a minimum requirement each day… he can work on it whenever and for however long he chooses. I heard him talking with his dad about it the other night… he was excited about the things he is learning. And little does he know, I am watching him and if he finishes the class, it will most definitely appear as a Computer Science credit on his transcript!

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Our Middle School Plans 2020-2021

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for a while. Starting our 11th or 12th year… not really sure at this point. I’d like to think I’d have a handle on things. Each year brings unique challenges. Each year brings opportunity to explore and enrich. I did not come into this year excited like I have in the past. To be honest… I just wasn’t feeling it. I am essentially just going through the motions… faking it until I’m making it. I told my husband a few days ago that I really can relate to my son… not really knowing the point of some of the classes I’m requiring of him. But sometimes we just have to play the game, right? But I want more than that for my kids. I want them to love learning. I want them to have the keys to identify what they want to learn and go after it! Ug… such is the life of a homeschool mom… living in the tension of the want to and the have to.


I have an 8th grader this year. She is brilliant and creative. She helped me put together her course work. We have the spine, or the core of the year in place. I’m sure we will rabbit trail as the year goes on.


I learned my lesson with my older child. I should not bear the full responsibility of teaching Algebra. I just don’t get it myself. I was barely staying a step ahead and I think I may have broken him. My daughter is very talented at math. I was afraid I would break her too! I signed her up to take Algebra from a local homeschool dad. She uses Saxon and is doing well so far as I can tell.

Language Arts/ Literature

You may have read my post about our Elementary Plans and how I am incorporating visual reading lists into our year. This is an idea I saw through 1+1+1=1

Download a printable version here:

The larger 6 books are the required reading for the year. I ask that she read for at least 20 minutes per day. If she completes the required six before the end of the year, she has the others listed on the bottom to choose from.

Can I just tell you how much I failed in the first week with this new idea that had me so excited? I was so thrilled to curate book lists and design the covers and put together reading notebooks. I was so proud of myself. Well… you’ll notice the first book on her list is “Peace Child.” This is a book that is on all the Christian book lists… I saw it come up over and over again as I was researching books. She came to me the first day and said, “I’m nervous to read this book… it says it is about cannibals. Can I pick a different book?”

Now… mind you… I’d never read this book so my response was really not fair.

I informed her that it is a book primarily about missionaries and not cannibals. It is a book on all the Christian book lists. It probably doesn’t even really focus on the actual act of cannibalism. She needed to read it. She would be fine… just read the book.

The next day, she came upstairs… pale and shaking. She handed me the book. She said that someone’s head had been chopped off and they ate him. She opened the page and pointed. I saw words like “blood” and “skull” and “dripping.”

She was now terrified and asked again if I could just let her pick a different book. I let her move to the next on the list… Holes. I guess I should do a little more research next time I curate a book list.

For writing and grammar, we are using IEW’s Structure and Style Year One Level B. It is very similar to what my younger girls are doing, just at a higher grade level. She is doing Fix It Grammar alongside the program. I was hesitant for a very long time to use anything IEW, but as I’ve gotten to know the program, I have come to really appreciate it. The program is 24 weeks long… which is great because we can slow down or speed up as we need. My son completed level C in three months last year, but my girls will likely take a little more time with it.


This year, she picked Physcial Science through Schoolhouse Teachers. She was thinking to go ahead and do biology like her brother did in 8th grade. She is more scientifically minded than he is and I want her to take a more intensive biology than he did so I encouraged her to give herself one more year before jumping in. So far she is enjoying the Physcial Science course. It utilizes World Book Online and has a lot of hands on experiments.

Right now through November 3rd, you can take advantage of the Mama Bear sale on Schoolhouse Teachers! Use the code MAMABEAR and get a full year plus a Mama Bear tote and Print copy of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for just $159.

Trip Around the World

My dear friend Marji from Master’s Mark Academics teaches some amazing classes through our local co-ops and online. With the uncertainty of the world right now, I was super hesitant to sign my children up for any in-person classes (other than Algebra… because… Algebra). Instead, we took advantage of some online learning. I signed the 8th grader up for a fall class called “Trip Around the World.”

Part of the class description reads:

“A Foreign Language Survey Course

Your student will experience a taste of six languages and cultures, and touch on the geography and culture to go with them.

We will explore Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Arabic.

Your student will learn the same Scripture in each language, the chorus to “Jesus Loves Me”, how to count (at least from one to ten), the basic colors, as well as elements of the culture and the countries who speak that language.”

You can learn more about the class and Master’s Mark Academics HERE.

Well. There you go! This is our plan for middle school this year. Middle School really is an amazing time. They start to learn more independence, more self regulating. They really hone their interests and are just super fun creatures all around! Check out my post on homeschooling middle schoolers if you need a little more inspiration!

How about you? What is your middle schooler learning about this year?

CurriculumProduct Review

My Teaching Library- A Review

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

We were recently given the opportunity to join the Download Club from My Teaching Library. Over the last few weeks, we have been able to add some fun resources to our homeschool life. My Teaching Library is geared for homeschool families and offers a wide variety of downloadable resources. Printables are available from preschool all the way through high school. I am particularly excited about the SAT prep for my high schooler.

You can use My Teaching Library to purchase indivdual resources or subcribe for either an annual or a lifetime member to access all the resources. Joining the Download Club is the most cost efficient. We were given a one year access. For comparison sake, the annual membership is $45/ year. The lifetime membership is $225. The SAT prep that I downloaded for my son would be $9.99 to buy individually and the Fall Scrapbooking referenced below would be $3.75. You can see that purchasing the individual resources would add up rather quickly! The membership to the Download Club is definitely the way to go!

The website is somewhat easy to navigate. I did find some aspects to be a little cumbersome like hovering over the menus or trying to search for a specific key word or topic. You can serach by grade or subject. It has plenty of academic as well as elective subjects. We recently went apple picking. I had my daughter pick a page from the Fun Fall Scrapbooking and Notebooking download to complete.

I threw down an apple at my mom and she did not catch it and it got bruised.

She enjoyed picking a picture to add to the page and writing about how I did not catch the apple she so carefully picked.

My Teaching Library is a resource that can be folded into any homeschool style. You could use it if you need a little extra math or reading help. You could use it to download lapbooking resources for unit studies. If your child has an interest, you will likely find some type of resource on My Teaching Library to help you incorporate it into your school. You can even find videos, textbook, and interactive learning. To be honest, I think you could use My Teaching Library to build your whole homeschool year.

Once you find a resource you want to use, you can click to download. This does not immediately download to your computer, but rather sends the resource to your “downloads” on your account. You can then navigate to your downloads and proceed to download to your computer or device. You also get an email with your purchase receipt (free for Download Club Members) and a link to download.

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Our Elementary School Plans 2020-2021

**This post contains affiliate links**

I know it is a whole thing… time speeding up as you get older… years clipping by at a crazy rate of speed. 2020 has been the longest year and also the quickest year and the weirdest year. It seems as if a pause should have been put on all things, but yet they keep going! Just like that, summer came and went! I wasn’t ready! I wasn’t ready to give up the evening light, the days at the pool, summer camp, gardening. I wasn’t ready for school to start back, but it was time.

I made a commitment to myself to be more intentional with my younger two this year. They have not gotten the best of me in the last couple of years. I took a position at our church working with the youth group and shifted my focus to all things middle and high school. Our extra curriculars and get togethers have been all about my older two with my younger two tagging along behind. This attitude and rhythm trickled into our school time as well and I realized at the end of last year that I really did those girls a disservice. I intend to right that wrong this year with more intentional time.

With that said, I also know that life happens and have learned to hold loosely to plans. Here are the plans I have made (and hope to follow through with) for the 2020-2021 school year for my 3rd and 5th grade gals!


I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came across a post from Carisa at 1+1+1=1 all about visual reading lists. The idea just struck me and got me excited about the school year. I just needed one little punch in the arm and Carisa’s pics did the trick. I dove into her blog posts, gleaned from her wisdom, and used some of her free printables to put together visual reading lists for each of my girls (3rd, 5th, and 8th grade), choosing my own list of books for them.

Here’s how we are using the visual reading lists… Each girl has a required amount of books to read. My 3rd grader has eight required books and then eight more once she finishes. She is reading much faster than I anticipated! My 5th grader has six required books and then a few optional if she finishes those. In their notebooks, I have put dividers and a section for each book using the printables from 1+1+1=1. They are required to read for at least twenty minutes per day and work in their notebooks. For more book ideas, check out my Pinterest Reading List Boards.

I made a chapter tracker for each book in Google Docs using an image of the cover and inserting a table.

If you would like to have a copy of our visual reading lists, click below:

Writing/ Language Arts

We were given an opportunity through the Homeschool Review Crew to use IEW’s Style and Structure Level A. Last year, I used Level C with my high schooler and was very impressed. I have come to really appreciate IEW. I decided to use Level A of Structure and Style for my elementary girls this year as their main writing curriculum. To be honest, it is a little much for my 3rd grader. She gets frustrated and ends in tears often. She enjoys the videos and understands the concepts, but when it comes to the actual work, she has a hard time keeping up. My 5th grader is tracking and doing very well with the program.

We are using Fix It Grammar along with the Structure and Style Level A program. We are using the first book, The Nose Tree.


We are continuing with Math U See. The third grader is in Gamma and the 5th grader is in Delta.


We were given access to Journey Homeschool’s Elementary Astronomy through the Homeschool Review Crew. You can read my review HERE.

We usally do science on Tuesday and Thursday. The Astronomy course has a short video and then suggested activities, copywork, memorization, and reading lists.

Putting it All Together

I got these book storage bins from Amazon. I like these because they are long enough to hold a three ring binder. All of the materials my girls need for the day can be found in their box. They return their completed work to the boxes at the end of the day.

Each of the girls has a composition notebook. I let them pick a fun design from Target. I write a checklist for them each day. This helps them see what is expected and work at their own pace. Some things we do together… like their writing and science… and some things are independent. Teaching these girls self- regulation has been so important. We recently got them both a Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 Watch. My 5th grader has the Star Wars theme and the 3rd grader has the Frozen theme. In addition to the physical fitness goals, we can program in chores they need to complete. They can also set timers and use a stop watch which have been super helpful when it comes to reading, practicing piano, etc.

I am trying to leave space for exploration of interests and time with friends. Our homeschool co-op cancelled classes for this Fall. I have no idea what the Spring holds. I have let our classes be my fall back opportunity for my girls to spend time with their friends. Without it, I am having to be more intentional… which is just fine. We are taking more advantage of park days and other fellowship opportunities.

How about you? What are you doing for your elementary age kids this year?