Category: delight directed days

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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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delight directed daysGetting Started Homeschooling

Getting Started Homeschooling Part 9- De-Schooling

This post contains affiliate links.

Deschooling is the adjustment period a child goes through when leaving school and beginning homeschooling. To really get the benefits of homeschooling, a child has to decompress and disconnect from “school” being the default and “school ways” being the standard expectation.

Full disclosure… my children have been homeschooled since the beginning. We have not personally gone through the process of deschooling. I do, however, know the benefit of such a process and will write to you out of that knowledge.

Whenever you have a shift in your family’s norm, you can expect some adjustment time. When you move to a new home, have a new baby, have a health crisis, job change… any shift… big or small… can bring the need for an adjustment.

Deschooling involves a period where you do very little formal school work in order to re-calibrate your child’s natural love of learning.

I found this chart on the Time for Learning website. I really like how it shows the difference between Learning in a Classroom and Home Education. You can see from the chart how vastly different the methods of education are and why it might take time for students and parents to adjust to the new norm! I was a classroom teacher before I had children and made the decision to homeschool. Even though we have homeschooled the entire time, I still had to go through a period of deschooling for myself. I had to realize that homeschooling is not recreating school at home. It is a lifestyle… a freedom… a joy to create a culture of learning in our home and unlock my children’s love of learning on their level and in their time.

Deschooling is essentially a break that allows for transition between public and home school. This does not mean you are on an extended vacation or a free for all time. This is an intentional time to give you and your student space to learn a new normal. This is a precious time to learn your child in a new way. You can learn who they are, what makes them tick, how they learn, and what they are interested in. You can allow space for them to take ownership of their education alongside you.

Some things you may encounter on your deschooling journey:

Grief: Depending on why you chose to homeschool, there may be a period of grief on the part of yourself or your student. Grieving your old normal, your friendships, your habits, etc. This is ok! Give yourself and your children time to process.

Adjustment: Learning a new normal takes time. Give yourself grace as you make the switch to home education. You may decide doing school at night is more effective for your children. You may decide you like online learning or nature based learning or literature based learning. You will likely feel bombarded and probably overwhelmed with all the curriculum choices and helpful homeschool friends. You don’t have to rush to make a decision. Take your time. Learn who you are as a teacher and who your child is as a student.

Deschooling gives you a chance to find your footing. How long you choose to deschool is really up to you. I have heard that you should do it one month for every year your child was in traditional/ public school. So … if you pull your 5th grader and bring them home… maybe expect 4-5 months of a cooling off period. It really is different for every family. You are creating new patterns of behavior and thought. It takes time.

What does deschooling actually look like???

  • visit museums
  • go hiking
  • watch documentaries
  • build with legos
  • visit the library
  • explore interests
  • learn a new hobby
  • play with STEM kits or Maker kits
  • homeschool with minecraft
  • learn a musical instrument
  • make jewelry
  • paint
  • do a nature study
  • have great, in depth talks
  • learn film making
  • read, read, read

Through activities like these, you are able to learn what makes your kid tick! You’ll see how they approach learning and what they are interested in. You’ll give them time to build confidence as a learner and prepare for the education that is ahead of them. This is an opportunity to build a great foundation before you tackle those subjects they need to be college ready!

Learning is happening during this period of deschooling. Valuable learning. Deschooling will look different for different families.. just like homeschooling looks different. If you are new to homeschooling. If you have brought your child home for whatever reason… breathe! You are going to be ok! Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a battle… it shouldn’t be a battle. It might be a puzzle for a while… but you will figure this out! Involve your child in the process!

One book I have found to be particularly helpful is 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch. This helps to understand the way our children view the world, learn, and express themselves. It has been extremely helpful for me to have patience with my youngest who is very “word smart” and my little middle who is very “body smart.” They tackle the world in front of them very differently. My wordy girl has all the words and wants to tell me all the things. We go for walks and she talks the entire time… asking questions, pointing things out, etc. My body smart girl is a mover. She is constantly fidgety, always dancing, running… moving! If I require her to sit still while she is schooling, she will not be fully successful. I learned these things about my girls through time spent with them in the unintentional learning that happens every day.

You have made the choice to home school! I don’t know what spurred that decision on, but it was an intentional choice. You’ve got this!

Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are:

delight directed dayshomeschool arthomeschool helpsProduct Review

Beyond the Stick Figure- 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

It is rare that my children leave the house without some form of art material in hand. My oldest will likely have a career in art. He is quite brilliant (and I’m not just saying that because I am his mother). He spends hours and hours learning and practicing and creating. His sisters have followed in his steps. The most coveted items in our home are drawing notebooks and colored pencils. When the opportunity to review Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School came our way, I was thrilled to take it.

The creator of Beyond the Stick Figure is Sally. She moved to the United States in her twenties. She is a homeschool mom of eight kids. She holds a degree in art and is very passionate.

The Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses includes:

  • Complete Drawing Course
  • Pen and Ink
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
  • 3D Design

The way the online platform is designed is to be completed step by step. You cannot skip any steps. You must complete them one at a time. The lessons are short videos (3-8 minutes long) that encourage a hands on work. For the purposes of this review, we completed Drawing Part 1.

I once heard a speaker at a homeschool conference talking about how we learn. He was using the violin as an example. He was talking about how we often try to classify things in a grade level, but when any person begins a musical instrument (in this case violin), they start with level 1… no matter their age. I find that to be true with so many things… art included. When learning a skill, you start at the beginning. Beyond the Stick Figure Art School is designed for ages 5-95. Drawing Part 1 began very simple with learning about circles, dots, curvy lines and straight lines. Even the fifteen year old who is incredibly talented sat down and learned alongside us without complaint. He especially enjoys the dislike for math that he and instructor Sally share. He smirked on more than one occassion as she got her jabs at math in there.

Because the lessons are so short and manageable, we took one or two days a week to sit together and watch. Depending on the attention span of the kids at the moment, we watched anywhere from 2-4 videos at a time. Most of the kids were excited to watch and learn. I have one that is very concrete- loves math and science. She is not abstract in her thinking at all. She does enjoy drawing, but only within her comfort zone. There were many tears when I asked her to join us. When I asked her what she liked about the course, she said… “I like the lady’s accent… and that she tells us to click our markers closed.”

The instructor is kind and fun. She does not expect perfection from her students and often says, “Have fun with that!” Each lesson builds on the previous one with lots of time to practice and hone the skill. I have one child that likes to know where something is headed. This isn’t always the case with the Beyond the Stick Figure Courses. For example, she introduces circles, dots, and lines and has the students practice looking for and drawing these objects in the first few lessons. Eventually, they come together to draw a flower. For my child that likes to see where something is going, it is difficult to take it step by step… difficult, but good. It makes her slow down and learn to enjoy the process.

When completing the lesson in part one about primary and secondary colors, the instructor mentioned how this knowledge will come in handy in the painting course. The child pictured above was so excited to know that painting is coming!

My table is now covered with all these quarter and eighth sheets of paper. You will have to buy materials to accompany the class. For drawing, we purchased some extra printer paper and a set of Prismacolor markers. Art isn’t cheap! If you want to do it well, it is worth the investment.

The bonus courses included in our Beyond the Stick Figure Art School package include: The three courses are Pen and Ink Techniques and Complete Watercolor, Introduction to Acrylic, and Introduction to 3D Design. Once we have completed the Complete Drawing Course, parts 1-3, we will be able to access the bonus content. My son is especially looking forward to the Pen and Ink and Watercolor.

Art can be intimidating for many homeschool moms. It is often something that is put on the back burner or forgotten completely. I would really encourage you to look into the courses offered from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School. I know that at first glance, the price may seem high. Keep in mind, though, you receive a 3 part drawing course and 3 bonus courses. You can use the materials for the entire family. And… you receive a life time access. Even after completing the 196 steps, you can revisit topics again and again.

We are a very art focused family, and I am actually one of the homeschool moms who feels confident and adept at teaching art… but it is still hard for me to set aside the time and effort. Having courses like the ones from Beyond the Stick Figure are a huge help in our homeschool life.

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delight directed daysProduct Review

Fermentools Starter Kit- 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

Are you even a homeschooler if you don’t ferment stuff every now and then??? With gardening season upon us, now is the perfect time to learn a new skill! The Fermentools Starter Kit has everything you need to get started in food fermenting!

Fermentools Airlock Systems were specially designed with the home fermenter in mind. No need to buy an expensive, bulky crock ever again. Now you can turn any wide-mouthed Mason Jar of any size into the perfect fermenting vessel!

From the Fermentools Website

Fermentools is a family owned business, based in the United States. Their supplies are built to last. Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.

The Starter Kit from Fermentools includes:

  • 1 Stainless Steel Lid – Made from 304 surgical stainless steel
  • 1 Glass Fermentation Weight – Made to fit inside the standard widemouthed Mason jar 
  • 1 Air Lock.
  • 2 Rubber Stoppers (1 with hole for airlock – 1 solid).
  • 1 Rubber Canning Gasket.
  • Himalayan Powdered Salt – Himalayan sea salt has over 80 trace minerals and is ground fine enough to easily mix with cold water.
  • Instruction Guide and Basic Sauerkraut recipe.

The kit contains enough of the Himalayan Powedered Salt to complete several fermenting projects, but you will need the other materials for each jar you choose to use. You’ll notice that the wide mouth mason jar is not included. You will need to purchase that separately.

The instructions for basic sauerkraut are very easy to follow. Make sure you don’t skip a step or read through too quickly… you could end up with mold or stinkier than expected, some what fermented cabbage… just saying. Although sauerkraut is a very easy, beginner’s entry to the world of fermenting, my family just aren’t a fan. The picky-ness factor in this household is astounding. But… I won’t give up! We will give it another go with different fruits and veggies this summer!! I’m particularly excited to try the healthy, probiotic mayonnaise recipe listed under condiments on the website.

You can find receipes for the following on the Fermentools website:

We are excited to use our Fermentools Starter Kit as our garden kicks off this year. We always plant plenty of beans and cucumbers. Honestly.. until we received the kit, I knew very little about fermentation. I have friends that make kombucha and neighbors who eat kimchi… but that’s about where my knowledge ends.

Fermentools is offering our readers a 15% discount until June 30th! Take advantage of this great deal. Use the code: CREW2020.

Even though restrictions are starting to lift in various places around the country, it looks like social distancing is going to be the norm for a while. I don’t know about you, but our summer plans have been turned upside down! The more home-based projects the better. Fermentools offers very reasonable prices on their products. Fermenting is a helpful step towards healthy guts! Read more from Fermentools on why you should ferment!

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Virtual Games to Play During Quarantine

Do you find yourself in a sea of Zoom meetings and Facetime? Or maybe your kids are missing their friends and craving interaction? I am blessed to work in youth ministry. We have been working hard to plan times for connection for the group. We have Bible studies and weekly check ins. This week we added in a weekly game meet up. I’m compiling a list of games to use with the students and wanted to share them with you… the interwebs.

Scavenger Hunt

I’ve seen a few different ways to do this one. You can share an image like one of the ones below (found on Google) and have everyone send in a picture or screen share a picture when you meet up virtually.

We put together a virtual scavenger hunt for our youth using Google Slides. I hosted the meeting on Zoom and used the screen sharing feature to present the objects.

You are welcome to use the hunt we put together. The rules are simple… the camera has to stay stationary. Everyone has to be seated in front of their device until the object is presented… then they race to find it and bring it back. We did that the first five people to return get a point. It has ten objects as well as three bonus/ tie breakers. Click on the image below:

Two Truths and a Lie

Instruct each player to think of three statements about themselves. Two must be true statements, and one must be false. For each person, he or she shares the three statements (in any order) to the group. The goal of the icebreaker game is to determine which statement is false. The group votes on which one they feel is a lie, and at the end of each round, the person reveals which one was the lie.

Never Have I Ever

Players hold up all ten fingers. You take turns making declarative statements of things you have never done. If a play HAS done the thing, they have to put down a finger. Once their ten fingers are all down, they are out of the game.


Speaker: Never have I ever been to Disney World

Players who HAVE been to Disney World have to put down a finger.

Story Train

Create a continuous story. One person gives the opening sentence (or word), then the next person adds on the next sentence (or word). Continue until everyone has had a chance to contribute to the story.

Twenty Questions

There are no preparations or special materials required to play. This game works best with a small groups of about 2 to 5 players.

Select one person to begin Twenty Questions. This person is designated as “it.” For each round, this person must choose any person, place, or thing. The person can be living (e.g. a current athlete or classmate), deceased (e.g. a famous person in history), or fictitious (e.g. cartoon or movie character). The place can be anywhere in the world, including creative places. The thing can be an inanimate object, an animal, a food, etc. Basically anything can be chosen, but try to make the selected item something that can be reasonably guessed. It’s no fun to play a guessing game that is impossible to solve!

After the person has chosen a person, place, or thing, the guessing begins! The other players take turns and ask “yes” or “no” questions in an attempt to figure out what the chosen answer is. That is, the questions must be answered with simply “Yes” or “No.” After each guess, keep track of the number of guesses that are used until it reaches the limit of 20.

Once 20 questions are used up, players may not ask any more questions. If a player correctly guesses the object before then, they become “it” for the next game and choose the next person, place, or thing. Otherwise, the answer is revealed.


This one is easy to play in the traditional manner. Each player will require 5 dice and their own score card. If your friends don’t own Yahtzee, they can print a scoresheet online.

Players should show their dice rolls using video chat so everyone can see what they are doing. Otherwise, play in the traditional manner.

CLICK HERE for the directions for Yahtzee.


Similar to Yahtzee, each person needs to have their own board. Communication is key with this one.

Both players will have to record every move on their own gameboard so each person has to communicate their move very clearly. This is easier on boards that have the grid labeled with numbers and letters. But even without a labeled grid, you can show your board to communicate your move.


One player thinks of a word or phrase; the others try to guess what it is one letter at a time. The player draws a number of dashes equivalent to the number of letters in the word. If a guessing player suggests a letter that occurs in the word, the other player fills in the blanks with that letter in the right places. If the word does not contain the suggested letter, the other player draws one element of a hangman’s gallows. As the game progresses, a segment of the gallows and of a victim is added for every suggested letter not in the word. The number of incorrect guesses before the game ends is up to the players, but completing a character in a noose provides a minimum of six wrong answers until the game ends. The first player to guess the correct answer thinks of the word for the next game.

One Word Game

This game kind of has to work on the honor system. The person who is “it” has to promise to close their eyes while the others collaborate.

“It” will close their eyes while the host of the game holds up an object. They will put the object down. “It” can open their eyes. The other participants have to try to get “it” to guess the object… but they can only give clues one word at a time. The clues cannot include any parts of the name of the object.


Host holds up a pencil sharpener

Person 1: shavings

Person 2: pointy

Person 3: draw

Person 4: wood

Would You Rather

Ask random “Would You Rather” Questions and hear the different answers/ opinions.

HERE and HERE and HERE are some great lists of questions.

The Toilet Paper Game

I KNOW y’all have toilet paper at your house!!! Tell everyone in the group to go get “how much toilet paper you need” … if they ask, “Need for what?” Just smile and say, “Go get however much toilet paper you usually use.”

When everyone is gathered, each person has to tell a fact about themselves for each square they are holding.

Who is It?

Have everyone in the group privately message an interesting fact about themselves to the host. The host will read out a fact and everyone has to try to guess who it is about.

Camera Roll

Host will shout out a number. Everyone has to find a picture on their camera roll matching the number and share it.


The host says 7

Everyone finds the 7th picture on their camera roll and shares it with the group.

How are you guys passing the time these days? How are you mainting community and connection? What about your kids? How are they doing?

Comment below and share your social distancing interaction ideas!