Category: elementary school

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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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Our Elementary School Plans 2020-2021

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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?

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Reading Eggs- 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.

A couple of years ago, I came to the realization that I cannot, in fact, do it all. Crazy, right?!?! With four children spanning elementary through high school years, there were just too many gaps happening. I sought out a way to reinforce reading for my younger girls… something they could do on their own a couple of times a week. We settled on Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. It has been a great program! I was going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to continue this year. When the opportunity to review a one year subscription to Reading Eggs came our way, I gladly accepted.

Reading Eggs in an online program that is accessible through your browser or app. We use our iPad to access the app. I had hoped I could download it to our Kindles, but it was not available through the Amazon app store. Reading Eggs provides multiple programs suitable for ages 2-12.

Fast Phonics: Designed for children ages 5-10 who are learning to read. Heavy on phonics and decoding, Fast Phonics offers plenty of rewards as children climb through the program.

Reading Eggs Jr: Designed for ages 2-4, Reading Eggs Jr. provides pre-readers will exposure to language and words as they prepare to build their reading skills.

Mathseeds: This is a program I was pleasantly surprised to find. We had just signed up with the expectation of reading help. Mathseeds is designed for ages 3-9. This is my 8 year old’s favorite part of Reading Eggs.

Reading Eggs: Designed to build your 3-7 year old into a confident reader. You start with a placement test which is great! I was surprised. I really thought my girls were farther along and would have likely started them ahead of where they needed to be which would have ended in guaranteed frustration.

Reading Eggspress: Desiged for ages 7-13 to take them further in their reading journey. The games and lessons are more big kid-ish.

As a parent, I can access the Family Dashboard. It is visually appealing and easy to navigate. With multiple children using the program, I appreicate the ease in which I can switch between the children and the programs to track their progress. I get emails as well when one of my children has completed a certain check point.

My children prefer to use the app over the desk top. Using a mouse is not a skill they are strong in because most of our devices are touch screen. The app (and the browser) are easy to navigate. Once we went over the program, I was able to trust them to be able to get where they needed to and do the lessons on their own.

We have reviewed several learning apps and online programs. I have to say this one is my favorite. The graphics are great… not too bright or too busy. The website is easy to navigate and they have online chat help available. You can also access printable resources for extra learning. I think Reading Eggs and Mathseeds is a fantastic supplement to any language arts or math program. We usually get on a couple of times a week to help reinforce phonics, reading, and math.

Please note, Reading Eggs is a secular reading program. You may come across concepts about evolution in your reading. We have not come across anything I would find inappropriate or overtly against Christianity. For the most part, it is religion neutral.

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Homeschool Easy 3rd Grade – 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.

I have realized that my youngest doesn’t always get my full attention when it comes to school. I have let her be happy to just tag along and absorb what the older siblings are doing. I also know that play is important and let her learn much from her play and engaging of the world around her. HOWEVER… I really let the ball drop with her and my second youngest last year. They are both so smart and have so much potential. It really isn’t fair of me to let them fend for themselves as far as homeschooling goes. SO! I was pleased to receive the opportunity to review the Third Grade Entire School Year Curriculum from Homeschool Easy.

Homeschool Easy is an all in one curriculum that has 1st to 5th grades to choose from. The 1st through 5th grade is a full curriculum which includes all the essential subjects to teach. When you purchase a complete curriculum it includes: reading, spelling, grammar, math, history, science, and writing. You can also buy individual subjects. The cost for the full curriculum is $100.00. Individual subjects are extremely reasonable starting at $20.00 and under.

Homeschool Easy provides 32 weeks of instruction. Everything is in worksheet format and available for download. Once I received my access to the curriculum, I followed the link to several well- labeled folders with all the downloadable content. For me, it was a bit tedious to download everything.

Homeschool Easy is not common core aligned, but rather based on the way the American education system looked before common core was the standard.

From the Intro – “The 3rd Grade Curriculum contains:

Reading– phonics based concepts, including weekly reading words, flash cards, fill-in-the blank worksheets, reading comprehension sheets, chapter book comprehension questions, weekly vocabulary, spelling crossword puzzles, and spelling word searches.

Math– math focuses on traditional math and number sense, including daily worksheets, manipulatives, and flash cards.

Grammar– fundamental grammar, including daily worksheets and flash cards.

History– focuses on American history and patriotism, including daily worksheets corresponding with online videos and various art projects.

Science– monthly age appropriate science subjects, including daily worksheets aligned with online videos and various art projects and experiments.

Writing– focuses on fun, creative writing, including two weekly writing assignments. Also, writing is continually reinforced through grammar, history, and science worksheets.”

The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The preparation has been done for you which is awesome! You will need to obtain the books for reading. They will likely be available from your local library or available for free online. Many of the subjects like have video resources linked as well. The videos have been curated from YouTube. This is not a hands off curriculum for the parent, but there definitely is room for independent work on the part of the student.

To be honest… Homeschool Easy is well thought out and great for people who are new to homeschooling and/ or need a full curriculum laid out for them. I would totally recommend it to those who are overwhelmed at the idea of having to teach their child or want the guess work taken out of the process. However… it is really not our cup of tea. With our delight-directed approach to learning, we don’t have much room for worksheet learning. We are a little more hippie and nature loving. In my opinion, Homeschool Easy does not allow for rabbit trails or camping out on a certain topic… which is the style that we tend to follow.

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The members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed different grade levels from Homeschool Easy. Be sure to check out what they have to say! Click the banner below:

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IEW Structure and Style Level A- 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.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’ve been around here and read any of my posts, you’ll know that we are fairly new to the world of The Institute for Excellence in Writing®. Last year, my oldest went through Structure and Style Level C and we were really impressed. When the chance to review Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A from IEW came along, I glady accepted it with my 3rd and 5th graders in mind.

Before last year, my only experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing®. was through the lens of, in my opinion, high strung, stressed out homeschool moms. It was always confusing when it was explained to me and always seemed to be coming from people who weren’t adhering to the same homeschool philosophy as me. However, I attended the NCHE Thrive conference last year where Andrew Pudewa was a keynote speaker. He is the founder and face of IEW. I was so impressed with his talks and how he approaches home education that I went to the booth and asked more questions. By the end of the conference, I was sold on the program and excited to give it a try.

One of my school related goals for my kids is to produce effective writers. I want them to be strong communicators both in spoken and written word. We have never really used a writing curriculum before and I am so excited about using Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A this year.


Each of these programs provides a complete writing curriculum. You will find everything you need to get started right away, including:

  • Student Binder and Packet
  • Teacher’s Manual
  • Your choice of DVD or Streaming instructional videos

The course includess 24 lessons, taught by Andrew Pudewa. To be honest, I thought my kids were going to find him cheesey and not want to watch the videos. I was wrong. They were really able to connect with his sense of humor and engaging teaching style. Honestly… I found myself yelling out answers to his questions as if I were really in his class.

The binder, packet, and teacher’s manual are well put together and very organized. Everything is clearly written out and easy to follow. This makes implementing the class very easy and seamless in a homeschool or co op environment. All materials your child needs can be found in the student binder and also a notebook. You receive the streaming instructions, student binder and packet and teacher’s manual.

A suggested weekly schedule is provided. I have noticed that we are able to advance at our own speed. When a concept is easily understood, we can move quickly through the lesson. When we need to spend more time on a topic, we can slow down. Because we have access to the forever streaming videos, we have the freedom to work at our own pace. I love that there are literature suggestions to go along with each unit. The suggestions make for excellent read alouds. In Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, some of the literature suggestions include Little House on the Prairie, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and more. I love how the program does not just teach writing in isolation, but incorporates grammar, style, and literature. It is a solid, well constructed program.

One thing that stood out to me when listening to Andrew Pudewa speak was concerning grade levels. He mentioned that when a student begins violin, they start at the very basic level despite their age. The same can be applied to writing. If you have a student who has little experience with writing, you start them at the beginning despite their age. While Level A may be more geared toward younger writers, you could certainly begin there with a middle or high school student who does not have much experience.

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The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed the various levels of Structure and Style for Students. Be sure to check out what they have to say. Click the banner below: