Nothin' 2 Prove

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Looking Back on our 2013 TOS Crew Favorites

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Our first review of the 2013 year was Song School Spanish.

Levi LOVED this program. We slacked off of it a bit after our review because we needed to work harder on his reading. But he asked a while back if we could start it back up again, so we did. With him being able to read better now, it is going really well. I was surprised at just how much he remembered from the original lessons. It’s a GREAT program and I STILL highly recommend it.

Definitely one of our favorites!


Next one of MY favorites is Handwriting Without Tears.

While I didn’t really follow the teacher’s manual, I LOVED the format of the workbook, and how it provided some much needed extra practice at just the perfect time. I loved having the book to pull out and have Levi work on independently when I needed to work with another student or had something else to do (like a review post due,LOL)

HWOT 1st grade Workbook


Taylor and I are still working our way through Classical Academic Press’s Discovery of Deduction: an Introduction to Formal Logic.

We have worked through it at a leisurely pace, doing chunks at a time together.  It has been an awesome followup to CAP’s informal logic,  The Art of Argument that we reviewed last year.

I have reviewed other formal logic programs, and part of the lack of success was that my oldest student just wasn’t at all captivated by the subject, and the other part might have just been timing.

Whatever the reason, however, Taylor has really clicked with the classical subjects and we have had a blast going through these together. I do love subjects that I can learn right along with the student. I think this will really be a significant experience in Taylor’s educational resume for her future. Her brain seems to be wired for logic and argumentation, and Classical Academic Press is one of our very favorite homeschool companies!!



One of the most unique and interesting reviews we did this year was Leadership Garden Legacy.

At first I wasn’t sure I liked it too much. Not really sure why- I think it just seemed really overbearing in the “anti-bully”theme, and seemed to be full of psychological babble. Like an intense therapy session, sort of.

But as we got more into it, the story was adorable with the animal characters, and we all LOVED doing our color wheels that categorized our temperaments, and learning/character strengths. I loved it that all of the kids could get in on it. We had two levels of books, and while I read the one targeted to younger kids to Levi, the older two girls read the older version. (Actually I think my high schooler sped-read through the elementary one, can’t remember.)

Either way, we ended up really loving this program. I love how the components go together, and how the story ties it all together.

It’s a great little family study in my opinion and I guess I should go back and read my review again, and make sure it reflects that! It is funny how our opinions can change as we work through stuff!

UNIQUE Kids book photo leadership-uniquekidsbook_zps3822722c.jpgU.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within - paperback


See the Light’s Paper Jungle was among our top favorites.

What a super-great way to get some hands-on art projects in, while learning about real elements of art! And all from a professional artist, that adds in Biblical content and character training!

Which reminds me, we need to get started on our next See the Light project…


A Mommy-favorite is next: Math Mammoth.

While Levi wouldn’t jump up and down for joy and say that Math Mammoth is his favorite, he does work through it very well. The worksheets are easy for him to do and understand, and so very easy for me to print off.

I love that I can take a few worksheets and teach him the concepts with the followup problems, and they are organized in a few different ways so he can get some good practice. I love that they are easy enough to give him the confidence he needs to move on, and thorough enough that he is progressing really well.

I love that I can print out what I need, when I need it.

Math Mammoth is a GREAT math program.

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Birdcage Press Wild Cards are still being played with.

We reviewed the Baby Animals Around the World which came with a neat little book.

Wild Cards - Baby Animals Around the World photo Birdcage-wildcardsbabyanimals_zps7f8bf6b3.jpg

I’m glad I came across this review again because I remember something I wanted to put on my Christmas shopping list. I think a couple of these sets will be great stocking stuffers! Levi voted for these as his favorites in a couple of the Crew voting categories.


A favorites list just would NOT be complete with Institute for Excellence in Writing on it.

While we continue to use many of their other products, I was blessed to review one that I have always been interested in this year. It was really a review for ME, as I was to use the program to learn how to teach the classics to my students.

Teaching the Classics is certainly the quality and excellence I’ve come to expect from IEW. The program is thorough, very well laid out in structure, organization, explanations, and of course the seminar format is just my favorite.

I have grown to love the classical approach to teaching and we had started with teaching classical literature a few years back. With Levi, my newest student, it’s been nice to adopt a bit of a new approach to keep myself interested and learning as well. IEW’s PAL reading program that we started last year that ended up being an absolute life saver for us begins the classics and basic format of teaching in this way very early. I LOVE the way that the IEW products, though from different authors, all mesh together. I just LOVE IT!

I have adopted some of the teaching from Teaching the Classics, but as we are still working our way through really getting our reading and spelling down good, I haven’t really dove into the nitty gritty of the program yet.

I am anxious to go back through the program and add to my notes and really get going on it. The program is super-motivating and encouraging and really lights a fire for teaching!

I highly recommend this one, and will say it was probably my favorite teaching program I reviewed this year!

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Next on my chronological favorites list from the 2013 Crew year is 25 Truths.

This is just a super-cool little book for EVERYONE.

I really love the charming story of how this book stemmed from a list of truths a coach gave to his team to live by.

It’s real life.

It’s just really the way we all should live!

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This would make a FABULOUS gift for graduates.

Just sayin…


And, drumroll please…….

my vote for all time favorite product of the year was…

Picaboo Yearbooks!

What a fun, nostalgic, exciting fulfilling, wonderful experience!!

I feel a little off that I didn’t make an actual “yearbook”, but what I did make was a memoir of one of our biggest, best and most significant homeschool projects and accomplishments of all time.

I put together a memory book of the journey we took in breeding and foaling our own baby horse.

It was a magical time, and the memory book really shows that. The rich colors, backgrounds, quality paper, layout, they are all just perfect.

I LOVE these books. I will be making more!


Another Levi-favorite is the Fascinating World of Insects dvd by Brainfood.

This really is a wonderfully produced and put-together dvd.

The photography and video are amazing, up-close and definitely capture the attention and affections of my 7 year old.

I really LOVE the way the video has questions and quizzes included!

This got a Levi vote in one of the Crew Favorite categories too!

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Time 4 Learning has been another life-saver for us.

Definitely a favorite, because it’s easy, educational, and has led Levi to some amazing progress in his reading and learning this year.

I love it because of the content- it’s introducing him to some basic things (okay, yes, it’s public schoolish, but it’s good basic info!) that he is grasping and interested in.

I love Time 4 Learning also because Levi can use it fairly independently, and I can count on him learning while I’m not able to be here to teach him, yet I can see the progress he has made.

I am planning to continue his subscription monthly once it’s over.

It’s a great tool, and peace of mind for this season of our homeschooling!




We were blessed to review an old favorite that has been rekindled as a NEW favorite!

God’s World News is a monthly current events newsletter with a Biblical perspective that I subscribed the girls to for a few year. The newpapers are on the child’s level: Pre-K-K, 1-2 grade, 3-4 grade, 5-6 grade, middle school and high school. They also have an adult magazine called World that I just LOVE.

Before I was able to subscribe to each girls’ level and the content was the same so we could discuss the material together. I really loved that about the magazines, but our favorite part was probably the big wall map that the girls got to stick flags to as they did their “map-it” activities. These are little boxes included in some of the articles to map the location of the current event.

Well, just as I suspected, Levi has been every bit as excited and interested as his sisters.

I just LOVE sitting down with a fresh new newspaper for us to explore. It’s just a wonderful addition to our school day and is motivating, and filled with fun puzzles and projects as well.

There is a neat online website now too that has wonderful Worldview news and is linked to the magazines and can be accessed at all levels.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to read through World magazine again myself as well.

This is a Gunn Ranch Academy Favorite for sure!!

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Rolling around to fall of this year, Taylor’s favorite and voted our family favorite is next up.

Taylor was blessed with the experience of reviewing and online Marine Biology course from Bridgeway Academy.

She was super excited that the subject was Marine Biology because that is her career of choice as it stands and has been since she can remember.

She has been through numerous marine biology courses in the past, and studied Apologia’s Swimming Creatures for three years in a row. LOL.

She has studied and made numerous notebooks on her own, and was so excited to be able to be taught by a real marine biologist teacher.

She enjoyed the online live lectures so much once we got our new internet and she was able to participate.

She couldn’t make her homework submit correctly through the online website, but was able to email the instructor.

Taylor did a phenomenal job and worked so very hard on her projects that it seemed like she should be getting a college credit for what she was doing!

She said upon wrapping up her course that she would really love to do more courses through Bridgeway academy like this. She LOVED it.

Realistically, I don’t think it will be in our budget, but I am going to keep an open mind!

Bridgeway Academy was voted Taylor’s favorite, and our family’s favorite.

Bridgeway Logo photo bridgewayacademylogo_zps8c2d62cc.jpg


Our next to last review of the year was a series of 4 little paper back books that covered different cultures around the world.

If You Were Me and Lived in…



South Korea


The packages came with some extras besides the paperback books.

We got a blow-up globe, two flag pencils, and two different paper passports.

These little books are jewels. Levi and I both call them favorites.

The way they are written is really cool and I can’t wait for more to come out.

We journeyed through 4 cultures, learning history, language, favorite food, names, cultural events, and more.

We looked up many of the places, events, and other things on the computers and planned a trip someday to the Snow Hotel in Norway.

These are really fun little books and a wonderful way to bring geography, culture, and some unit studies into your day!

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 photo if_you_were_me_and_lived_in_France_zpse258286f.jpg photo norway_cover_zpsf09dea5b.png


Last but not least, a mom favorite that I enjoyed reading so very much.

I was able to sit back and relax and get a little nostalgic as I read through At Home in Dogwood Mudhole.

I just loved the journey through the real life times of the Sanders family in Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee.

I am not really much of a “book reader”, in the fact that I just don’t have or take the time to really sit down and read a book cover to cover.

I tend to spend my time reading instructional stuff, digging into vet cases, animal stuff, etc.

But this book was something I just couldn’t put down. It wasn’t like any other I had really read, and I guess I loved it so much because of my connection to Tennessee and farming. and animals, and kids and family. That’s what this book was all about, and it is one of my favorites!


 photo athomeindogwoodmudhole_zps737c60fa.jpg


So that’s it folks.

Gunn Ranch Academy’s 2013 Crew Favorites!

Enjoy Your Journey!







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