Expanding upon the reading of great literature

Over here we homeschool in a pretty eclectic fashion.  Lots of reading, loosely following the Charlotte Mason style.

One thing I struggled with; knowing that I have needed to improve, was our study of literature.  We read and talk about the books, but I am not so good at creating writing assignments, nor have the older kids been the best at completing them. We are a very well read family, but it just felt like there was something missing…… I just kept thinking back to my own public high school classes and feeling like I was missing the mark somehow.

I am now pleased to tell you……. I have found the answer.  Excellence in Literature by Janice Campbell is that “thing” I have been looking for to tie it all together.  It is one of many great tools available from Everyday Education.

I received this book as a download and it has been a blessing to have it in that format.  It can be read on a laptop in the living room, on a Kindle in the bedroom, and on the computer in the kitchen for reference.  I also printed it out double sided and placed it in a three ring binder so my oldest could take it with him to his Radio Broadcast class and work on it in his down time.

Created to be used with Jr.High through High School students and as a College Preparatory class, EIL begins at the beginning.  The first twenty-eight pages cover a variety of topics; from the introduction to the chapter on How to Read a Book, Excellence in Literature presents a concise list of objectives that will help put any anxious high school parent at ease.  The goal is to facilitate independent learning in the last years of school so that the student is well prepared for most anything they will come across in College.

It includes great guidelines to help parents with evaluating the written product of their students; along with many additional resources to enrich the reading of the book.  There is also an Honors course built right in, and they say that you should be able to CLEP any one of the following tests to earn college credit: Freshman Composition, English Composition with Essay, or the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature.

We worked our way through Unit 2 which covered the book, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.  We have enjoyed the links provided to enrich the book reading experience and are waiting for our reserved copy of the movie to arrive at the library so we can wrap up the lesson.  At the end of this week we will have finished a very nice 500+ word essay regarding Passepartout and his antics. (I am trying to talk my son into letting me post his essay when he has finished it…..  )

Overall, we enjoyed the schedule, layout and assignment suggestions that were provided.  There was no hemming and hawing from Evan (my Senior in High School and chief tester for this review) just here is the assignment and here is when it is done.  He felt independent, and I didn’t have to plan or prepare much.

This curriculum is very reasonably priced at $27.00 for the downloadable version and $33.95 (including shipping) for the print version.  Nearly every book on the reading list can be found at a library, or via a Kindle public domain copy, making the curriculum even more appealing to those who homeschool on a budget.

I was very pleased with the product and I intend to use it with my younger children as they go through the Jr. and Sr. High grades.

Please stop by Everyday Education and view their many other resources.  There are five volumes of Excellence in Literature available. I am confident you will find something that you can implement in the Junior and Senior High School years with your family.

Several other families reviewed this curriculum.  Please take the time to visit their blogs and see how it worked for them.  You can find a link over at the TOS Homeschool Crew page.



Everyday Education provided the selected members of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew with a complimentary copy of their curriculum, Excellence in Literature.  It was provided for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are our own and we are not obligated to furnish only a positive review.  If the product was not a fit for our family, we will be sure to let you know.


Heaven Help this Home!

Today we went to the library, it was having one of those quarterly book sales where they sell books at a ridiculous price of $0.25.  I never have been able to resist 25 cent books. 

Among the piles I found a treasure.  One I had read long ago and despite the 1970’s cover art, is still relevant today.  I grabbed it, knowing it was a gem and would refer to it often.  Heaven Help the Home! by Howard G. Hendricks is very worth your time if you happen across a copy. 

Heaven Help the Home

I was flipping through looking for something to jump out at me, and I stumbled upon this passage.

“My friend’s experience forces a question:  how can you communicate convictions to your children in such a way that those conviction become not simply second hand ( as with my nurse friend) but their personal property (as with Joseph)? 

There are two side to convictions: negative and positive, the problems and the principles.  I would encourage you to sit down together as a couple and think through your convictions in terms of what you want to communicate to your children.”

I would like to stand here before you and tell you I have this part all figured out.  I would say that up until a few months ago, I thought I had a fairly good handle on it.  I mean we homeschool right?  so, really what big things do we have to worry about….??

Well, truth is, lots.

The heart of a child belongs to that child.  As I am given free will, so are my children.  My job is to grow them up in an environment that is honoring to God, to teach, to train, to be intentional.  To impress upon them the need for developing a relationship with God, for themselves. 

Sit with your spouse.  Plan.  Discuss.  Start young.  Stay consistent.  Above all Pray separately, and as a couple.  Pray for your children.  That they would remain humble before God as they grow into the teen years and beyond. 


this article was written as a part of The Christian Home.  If you are interested in writing for this blog carnival, please visit The Legacy of Home to find out how to submit your post.  For more great articles this week please visit Day by Day in our World.


reports and writing

Music day!!!!…  how is it going for ya?

Well we have written our report.  All 150 words of it.  It covered the purpose of Music from a Biblical perspective, he talked about his favorite Hymn, and what the first two musical instruments were that were mentioned in the Bible.

This is the first time we have written anything formal for school.  Didn’t turn out too bad if I do say so myself.  Hunter’s big sister was even impressed.

Our next music project we will be working on is a small report on Charles Wesley.  He is the writer of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, which happens to be Hunter’s favorite hymn. It is kind of nice to have some music to do as we work in Language Arts and how to write an essay.  I love cross over work!

We didn’t read much this week from our Mr. Pipes book, but we will work on that more this next week.


Mommy needs Chess Lessons

There are days when I listen to my kids talk and I just know I am in over my head.  This morning was one of those days. 

Hunter (9) and Jeremiah (4) are sitting at the kitchen table playing chess. Hunter thinks he might have gotten Jeremiah into a Check Mate position.  He wants me to come and see if it is. 

Politely I decline.  It isn’t good for a mom to look stupid in front of her children.  Especially a mom that is their teacher.

Hunter again petitions, explaining exactly why it is that he needs me to come check.

I finally break it down for him.  “Hunter,”  I say, “I don’t even know what a Check Mate means, let alone looks like.”

Without missing a beat Jeremiah pipes up, “It’s when I tan’t moov my tween”


I give up.  They know more than I, and I can’t keep up.  I think they are only going to be allowed to play Chess when daddy or big brother are around.  I can’t mediate disputes I don’t understand.  Smile


” Meeples, Meeples……. set down your Peeples……”

This…….. and other crazy songs…..  were invented by the Coney Clan as we played Wits and Wagers Family.

I will start at the beginning…. because I know you are dying to know what a Meeple is.  Well, either you are dying to know or you think I have lost my mind, along with any and all abilities to spell correctly; either way, I am still going to tell you….   Meeples are the action pieces in this fast paced game for the whole family, created by North Star Games. They have been migrating across the Atlantic since 2000, and North Star Games is happy to facilitate this migration by placing them in many of their own games.


From the moment the game box was ripped open in eager anticipation………


through the intense suspense of waiting for the answer to be revealed……..


Every one was involved, engaged, and enjoying themselves around the kitchen table. They say the game is for ages 8 and up….  but as you can see, 4 year olds love it too!


The best part about the game is that you don’t have to know ANYTHING at all to play it. Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero…… The object is to be the best guesser. (is that a word?)  We all learned quickly in our house that Big Daddy was the best guesser and if you want half a chance, you put your Meeples down on his card.


There is even room to be creative with your answers…..


The only trouble we had when playing was getting people to decide on a card for their Meeple to stand on.  Some rounds, ……some people, who shall remain nameless, ….. TOOK…… FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So…….. we made up a song as our timer.  “Meeples, Meeples,….set down your Peeples… Meeples, Meeples, set down your Peeps…. ”  and we would sing it two times through….  If you couldn’t pick a spot by then….  well, tough, your Meeple got grounded.

Feel free to borrow my musical genius when playing Wits and Wagers with your own Family, and use my catchy tune as your Meeple timer.  Smile  Call me,  I will sing it to ya…..

You can find Wits and Wagers Family at your local Target or Barnes and Noble Stores, or use this Locator Page to find a retailer near you.  Retail prices will vary so make sure you shop around and check online for a price that best fits your family’s budget.  There are expansion packs and other great games created by North Star, so be sure to visit their website to see all they have to offer   http://www.northstargames.com/North_Star_Games/Home.html



Our experience with this game can be summed up by my oldest son….


Which is saying a lot since he barely scores 3 points every time we play.  Smile

Check out the 100 or so other reviews on this great game over at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.  I am headed there now to see how everyone else played at their house.

Get Plugged in with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Digital Edition


As a TOS Homeschool Crew Member, I received Wits and Wagers Family, free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the opinions stated above are those of our family as we used this game for fun and frivolity.  Thank you North Star Games for your generosity.


exercise and sickness

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

I have realized that I need to exercise.  Even the thought of exercise starts an allergic reaction, one where I run and hide in the bedroom with a bag of Oreos and a day long marathon of The Housewives of Wherever,  then I marvel at the fact that these women who do NOTHING all day but sit and kibitz like a group of broody hens, manages to stay so stinkin’ thin……

which brings me back to the part where I realize I need to exercise…….

Anyone else see a pattern of denial here?

In our homeschool this week…

We had a week off.  Totally unplanned.  Completely blamed on sickness.  I finally gave in on Friday and took the boy to the Dr.  Now, with drugs on board, he is better, nearly healed by Sunday….  Few more days on the Antibiotics and we can say we are healthy again.  But he is back to school today!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Don’t be too hard on yourself. God gave these children to YOU to raise.  He knew they needed you as their mom.  Don’t feel like a failure if you aren’t as crafty as Jane, or as organized as Suzy.  Your child will not die if they don’t do 7,000 crafts by the time they are 6, and laundry piles are NORMAL!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Big kids went on a Retreat this weekend.  They had fun.  I can tell. I just haven’t had the full data download yet from them.

Little’s and Hubby and I went for a hike on Saturday at a 29 acre place some friends are looking at buying.  We walked through the gully where the creek is.  Pretty stinkin’ cool.

My favorite thing this week was…

Not having to get up at 5:30 am on Friday morning.  It is the only day I don’t have to be the shuttle service, for the college and career bound. This was followed closely by an actual sleep in Saturday.  I haven’t had one of those in forever!

What’s working/not working for us…

I know I just said up there not to worry about being as organized as Suzy, but I need to be a bit more organized.  Like in the weekly sense….  I think I need to print out some charts and have them on the wall to keep me on track.  Otherwise we are easily distracted and go off into tangent land….. cand anyone say:  SQUIRREL?!?!??!

I’m grateful for…

A husband who knows what to say when I am stressed.  A husband who is a leader of my home, physically, and spiritually.  I am most thankful for the journey that has brought us to a place of unity, and left us stronger than we were before.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

The happy bell pepper………..


See you next week!

name gif


Quiet Time

Have you ever had to give yourself a TIME OUT?

Right now, as I type, I can feel my blood pressure rising.  I have a deadline, and I have already missed it.  Kids are running around an being kids behind me…..  Nothing great or chaotic, just normal boy kid noise.

I am not feeling particularly patient with it this evening.  I need quiet.  Solitude even.

Every-so-often, I get thoughtful, almost morose. I feel like I have no joy, nothing left to give.  Empty.

I know I can’t be the only parent that feels this way from time to time.  Maybe it is the endlessly mundane chores that go along with  motherhood, maybe it’s the lack of recognition….. I mean, that’s what the world around me says.

Still, when I am like this, I know I need to turn to God.  I am empty because I haven’t been focusing on Him, I have drifted away.  I feel like I have nothing left to give because I haven’t spent still, quiet, intimate time with my King.

I encourage you friend, when you feel overwhelmed by the mundane, under-appreciated, all around sort of blah….. to spend time curled up with Jesus.  Read the Good Book, which is so much more than a good book, it is nourishment for a weary soul.

this article was written as a part of The Christian Home.  If you are interested in writing for this blog carnival, please visit The Legacy of Home to find out how to submit your post.  For more great articles this week please visit Day by Day in our World.


how to get them to eat what YOU want them to

  This and other advice for picky eaters……


Jeremiah is my picky guy. He doesn’t like the words: Lunch and Dinner.  So, to worm my way around him balking at the word…. we call things Not Dinner, and Not Lunch.  Here he is having a Not Lunch of Cranberries on a Log. This is right after he had told me he was only going to eat cereal for his lunch.  I calmly made celery with PB…. set it down with the cranberries and walked away.  The prospect of playing with his food was too much to resist….. he came over and mommy won the nutritional battle.   He gets the bowl and can control how many berries and their precise placement, upon said log… This affects the taste greatly as many moms know…

Sometimes a Not Dinner for him will be left over chicken pulled into small pieces, a cheese stick a few crackers, and a banana.  Sometimes a Not Dinner is just separating out the food we are eating that night in the form of a casserole, but keeping his as individual items…  a pile of rice, a pile of broccoli, a pile of cheese, and the sauce to dip it in.

We have found that giving him a little bit of control over HOW he eats what we tell him he must…. keeps meal time meltdowns to a minimum.


books about life

I stumbled onto a book the other day……  Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson.


This is what I read from the apologia.com website:

Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home.

That resonated with me.  In our house, homeschooling IS life.  It is what we do, how we behave, it is one of the major things that define our family.  Our goal is to have that strong foundation of the Lord.

….but homeschooling is hard too, anyone that says it is easy, might not be telling the truth! ….  and some days I just need to sit with a book and have some encouragement to hold onto.  I think this book might just be the ticket.  It so blesses me to read how other successful homeschoolers have survived!

I just wanted to share what I found with you, because maybe you have days that need encouragement too.

Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson , is available directly from Apologia.com, for $22.00.

If, like me, you decide to go and get the book…. wander around the apologia.com website for a bit.  It is FULL, I mean crammed full of great resources!

To read a review of this book you can visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Page.


sick week

Well it has been a sick week here.

No piano lessons, no reading about our composers, no math (yay!)…..  just lots of rest, plenty of clear liquids, and a nagging cough that I think is turning into bronchitis.

SO…. we have listened to some music on the radio as we have done some quiet reading, but really no formal school when he can’t talk without nearly hacking up a lung.

I would love to hear how your week went, though…. how did you weave music into your days?

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