Chemistry 101 on the Road {Review}

In exchange for this review, The 101 Series gave us a copy of Chemistry 101. Some other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed Physics 101 and Biology 101. You can learn all about what others had to say by clicking on this banner:

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

What is The 101 Series?

I’m feeling very bullety, so I’m going to write almost everything with bullets. Yup, crazy fun.

  • high school science courses
  • video courses
  • one year long
  • Biblical world view
  • created by Westfield Studios and Wes Olson, a veteran filmmaker
  • include printables–quizzes and a guidebook
  • include printable PDF course accreditation program booklet


Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
What is Chemistry 101?

I’m done being bullety. I’m feeling prosaic now. Let’s use full paragraphs, shall we?

The Chemistry 101 class that The 101 Series sent us is a full year of high school chemistry on video from a Biblical perspective. (When I say video, I mean DVD. Let’s just accept that I’m olde.) It comes with four discs. The first three contain 19 video sessions running anywhere from 20-45 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time to listen to someone talk about chemistry, but this guy kept us glued and he also made us (okay me) laugh…a little too much for chemistry lessons. I got some stares.

Each lesson is expected to last you two weeks if you do “the works.” If you want to merely introduce your kids to chemistry and not do the labs, you will still learn! So, theoretically, you could finish this whole thing in a month if you’re using it as an overview or introducing your younger kids to it or refreshing your own olde brain…use your imagination.

The final disc includes printables, including quizzes/tests and a full one-year course book–“the works” I mentioned earlier. There is a booklet you can print for accreditation, if you’re concerned about that…which I’m not…but probably should be. Wink. Using the accreditation booklet and the included suggestions for additional learning and activities, this course stands alone as a one-year high school science course–a pretty big deal. Otherwise, you can use it as a supplement to something else you’re doing.

The final disc also includes a schedule. Sigh of relief! (This is where I interject something about not being a slave to a schedule, about using it as a spine–flexible, but supportive–and perhaps say something about the joy and freedom of year-round homeschooling…with breaks. Assume I said all that, ‘kay?)

This is a lab course, so if you do the lab work, it will count as your high school lab credit on your high school transcript. (Am I getting redundant here?) The labs mostly use common household items, so you won’t have to send your last paycheck off to deepest Peru for a rare monohaki. (I made that word up.) There is a list at the beginning of the accreditation booklet, so you can get all your goodies up front.

It’s pretty easy to work field trips into some of these lessons, but you’ll also get a pretty good edu-ma-cation sitting on your keister and watching the videos and eating popcorn.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Chemistry 101 is broken down into four parts as follows:

  1. The Road to the Periodic Table–this starts 3000 years ago (get out your timeline books to make some amazing connections) with stories from history about how we began breaking components of our known world down into the periodic table of elements. Assures us that by the end of Chem 101, we’ll be chums with the PT–what it means, how to read it, and how to explain it to someone els.
  2. Chemistry Essentials–this portion digs deeper into the chemical world. You’ll even learn how to balance seemingly overwhelming but actually extremely comprehensible chemical equations. I geek out over this stuff…and I’m not a science person…or am I? 
  3. Meet the Elements: this is where you get to know every single element perfectly–have them over for dinner, learn their nicknames–it’s pretty cool. And, yes, get one of those laminated periodic table of the elements placemats from your favorite school store, because you’re going to want to memorize that baby! I mean, everyone loves memorizing the PToE, right?
  4. Future of Chemistry–this is about the future of chemistry. You’re welcome. Isn’t it fascinating that your CHEM101 class begins 3000 years ago and ends rather open-endedly in the future? It’s a history lesson and science study all in one. You will want to keep those timeline books handy!

Bible talk time:

You can tie this study into your Biblical studies a bit. Genesis 4 talks about Tubal-Cain, the craftsman in bronze and iron. Bronze is an alloy, so that required some extreme skill in extracting the necessary elements and creating the material he needed.

Our CHEM 101 instructor emphasizes how we stand on the shoulders of brilliant men that have gone before to reach the heights we have reached now. This is very important and humbling, particularly in a world where our elders are looked down on and we have come to think we “know it all.” What we know is only because it was revealed by God and discovered by others. We just build on it.

May I say that I love a science teacher who carries a pocket Bible. Science and Scripture are not incompatible. Science proves Scripture. Can I have an amen here…unless you’re German Lutheran, in which case a slight inclination of the head will do. Thank you.

May I also say that one of my new favorite people of all time is Robert Doyle. He is one of the greatest scientists ever, and, whoa, totally agrees with my last paragraph. Look him up.

Some concerns you might have:

While this is a high school course, your tagalong younglings are not going to be exposed to anything objectionable…unless you object to God as Master of the Universe. My 2nd grader watched it with us and did say, “Am I supposed to understand this stuff?” So, they might not “get it,” but they’re not going to see bad stuff.

The videos are not cheesy, B-rated, early Christian film type. They are well done…in my opinion. I really enjoyed watching them.

The labs mostly use common household items, so you won’t have to send your last paycheck off to deepest Peru for a rare monohaki. (I made that word up.) There is a list at the beginning of the accreditation booklet, so you can get all your goodies up front for each video segment. (I know I said this earlier, but I bet you skimmed and missed that part.)

Okay, in brief:

I laughed. I learned. I love this CHEM101 class. I also like saying CHEM101 out loud to my kids, because they’ve never gone to a real high school and maybe they think I’m cool with my code.

There is a potential con, depending on how good you are at steering around obstacles. You can read about it in the next section:

Additional Thoughts for my Fellow Roadschoolers

That con I mentioned…it’s this: the printing. Oh how I hate printing. But I need something in my hands. I like books, people. I don’t like finding trailer space for them, but I like them anyway. And for science, a subject I geek out about but really need to work hard at, a book is very important to me. Or so I thought.

Not having a book, surprisingly, doesn’t take away from the course. Strangely, for this subject, I find myself learning just as well with the video than I did with a book…maybe even better. (Sorry books–I still love you!)

And because this is a video course with all the material on tiny little discs, you don’t need shelf space! All you’re really printing and storing (or throwing away) is quizzes (or just do them out loud or straight from the screen like us) and the guidebook (or just glance at it on the disc now and then, like us).

So my one con (no book, some printing…that makes two cons) isn’t really a con if you’re good with oral quizzes or quizzes from a computer onto paper, and if you can learn through a video, which most of you should be able to do, because the instructor is great…and there’s a rewind button on your video machine.

If you can’t do a lab because, hey, you are on the road and life is not like life in a house and sometimes you can’t even make a pizza much less do a chemistry experiment, it’s okay. The labs are all shown on the video. The kids can still practice writing up lab reports. Just press pause during the experiment so they can make their hypotheses and then continue.

No internet connection, no shelf space, very little weight, no truly major supplies needed, four holders taken up in your DVD case…or shove them all in one (I’ve never squeezed in more than three…and we scratch discs up a lot…so never mind shoving them in together)–it’s a road-friendly upper level science course. There, that one last reason for not hitting the road is gone. Get on out there!

Learn what others have to say:

Remember, other Homeschool Review Crewers (I think I just made up another word) are looking at Chemistry 101 as well as Physics 101 and Biology 101, so check them out here, or visit The 101 Series’ social media links below. I really like this review of Chemistry 101 by a more normal homeschooler over at Unexpected Homeschool, so check it out, too, if you’re hunting for a chemistry course. Speaking of physics (and you’ll learn why this is physics and not chemistry in the course), I smell a stinky diaper. Outta here!

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @the101series


Crew Disclaimer

Achieving Spanish Fluency {Review}

Middlebury Interactive Languages gave my family free access to High School Spanish II Fluency for grades 9-12 in exchange for this review.

We are always on the lookout for the best way to learn Spanish more fluently as a family, besides moving to Mexico or, my personal favorite option, hiring a Spanish-speaking cook. We frequently are in areas where Spanish is pretty essential. In fact, we participate in Spanish services often enough in our mission travels to necessitate at least a working fluency in the language. You can’t get much beyond lunch with a vocabulary of “taco burrito fajita el pollo loco por favor y gracias.” Ever on the hunt, we gave Middlebury Interactive Languages a try.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online curriculum that uses a multi-faceted, immersion-like approach to teaching the following four languages:

They offer courses developed by experts in linguistics and academia (smart people) for elementary, middle school, and high school, including advanced placement. As I already said, (but maybe you weren’t listening because a bit of fluff flew in your ear), we are using High School Spanish II Fluency. If you would prefer information on one of these other languages or levels, feel free to click on the banner below and you’ll be whisked away to the Homeschool Review Crew’s numerous other reviews on these language courses. I believe the reviews are all written in English, so never fear if you’re still one-lingual…er, monolingual:

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
The Middlebury courses teach language and culture by incorporating reading, writing, speaking, and–the toughie for me–listening. This four-faceted approach enhances the learning experience and solidifies the language in the students’ heads…hopefully.

Each level is age-appropriate, with the earlier levels focusing more on vocabulary and growing in complexity as they advance. Makes sense, right? Many levels also have the option of teacher support.

The course we are following is specifically designed to increase communication skills and cultural understanding, as opposed to a strong grammar and usage focus on a scholastic level. This suits us, because of our Spanish exposure in the mission field as opposed to the academic world.

The fluency course involves quite a few real people–they’re only on the screen, so none of them will be coming over and eating your cookies. They are real teens telling you real things at, unfortunately for my ears, real speed.

Because my family has already studied Spanish for over a year, we are ready for level II at a grammatical and vocabulary level, even at a reading and writing level, but where we struggle is with the listening. When I speak Spanish with my kids, I’m not exactly Speedy Gonzalez. Listening to and watching videos of native speakers talking in Spanish is exactly the element our Spanish studies have been missing.

I was tempted to back up and take the second semester of Level I instead, but honestly, we know all that stuff already. What we really need is the hard stuff–comprehending the native speakers. So instead of backing up, we listen to the same videos over and over and over again until we could tell you exactly what Ana likes to do in her spare time and who Cristiano’s cousin is and who likes to play guitar and who likes volleyball. Ask us! We know.

The high school level is definitely challenging, but here’s the good news:
  1. We can do it, and if we can you can.
  2. You do not need to know Spanish (or any language) to use these courses.
  3. If you select the wrong course and aren’t able to keep up, talk to the folks at Middlebury about backing up. It is my understanding that they will help you find where you belong.
  4. The course is self-paced (within a total timeframe), so if you need to watch, for example, Ana’s video 75 times, you may and you can. You can also clear all the answers on your examinations and practice pages and do them again and again and again. That way, you can exercise your weak area and level out your skill set–that’s fancy talk for “get better at Spanish.”


Here’s my overall impression of this course:

I’m an old dog. Understanding Spanish speakers is a relatively new trick, something I’ve struggled with since I started studying languages decades ago. In fact, I pretty much bombed my oral French examination when I lived in England–writing: good, reading: fantastic, vocabulary: no problem, listening: fail! (Note to other French students: when the professor asks where you are from in the States and how long you have been studying in England, don’t tell him you like trees and horses and definitely don’t ask him if you can have bread and cheese for breakfast.)

In all my Spanish studies, the part that was seriously lacking was listening. This program is not as good as having an excellent Spanish-speaking cook move into the travel trailer with us, but it takes up a lot less space. In fact, it takes up no space at all. And it offers the one segment of language training that we are missing–listening. At the risk of sounding even more redundant, the repetitive listening has helped get a better feel for the sound of the language…although I wouldn’t cry if there were subtitles and I could cheat. That is the challenge with immersion courses–what on earth are you people telling me to do?!

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

I had trouble figuring the course out at first from a technical level, and I don’t like that. The boxes on the left, the big screen on the right–it confused my Olde School Brain. But once I got rolling, I was A-okay. In fact, I like it. I like the gentle approach to useful grammar, the emphasis on listening, and the useable vocabulary. Most everything we’ve heard so far is something we would say in a legitimate conversation.

And here’s the ultimate compliment: we’re continuing with this course beyond the review period. We are going to finish as much of this course as we can in the next year. I doubt we will complete the whole 90 lessons, because we are slooooooow pokes. You, however, are probably a little speedier.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Three things for my fellow roadschoolers:

Uno: This program teaches fluency. That will be useful to you if you choose a language you need in an area you are traveling. The other programs deal more with academic language learning, and that’s great, too, but if you want to learn the culture and be able to chat over quesadillas, this is great!

Dos: This program takes up no space, because it is completely online.

Tres: This program needs a solid internet connection, which we didn’t have for a chunk of the review period, which is probably part of the reason we didn’t “get it” at first. For the more recent days when the connection is rapido, everything has run smoothly. Still, the amount of time we spend without a speedy connection affects our ability to use the program. Boo.

Do I still recommend it? Yes, I do, at least from what I’ve seen so far in our slow and unsteady approach in the high school fluency course.

Enough from me. Go visit Middlebury in the social realm on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Crew Disclaimer

Poetry Study and Spiritual Growth with George Herbert

Take note, loyal readers! We were given a copy of Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. from Everyday Education, LLC in exchange for this review.

Other reviewers were given the same, or they reviewed Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting for elementary or remedial learners (or me–my handwriting needs help, so I realized in the grocery store when I couldn’t tell if I needed colostrum or a caboose…so I bought chocolate) and Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, for high school into college. If you want to see what they have to say, click on the banner below. If you want to hear what I have to say, well, good people, you’re in the right place!

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

Now, I know I said that this is a fair and unbiased review, but I have been a Janice Campbell stalker for a long time. Her sight, Everyday Education, shares her experience as a homeschooler of four boys who have already graduated…so you’re not getting a preschool mom’s views on teaching teens–pet peeve! Her approach is a Charlotte Mason approach, combined with some Jeffersonian education and classical. What that boils down to, for those of you who think I just spoke a foreign 0language, is no busy work and no dumbed-down reading.

I love her perspective and her articles. I think that might taint my perspective just a bit…don’t you? I don’t care! If you care, stuff a cookie in your mouth–that will make you feel better.

This is what she gave us:
Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

The idea behind Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert is that it is both a spiritual exercise and a lesson in poetry analysis.

Who is this Herbert guy?

Herbert is a British poet and rector from the 17th century. You may have heard him quoted by the likes of C.S. Lewis and Jan Karon, two personal faves of mine. Any friend of Lewis and Karon is a friend of mine! His poetry was published posthumously by a friend. Herbert asked his buddy to read his poems and do something with them if he thought them worthy, but no if they weren’t. What a lesson in humility!

Herbert’s poetry delves deeply into the relationship between God and man, which is where the spiritual growth aspect of this piece comes in. Each poem serves as a launching pad for Biblical discussion and spiritual growth. (When I say “spiritual,” I don’t mean how people mean it today–I mean a relationship and understanding of the true Triune God as presented in Scripture, both Old and New Testament. I’m not getting all New Agey on you.)

What can I do with this book?

The book’s intention is also to help readers understand poetry…and Herbert’s isn’t exactly the easiest to understand, so it’s definitely a study! The methodology you’ll learn to understand it can be applied to any poetry you read…and write, I might add!

The author created a study by breaking each poem down like this:

  • The Big Picture–what the poem is about
  • The Parts of the Picture–breaking it down to look at the stanzas, poetry techniques, and other details
  • The Parts of the Picture Come Together–the flow of the poem, basically. That’s not a good explanation. Basically the overall flow of thought
  • Reflections–questions to get you thinking
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection–self-explanatory

If you study it weekly, it will take you a year to work through the 51 works. I recommend taking a year and a half or two, so poetry is enjoyed and not forced down your children’s throats. MY kids love poetry, but not all are the same.

I also recommend using a few of these pieces as memory and copy work. They would look beautiful printed neatly and framed. I do encourage you, from time to time, to have the children imitate Herbert’s style and write poems of their own on similar topics. You may well be amazed and ignite a spark in your children.

I don’t recommend this as your child’s first exposure to poetry. If, however, your children have enjoyed simpler poetry, this is a most excellent method of taking it to the next level. With a poet in the family (our Hannah), I love how this shows ways you can use poetry to God’s glory, which she strives to do also, by the way.
Roadschoolers, this is a digital download, so you can pop it on to your devices when you have the opportunity. No space, no constant internet access…hooray…unless you’re old school like me and prefer a book in hand, which, sadly, takes up space. I know, my life is full of inner turmoil. Wink wink.

Get to know Janice Campbell a bit better through social media, if that’s how you roll. The links are below:

Remember, you can read what other reviewers have to say about this and her other products through this banner right here:

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}


Crew Disclaimer




Apologia Astronomy — Homeschool Science Review

Apologia Educational Ministries gave us Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition in exchange for this review. All opinions are mine, my kids’, and the cat’s…because she had to be the sun when we were demonstrating orbits.

They sent us the following pieces:

    • Student Text
    • Notebooking Journal
    • Jr. Notebooking Journal
    • Audio CD

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review

Apologia in General

Apologia (pronounced ap-ol-og-ee’-ah and spelled ἀπολογία in Greek) means a speech in defense or a well-reasoned reply. Apologia’s series of science books works to prepare children to defend the Creationist viewpoint both Biblically and scientifically. The goal is for them to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks.” (I Peter 3:15) The astronomy book is one of many which carries the children far toward this goal.

Our children have met much resistance in the world to their Creationist views, but they have either been able to respond intelligently, or thoughtfully questioned, contemplated, discussed, and researched, so they would be more prepared the next time around. It is not solely through Apologia texts that they have come to this point, but they are a strong piece in the puzzle.

The Textbook

This is the second time I’ve taught this course to my children. Of all the science classes I’ve taught, this has been my favorite…with the sole exception of following ants and chasing butterflies. Nothing beats butterflies.

This is an immersion course. Your kids will be studying astronomy for a year. They will know far more about astronomy than I did when I was their age–that’s awesome.

We are Charlotte Mason style schoolers. While Astronomy is a textbook, it is not written in a dry manner. It doesn’t read like a Henty novel or Beatrix Potter, but it’s definitely interesting.

I particularly appreciate that each lesson is broken down into short segments, so I “feel” like I’m “doing it right.” (I know that as a homeschooler I can do whatever works best for my family, but it’s nice to be “normal” once in a while instead of always reinventing the wheel, you know? I mean, we roadschool 8 kids in a travel trailer as we tour the country singing and playing guitar–normal doesn’t describe us too often.)

After each short segment there is a narration cue, basically telling the students to explain what they’ve learned. Sometimes my kids will write the narrations, but most often, they just throw it out there and I just listen.

At the end of each lesson you will find bigger activities and some scientific documentation. These are fun, but you don’t have to do them if they become overwhelming. We usually pick one and sometimes all, but sometimes we skip everything and make cookies…shaped like planets or chewed into the phases of the moon, so it’s educational.

The lessons take about two weeks–no need to rush either. It’s broken up into a comfortable pace.

Your children will gain a thorough knowledge of astronomy through this course–I learned a lot! It is not, however, a “memorize the stars and constellations” course. If that interests your family, it’s easy to add in. This course will teach you, not just give you memory work.

When I taught the older set of four girls, we used Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 1st Edition. That was all we used, apart from some supplies we dug up at home. You can successfully teach this course with only the textbook. That’s something I really like about Apologia Educational Ministries; you don’t need all the additional components. The text is enough, which makes it more budget-friendly.

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition is updated, so you won’t find nine planets in the solar system. (Are you weeping with me? I know, my whole childhood was a delusion!) It’s a little different than I remember the 1st edition, but my brain is still stuck on that Pluto thing, and my 1st edition book is stuck in a storage unit in Nevada with all my other books (outright sobbing now), so I can’t tell you exactly how. I can tell you that the information has been updated (the 1st edition is from 2004). Also, the photographs seem to be better in this version. Overall, it seems more sleek and user-friendly. But…poor Pluto.

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review


I have taught some Apologia courses using the notebooks and some without. The first time I taught astronomy, the notebooks didn’t exist. Currently, my 10-year-old son Elijah is using the regular notebook. For him it is excellent. He works very independently and does as much as he possibly can for each lesson before we even study the topic.

The notebook contains copywork, writing space, activities, and some crafts, all at or above around a 4th grade level. It is still definitely useful for 6th or 7th graders, or maybe even an 8th grader who’s studying astronomy with you. My 8th grader is tagging along on the class until she’s ready to jump into her independent Apologia studies, but she opted not to do the notebook–at her level, some of it is busy work. Not so for the younger set. It’s ideal for my son, and helps him focus better than if he were staring at a blank notebook.

The assignments, activities, and suggestions are included in the notebook. There is also a schedule so you can open and go.

Unfortunately, there are a few things mentioned in the notebook that the kids can’t do without purchasing another related set from Apologia which contains supplies for the experiments and activities plus bonus activities. The fact that those bonus activities are listed in the notebook is unnecessary, in my judgmental opinion. Basically my son got to that point and said, “I can’t find this section,” and I said, “That’s for the rich kids.” Okay, that’s not really how it went down, but that is how I feel when there are teasers like that and my 5th out of 8 kids really wants to do the extras and I opt to feed him. Other than that it’s all good.

The astronomy notebook is consumable. While I usually try and figure out a way not to consume a consumable (no, we don’t photocopy), Apologia science notebooks are an exception. The work should be done right in the notebook. It will make an excellent review and keepsake, and is really a nice product. My kids have all kept theirs over the years…somewhere in a storage unit in Nevada.

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review

Junior Notebook

I was pretty excited when Apologia came out with their junior notebooks. They are targeted to kindergarteners through 3rd graders, but I find my kids are ready around 2nd grade. These are very similar to the regular notebooks, but they are less writing intensive, and some of the activities are bumped down to their levels (not dumbed down). There are, for example, coloring pages with Bible verses, as opposed to lined pages asking them to record their thoughts. The activities are either the same or related, so you can teach the course to the entire family, and the kdis can do different pieces of work at their levels.

Again, the activity suggestions in the text are spelled out in the text book and the student is guided along in the notebook, which again is easier than if the child were doing the work in a blank notebook.

We are using this with Rebecca, our 2nd grader. When it’s finished, it will be a nice keepsake of her year in astronomy. She’s keeping up quite well. This, too, is consumable, and I feel it’s even more important at Rebecca’s age to use it as it was intended.

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review


Apologia also sent us the CD of the book. This is excellent if your voice can’t take all the reading that a lifestyle of literature-based homeschooling requires. And it’s read by the author, Jeannie Fulbright. There’s something about a piece when it’s read by it’s author. It has more…life to it, don’t you think?

Here are my thoughts on using the CD. As much as I love it, I don’t use the CD. Why? Because we have about as many discussions as there are stars in the solar system (slight exaggeration) during a single lesson. This is in part due to my pausing to ask or take questions. Often they’ll be discussing something and my reading it would only be redundant. So, since the lessons are nice and short and do not take a toll on my voice, I stick with reading.

Still, I really truly appreciate this option, especially for when I’m not available.

Again, you only need the book to teach this entire course. The rest are just extra perks. Please don’t feel badly if you can’t afford everything. If you can add the notebooks, great! If not, your kids will still benefit tremendously from this program. My first four didn’t have the notebooks or the CD and we loved our year of Apologia astronomy!

Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:

Space space space. You hear me harping about that all the time! Yes, these books will take up space, and if you do the experiments, that will take up more space. I don’t know if you want planets hanging from your 7-foot ceiling for nine months. If you don’t, pop them after a week. Blame the cat.

The text itself is quite thin–not thin on information, but just, you know, thin. It’s hard cover, so it’s durable. The notebooks are thicker and not as durable. They can take a slight beating, but they’re certainly not made of steel. Also, did I mention they are thick? They are.

As far as CDs go, we toss our cases and keep everything in a joint case, so it’s no biggie here…except we’re out of space. Of course, if you’re roadschooling and your CD player in your vehicle works (unlike ours), this would be perfect!

You know your kids and their put-away talents. You also know your space limitations. Personally, I feel Apologia texts are worth the space and, for this age group at least, the notebooks are worth their weight as well. Before we were offered this review opportunity, we were going to dig up our 1st edition astronomy text when we swung through Nevada this fall–it’s that good.

Social Media Links:

Apologia is very encouraging on social media. I particularly enjoy following Jeannie Fulbright on Instagram.
Twitter: @apologiaworld

Read what other Schoolhouse Reviewers have to say by clicking here or on the banner below:

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition Review

TOS Crew Review Disclaimer





How to Homeschool Preschoolers and Kindergarteners: 18 Tips for Creating a Natural and Joyful Learning Environment

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something through one of my links, I receive a portion of the proceeds. It costs you nothing, but it helps us buy schoolbooks, because, believe it or not, kids don’t stay preschoolers and kindergartners forever.

How to Homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten: 18 Tips for Creating a Natural and Joyful Learning Environment

I shared with you my big-mouthed opinion on pushing young children beyond their readiness levels. What you should be asking at this point is “Who are you?! Who are you to be saying this? Do you have a degree in education? Do you have a title?”

Good question. I’m glad you asked.

I do not have a degree in education. For what it’s worth, I have a triple major in English, communication, and communicative arts (whatever that is), but that’s not what qualifies me to write this post..although it does help me properly punctuate this post. What qualifies me is my “experience in the field” of homeschooling little ones–sixteen years of it. For over sixteen years we have been creating a natural, enriching learning environment for our kids, and, yeah, while they’re all a little weird cuz the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they all have an unquenchable love of learning.

How do we do it?  How do we ensure that our littles are growing in wisdom, knowledge, and a love of learning through their early years?  In other words, how do we “do preschool and kindergarten” at home? I’m glad you asked.

18 Tips for Creating a Natural Learning Environment for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

In random order, because random is fun.

1. Read together daily.

I cannot overestimate the value of sitting together and reading. It doesn’t have to be a formal reading session. Some days it can be as simple as saying “yes” when a little one brings a book or reading a favorite bedtime story every night. Some tips:

  • Become regulars at the library, but not during flu season if you have a book-licker or a nose-picker.
  • Give books as gifts to build up your library within your current budget.
  • Follow along with your finger as you read so they see that words have meaning, and they begin recognizing some of them.
  • Don’t shy away from chapter books or non-fiction. They don’t bite…except for maybe that pop-up shark book.
  • Gradually get rid of the dumbed-down books. Your children are apparently smarter than the people writing the children’s books. Adios, Disney!
  • Repeat your child’s favorite books or poems often to teach memorization skills.
  • Don’t worry if your child can’t sit through a simple picture book or you can’t get past the first page because of all her questions. This is normal! Don’t make “finishing the book” your goal and lose sight of the needs and abilities of the child on your lap.
  • It’s okay to let your reading be the “background noise” as your children play, eat, or take a bath.
  • Don’t be afraid to read straight from the Bible with your littles. It was written for them, too.
  • For a bit more on this topic, read my post entitled Read Aloud to Your Children. It’s about reading aloud to your children…if you didn’t catch that.
2. Cook and bake together.

Children in the kitchen make a big mess and they slow you down, partly because your feet stick to the floor. Still, if you keep them out of the kitchen, they lose out on an excellent opportunity to learn this:

  • cooking skills
  • cooperation
  • following directions
  • safety lessons
  • developing a habit of follow-through and clean-up
  • strong work ethic
  • the joy of caring for and serving others
  • preparation for a future in which, chances are, they will need to eat.
  • basic math lessons. (When you’ve been doubling, tripling, or halving recipes in the kitchen for years, a worksheet full of fractions is a piece of cake! Mmm, cake.)

Keeping them out of the kitchen robs you of this:

  • an element of joy to your work
  • bonding time
  • over-easy eggs and toast, caramel apple pie, homemade bread, and fresh cookies made by (supervised) six- and seven-year-olds.

Bring it on!

How To Create a Natural Learning Environment at Home for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

3. Explore nature together.

This can be as simple as planting a pot of flowers and putting up a birdfeeder on an apartment balcony, or as elaborate as visiting national parks and homesteading. Take walks through parks, get good and dirty in a garden, or lie on your stomachs to stare at a square foot of earth. Follow ants, watch  butterflies, look closely at flowers, be observant with your five senses. Look up discoveries in field guides if the interest is there, but don’t force it. Keep this fun and informal as you wonder together in awe at God’s creation.

Help your littles begin the practice of keeping a simple nature journal–simple! For now, give them a blank notebook (check craft sections or office supplies) and let them “draw” what they see, draw it for them, take pictures, or press flowers and leaves. We sometimes tape treasures into their nature journal and cram it back into the book shelf to press it. (That is not the right way to do it, but it works for us. I use to use a flower press like this one, but…well…now I don’t. Uh, that’s an affiliate link.) We’ve even been known to smear interesting colored mud and dirt on a page or two.

To perk interest in nature when stuck inside, try classic stories like Beatrix Potter’s tales for the youngest set, Parables of Nature by Mrs. A. Gatty, Thomas Burgess’ Bird Book for Children and Animal Book for Children, Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories, and...somebody stop me! (These are affiliate links, although most of them are free.)


4. Teach your little one to do what you do.

Are you an artist? Teach her to draw or let her explore alongside you as you work. Are you a cook? Get him in the kitchen, even if he’s making stuff up. Are you a grocery list maker? Give her paper and pencil to make her own list. Do you work on the computer? Let him sit on your lap and press “Enter” when you need it, or open a notepad for him to type in. Break the big jobs down into something small that he can do alongside you. This is especially important for parents who may be gone during the day and find themselves busy with projects and “homework” at night.

 5. Answer questions.

I don’t know any child who isn’t full of questions, unless life has drained the God-given curiosity from his soul. When your child has a question, take the time to answer it or look it up together or “figger” it out. Say, “Hmm…I don’t know where that ant is going, but let’s follow it and ‘figger’ it out.” “Figgering” together is a great way to develop a curious mind that takes learning to the next step. By the way, “figgering” doesn’t always have to involve a book. Gravity can be figgered out fairly memorably with an egg and a tall ladder or an upstairs window. Yee haa!

6. Use big words.

When my firstborn was a baby she reached out for a knife. I said “Dangerous!” as I pulled her hand away. Someone scolded, “She’s a baby! She doesn’t know what ‘dangerous’ means.” No, kind Someone, but she will never know what “dangerous” or any other word means if she never hears it. Don’t shy away from the big words. Before you know it, your three-year-old will be lisping, “What an unusual piece of artwork!” or “Actually, I prefer white milk, thank you.”

How To Create a Natural Learning Environment at Home for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

7. Live life together.

Whatever is going on in your life is an opportunity for your child to learn. Are you headed to the dentist? Touch on tooth care and the job of a dentist. Are you counting out money? Let him help. Are you repairing items in the home?  Give your little one a safe tool and ask for help. Chances are you’re not going to find a preschool or a curriculum that includes helping Daddy fix a bicycle. Take him with you to the election booths, the grocery store, church, the bank, the library…everywhere! Feed him, give him a nap, tell him your expectations for behavior, wipe the peanut butter off his chin and bring ‘im with you. Yes, this is harder than going alone, but that’s parenting! Another part of parenting is training your child, so if the reason you don’t take him is because he doesn’t behave, make training a priority at home and away.

8. Hold real conversations.

Discuss big ideas with your little ones.  This sets the groundwork for an open flow of conversation throughout the years.  If you ask for and respectfully listen to your children’s views on a subject, you will encourage the children to begin to think. When I say think, I don’t mean parroting what their friends or the media says. I mean discern, rationalize, come up with fresh ideas…you know, think.

9. Be observant.

Do you see signs and numbers throughout your day? Point them out as early reading lessons. Do you see someone performing a job? Talk about it. Do you see a critter? Discuss its colors, behavior, and habitat. Learning is everywhere if you keep your eyes open.


10. Develop social skills naturally.

Take your littles to the library, to Grandma’s house, to the voting booth, to Bible study, and anywhere else you go. Don’t waste this opportunity by dumping your child in the nursery as soon as you arrive. Let your kiddos hang out with a mix of people from every generation. This is society; being able to function in society is being socialized.

Teach by example, but also by explanation and practice: “Hey, Kiddo, you’re four now, and it’s time to learn to shake hands like a man.” And then show him and practice. When you’re out, introduce him like a man and let him shake hands. It sets the stage for a teen who will look a person in the eye and say, “Nice to meet you,” rather than grunt at you with earbuds permanently encrusted in his ears. Ugh.

11. Be a learner.

I frequently hear,”I don’t know enough to teach my kids everything they need to know.” Wow, that’s a shocker. Hello! Nobody does! That’s why you teach your kids to teach themselves, and you do this first and foremost by setting the example. Exemplify curiosity. Look things up. Ask questions. Wonder out loud. And do this with your child.


12. Play.

Play together. I don’t mean Barbies…unless you want to. Play chess, blocks, hopscotch, 20 questions, I spy, dollhouse, cars.

Also, let your child play alone so she can develop self-motivation and a bit of independence.  Fill her life with a small number of excellent toys and puzzles (we love Lauri puzzlesaffiliate link). Aim for quality, not quantity. In fact, keep it simple. Keep it simple! A child in a room full of toys will fill a room full of mess. A child with two cars and a pile of blocks will fill his head with big ideas. So will a child with a pile of dirt and a few sticks. Don’t paralyze their imaginations and make cleaning up an overwhelming agony by filling their lives with too much stuff.


13. Dabble in foreign language.

If you are fluent in a foreign language, use it…all the time. Most of us aren’t so lucky, but that’s no reason to throw in la toalla. Libraries and used curriculum sales generally have foreign language materials. Some pricier companies, like Rosetta Stone, offer samples that are fun for kids. Online apps, games, and lessons are readily available as well. Incorporate the words you learn into your daily life. Your child won’t become fluent in this manner, but he’ll get a great head-start.

 14. Explore art and music.

However possible, expose your child to the greats and let him copy them. Get a Bach or Tchaikovsky CD from your library or online and listen while your child colors or plays.  (My kids enjoy the Classical Kids collection. Again, sneak it in budget-wise by giving it as gifts for birthdays and Christmas.) Attend local free concerts. Sing patriotic songs, folk music, and hymns with your child, and encourage him to explore a variety of musical instruments that you can pick up at garage sales or as toys, or make your own.

Hunt for books or calendars containing the art of the masters and mention who drew or painted the pictures. Keep a ready stash of art supplies for your children to explore at any time. Replicate the masters, or get a Dover coloring book about an artist of your choice.   It doesn’t have to be structured to be effective.

15. Get rid of the desk notion.

Who needs desks and chalkboards and stations? What’s wrong with the floor? Come on, what’s more fun, sitting on a hard chair with pencil in fist, circling the bigger rectangle and the bigger ball on a worksheet, or lying on your stomach on the floor building a house, and then a bigger house out of blocks with Mama? Do a little over and under talk for some spatial recognition training, and you’ve had school, bonding, and playtime. Add cookies and call it lunch.

How To Create a Natural Learning Environment at Home for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

16. Do a little school.

But didn’t you just say…? Yes, I did. At this young age workbook school is fascinating to some children. Take advantage of that! Here are some items that were well-loved in our home (most of these are affiliate links):

Keep it short and pressure-free, and stop before their interest fades. Remember, your goal is creating a lifelong learning attitude, not finishing a book or impressing Grandma. Sorry, Grandma!

17. Don’t rush!

There will always be a child smarter, faster, or more talented than yours. That’s just life. (Pick yourself up off the floor.) While life does involve competition, don’t let it pressure you into rushing your little one into things he simply can’t do yet. The only thing your speed will accomplish is burn up your kiddo’s tires like an Indie car. Don’t let the expectations of others or yourself drive you to squelch the precious love of learning innate in children.


18. Don’t worry about the gaps!

If you are afraid your preschool-aged child is missing something vital by not following a pre-planned curriculum or being taught by the professionals, just relax.  A young child whose life is rich in experiences, real life learning, and the respect and attention of a loving family will in no way be hindered academically or socially. Yes, your child will miss something. We all have gaps in our learning, including those of us who have been in the system since age two. Instilling in your little one a love of learning, however, will give him the ability and desire to bridge those gaps when necessary, a skill many of today’s adults don’t have. It’s not the job of education to give children all the knowledge they’ll ever need in their lives.  It’s the job of education to give children the skills to gain that knowledge for themselves.

How do you create a natural learning environment for your preschoolers and kindergartners?


Is Homeschooling Your Preschooler or Kindergartner Stressing You Out?

Caution: This post contains my rather strong opinion. Proceed with caution.

It happens every fall. Homeschooling mamas and papas second-guess their decision to keep their preschoolers and kindergartners home. Concerned parents lament that their three-year-old preschoolers are not thriving with the expensive curriculum they bought to “do preschool.” Some are certain their four-year-olds are educationally doomed, while others wonder if they should try other curricula or enroll their five-year-olds in a “real” school with “real” teachers and a “real” chalkboard that mama didn’t make with old plywood and chalkboard paint during nap time. Parents groan that if preschool or kindergarten requires this much work, they will never make it through grade school, much less—GASP!—high school!

I don’t like to give advice (bold-faced lie), but I’m going to anyway. Mama…Papa…


Is Homeschooling Your Preschooler or Kindergartner Stressing You Out?

Please, sweet Mamas and manly, but caring Papas, breathe! Now breathe again. Now go eat chocolate and come back.

Feel better? Good. Now here’s the scoop, and I’m saying it like it is with no apologies. You have been twice warned.

First of all, preschool? What’s that?

Technically, it’s supposed to be getting a child ready for school, thus the prefix “pre-” meaning “before.” Somehow it has morphed into sending a child to school so she can get ready to go to school. It’s like pre-birth. Hey, unborn baby, let’s be born early so you can practice breathing oxygen. Maybe that will make you more ready to breathe when you’re really supposed to be born and start breathing. Prepping for school is what kindergarten used to be for. When I say kindergarten, I mean for six-year-olds, maybe five-year-olds, not three- and four-year-olds. That’s still preschool playing pretend with a more grown-up name. Am I opposed to preschool? No. But where do you draw the line, people?

Second, what’s your rush?

Why does your child have to be reading before anybody else’s child? Why does he have to be doing the big math and reciting what a noun is before, say, my kids? What is the rush? Do you enjoy adding additional stress and frustration to a potentially beautiful life of learning? Will pushing your son beyond his readiness result in an enthusiastic, lifelong learner, or will it frustrate you and your children and create yet another student who is burned out by fourth grade and never cracks another book once he has his diploma stuffed into his back pocket? Ask yourself if you’re doing this for your babies or for yourself and your personal homeschool critics. (Yeah, we all have a peanut gallery of critics.)


Third, you’ve got it all backwards!

Have you noticed the trend in the “better” schools to try and emulate the home environment? That is because the experts are finally realizing that children learn best in a natural setting. Come here, experts, so I can smack you in the forehead. Children learn on Papa’s knee and walking hand in hand with Mama. That’s how they learn to walk, to talk, to eat, to breathe (oh, wait, nobody has to teach them that in pre-birth). That’s how they learn their colors and counting. That’s how they can learn reading and grammar usage and even foreign languages. That is not how they learn calculus. Parents that take the natural learning environment and turn it upside down are recreating the school in the home…the school that is now trying to recreate the home in the school. It’s like if you draw a picture of yourself drawing a picture of yourself drawing a pic—you get it. Yeah, my head is spinning.

Mama, Papa, please, please, please relax.

Please give your child plenty of time to sit on your lap and follow you and learn from you. Please let your little ones play with rocks and colors and follow ants and build forts. Please don’t prioritize your daughter’s workbook-learning over precious life-learning by your side. Please don’t force your active little boy to sit with a pencil in hand in a chair for two hours a day while you pull your hair out because he can’t write his name. Who cares?! When he’s older, he’ll write his name! Simple as that!  Please enjoy these precious early years without squeezing your family into an educational box that someone only recently created and announced as good. It’s not good. It’s just a box. Outside of the box is life!


Some of you are saying, “But my daughter loves workbooks!”

So give her workbooks! Do what works. But if your four-year-old could be in the kitchen cooking with you or planting her own garden, and you’re forcing her to sit at a table writing “Aa” 25 times instead, in my opinion, something’s wrong. If your six-year-old son wants to replicate the four-mile Astoria Bridge out of Legos or “help” Papa change a tire and you’re making him do three pages of addition first, in my opinion, something’s amiss. In my opinion, it’s complicating life to force a small child to do “table work” for 45 minutes, when you could instead wait until he is developmentally ready, teach the same information in five easy minutes, save frustration and tears, and not rob the child of the joy of learning. Not to mention, you can redirect those hours of lesson-planning for your children into time spent with your children. That right there is why I had children, to spend time with them, not plot out a life for them.

Now you say, “But kids need to learn to do hard things they might not want to do, like writing and adding.”

True. But there are other hard things they need to learn that they may be more prepared to tackle at this point in their development, things like saying please and thank you and brushing their teeth and picking up toys and not throwing balls in the house and not cutting their own hair and not tattooing Mama’s legs with permanent marker if she falls asleep during reading time. Things like obedience and patience and sharing and helping siblings and not bullying. Things like chivalry and sitting quietly in church and the lesson 85% of adults still need to learn–the world is round, but you’re not the center. Why make it harder?


Of course, this in no way means that you can leave your child to his or her own pursuits, assuming learning will come naturally.  It will come naturally, but it may not be the learning you seek for your little ones. It’s up to you to create a rich learning environment and an atmosphere that makes learning happen naturally.

How do you do that? Good question!

Click here to read 18 of my simple curriculum-free, stress-free, guilt-free, fun-full, family-full, life-full approaches to the preschool and kindergarten years. Buckle your seatbelts, cuz you’ll be the fun parent climbing on the roof dropping eggs on the sidewalk instead of the parent reading about gravity in a book. Yup…that parent!

Oh, I know you all have one last question; “Did your kids ever learn to read with a Mama with this mentality?” Excellent question, Watson. Indeed, they did. One of my children could identify letters before turning two. Two sounded out short words at three. They all start reading aloud in family Bible time around six or seven…but it wasn’t always pretty. Are they naturals? Some, but not all. My son could sound out basic words, but really struggled with phonics and sight words at age five, so we shelved the phonics book. Every few months I would work with him again to test his readiness. Finally at six-and-some-months, BANG! He got it like he gets everything–a semi without brakes crashing into a mega-mall. Now we can’t keep him supplied with books, and at seven he volunteers to read aloud from Scripture at men’s Bible studies he attends with Daddy.


But who cares when they learned to read! What I should care about is if they are using that skill now. One of my girls struggled with her reading. She could read at five and the schools would have called her a success, but she didn’t read smoothly and with comprehension until she was around seven, and didn’t read comfortably with full understanding and enjoyment until around nine. Now she is my most voracious reader who is currently reading classics for fun and The Declaration of Independence for her personal enrichment and to be fully informed about the laws of our nation—I can think of a few (hundred) politicians and a few (million) voters who should do the same.

So yes, Watson, I taught my children to read without tears. And they didn’t cry either. I’ll let you in on another little secret. We don’t even own a chalkboard. Help yourself to some more chocolate.

This is where you get to tell your opinion.

While this is not a homeschooling blog per se, we are a homeshooling (or roadschooling) family, and I do discuss simplifying that aspect of life as well. If you’re interested in more homeschool posts, subscribe to my email updates and contact me with your questions or ideas for future posts.


Spanish Curriculum for Beginners–Easy as Tarta {Review}

While our favorite way to study Spanish is to hang out in the southwest parts of the USA and speak a little Spanglish with the locals every day, we currently happen to be a little further north and find the Spanish speakers a little less everywhere. That means it’s time to turn to the curricula. Coincidentally, Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids hooked us up with Starter Set 1 of their Spanish program in exchange for this review. Bueno, eh?

What is Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids?

The premise behind Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids (hereafter known as “it”) is that your students are on a flight to various Spanish-speaking countries. The flight attendant introduces the filmed segment and announces where you’re headed.

If you’re a good parent, you look the country up on the map, check some library books out, and make an ethnic meal. Then there’s me. Someone hit play, wouldya? (Did you just totally picture me in sweats with rags in my hair and my feet on a table with three mangy dogs chewing on our schoolbooks while the kids eat stale pizza and Spam from two days ago and I only move to scratch myself or shoo flies away from my beer with my stoagie? Yeah, I did, too. That’s not really me. We did look countries up on the map, but I didn’t make any ethnic meals…yet. And I don’t smoke stoagies…or anything…except the kitchen when I burn dinner…again.)

Next you launch into the everyday life of three brothers and their antics. Each brother has a different personality or interest which is represented by the shirts they wear, the props they carry, and the activities they undertake–like eating, reading, and playing basketball. The dogs have interests, too…like sleeping and stealing the kids’ desayuno (breakfast).

The conversation is entirely in Spanish…and entirely entertaining without being too terribly in-your-face like Dora the Explorer who yells all day long! It does elevate to that at times, but not too much…and it workds.

There is the occasional adult–only one that I’ve noticed, actually–but she is never fully seen. Only her voice is heard. Think Peanuts: “Mwa mwa mwa mwa mwa mwaaaa…” except in Spanish which probably sounds like mwa mwa mwa mwaaa if you are a bit rusty on your Spanish.

Starter Set 1 includes the following:

  • A DVD with three flights or levels
  • A separate teacher’s guide for each level, including lesson plans, DVD schedule, and extra activities.
  • Consumable workbooks for each level
  • Vocabulary flashcards and card games
  • Spanish stickers for all levels

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review
How do we use it?

The program is simple to use. At the bare minimum, you pop in the video and watch it. Easy peasy. You do not need to know Spanish to use this curriculum, and you don’t need to grasp each word the first time. It is expected to take several viewings to learn each word, which is good, because then the students are hearing the Spanish spoken repeatedly. If you don’t learn something just by viewing, you must have slept through class. Hey, I’m not judging. I totally need popcorn to stay awake through any film.

The program also includes stickers you can paste around your home so everyone in the family is seeing and learning the same words. That way you’re all using them and solidifying the language in your head forever! I know this works, because my brother and I did this when we decided to learn French 30-odd years ago–we can both ask where the telephone is in France, although, unfortunately, I still can’t understand a Frenchman giving us directions to the toilet.

If you don’t want stickers all over, or, as in our case, there are more stickers than you have worldly goods, use them in a sketch pad or notebook. Place the sticker at the top of the page and have the child illustrate the word. You could also play a game where you stick a previously unseen Spanish sticker on your forehead, and you have to guess what you are by asking other players questions about yourself…in Spanish. Try it!

The course also includes vocabulary cards, games, and ideas for further cementing those words into your vocabulary. It’s all explained in the included teacher’s guides–one for each of the three videos. Of course, the best way is to simply use the words all the stinkin’ time, but the games are a fun addition for the reluctant speakers.

What did we think?

Our 10 and under crowd think it’s fantastic. They even request it on non-school days. Points!

We already know Spanish and use it a bit (not extensively by any means), so some of us knew quite a few of the words that we were taught in the first two of the three videos in the series. Three pushed them a bit more. The words they did not know have been solidified by watching the short videos again and again.

After reviewing the videos a few times, they have had no trouble whatsoever with the workbooks. As an aside, the workbooks are very high-quality with excellent printing, color, and images. I appreciate the variety of activities, the lack of parental involvement required in many of them (because the kids need to eat, right?), and the cultural and geographical information they include. Also, the pages don’t tear when a toddling brother steals them and hides them in the litter box. They wipe off easily, too. I wouldn’t mind more workbook activities–I know, I know. I’m the anti-workbook person and I’m totally playing both sides here. Hey, it’s situational.

The ages that are actively using the program here are 4 (and a half, Mommy! Tell them I’m four and a half!), 8, and 10…and a half. My older kids recently finished another Spanish program, but they’ve watched the videos once or twice and had a refresher on some topics…and a huge pronunciation and regional languages discussion.

What I like most of all is that this course includes the spoken language, so they are hearing the words, seeing them, speaking them, writing them, and sticking them…both around the trailer and in their brains. That’s really what sets this program apart from others and adds value for this price range. It’s natural and effective, and I’d love to go further in this curriculum.

A Simple Spanish Curriculum

A word about the extras:

I personally don’t like programs that have a lot of extras. Again, I know–I’m weird. But seriously, people, it’s just more stuff! Stickers, vocabulary cards-there are Spanish words everywhere! I’m even dreaming in Spanish! But wait. Isn’t that the point? To expose your children (and your own self) to Spanish so frequently that it becomes second nature?

Why yes. Yes it is. Point to the curriculum.

In this case, honestly, the extras work. The kids can do the vocab cards in the van, they can stick stickers to their hearts’ content, and when I say “Spanish time, chicitos!” they come running. Points for that, too.

A word about the videos:

These are not Hollywood Blockbusters, but they work. My younger kids enjoy them, and my older kids didn’t run away screaming or vomit on the screen. They are done well and my children are learning and hearing the words pronounced by someone who isn’t their mom.

A word about the pronunciation:

There are some words that are pronounced differently than I learned in my Mexican Spanish training. This obviously is due to pronunciation and word usage variations across the world in Hispanic speaking countries.

It is a little confusing if you already learned Spanish another way, but don’t even worry about broaching that at this point. Whether you pronounce the word “ella” as “elya” or “eya” or “edja,” no native Spanish speaker is going to scold you any more than a Nevadan might scold a Bostonian for “warshing” his hands.

Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:

There is no internet access required to use this program, because it is physical, so we’re good there.

It does, however, come with three teacher’s guides, three student workbooks, a DVD, and the extras. Everything, however, is very thin, so really, no worries. And when you’re finished with the teacher’s guide or not using a level, you can stow them someplace inaccessible. You’ll probably want to keep the workbooks and videos on hand for review.

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Last words:

You’re not going to be hopping a jet to Peru and speaking fluently after going through this Starter Set, because, hola!, it’s a starter set. You will, however, get your kids speaking some basic Spanish naturally, quickly, and painlessly over the next 20 weeks…although watching the breakfast scene is a little painful at times if you’re hungry.

Get connected:

You can find Foreign Language for Kids by Kids on Facebook here:




Find out what stationary homeschoolers think by clicking right here or on the banner below:

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

TOS Crew Review Disclaimer