Embracing a Healthy Family

Excelerate SPANISH Streaming by Excelerate SPANISH Review

Learning another language has been essential for having more options in our smaller world. Generations ago, the need wasn't there but now with everything being global and online, knowing another language can increase chances for certain jobs while enhancing traveling options. I never learned another language and regretted it. My oldest did learn German which made me envious. This is why I wanted to review Excelerate SPANISH Streaming by Excelerate SPANISH. As the program name implies, it is an online program. For this review, it will focus on the Level 1 and Level 2 curriculum for both myself and my youngest daughter. 

There are physical books which we did not review and I suspect they would be an asset to this program. There are free items available, however, such as vocabulary review and practice on Quizlet that correlate with the Excelerate SPANISH Streaming program. I found the free resources really helpful and allowed us to further our practicing of Spanish. It is expected to complete a lesson a week which seemed reasonable to us as it allows more opportunity to practice and learn.

Excelerate SPANISH

For Spanish 1, there are 24 lessons and the lessons are in a classroom setting. Each lesson averages around 45 minutes in length. It not just an audio program as the teacher utilizes a white board to write words to reinforce the verbal component. She speaks in a clear manner making it easy to follow. She also makes it engaging and not just a teacher who stands up in the front of the room to record.

As noted above, the extra freebies really helped to reinforce the videos. The online flashcards were of tremendous help to my daughters along with some of the other features to this website.

Excelerate SPANISH Streaming

There are students in the classroom to show participation that again, reinforces the learning aspect of the program. They helped act out the words/sentences thus further allowing one to absorb the lessons.

Each lesson (lesson 8 shown above) continues in the same format and builds on each lesson.

Moving towards Spanish 2, it definitely picks up with utilizing Spanish more frequently and forming sentences. There are a lot more interactive classroom participation from the students.

Each lesson included the teacher writing each vocabulary word and phrase on the white board. She will utilize a physical action to accompany the word to further emphasis the learning ability. 

Overall, the lessons are taught with humor and a lot of physical movement to include student participation. There are no continued repetitive grammar exercises or drills, rather it is taught in real situations...an immersion so to speak. It really resembles teaching a young child to speak English with all the hand and body gestures and repeating of words and pointing. It's a different way of teaching than what I've seen and I think it works quite well. The program would be also be good for adults and families.


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Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews}

Online Drawing Program by Creating a Masterpiece Review

We received a one year subscription to the online Drawing Program by Creating a Masterpiece which I really looked forward to given I have a house full of young artist. Recently, I took up rock painting as a new hobby and I even learned a few things. Our access included a variety of lessons such as: Beginning Drawing, Drawing 1, Drawing 2, and Drawing 3. Each section included instruction in drawing using pencil, colored pencil and charcoal. We created many masterpieces but for this review, I'm going to focus on a couple of different projects. The drawing above was done by one of my daughters after taking a few lessons and utilizing the techniques taught.


Lessons in Pencil: Tuckered out Turtle. 

Each project provides a button to see what supplies are needed and as a nice feature, there is a chart that provides how much supply is needed based on the number of students working on the project. Another nice feature is Sharon provides the products she recommends via purchase supplies link. You are not required to purchase from that link but it does provide you with what supplies you will need to purchase on your own. Below is example screen shots for the information I just mentioned:


I recommend reviewing each project ahead of time to obtain the supplies needed and to check out the videos if you won't be sitting with the student just to have an idea on how to guide and help if needed. There is a Helpful Tips section for each project that really is helpful. Sharon explains techniques and provides suggestions that are worth ensuring your student reads.


The projects have videos that teach the corresponding lesson. For Tuckered out Turtle, there were eight sections. The videos are just right in duration.  



Lessons in Pencil: Drawing the Egg

This was a project that seemed like it was easy and required little instruction. However, Sharon provides all the necessary techniques and suggestions that allows the student to not only draw but to understand different techniques such as why you might hold a pencil a certain way. The videos are taught in a manner that are easy to follow and clear to understand. They are broken into segments that allows the student to continue forward in one sitting or to stop pending each student's needs.

"Creating a Masterpiece lessons were easy to follow. I learned different drawing techniques and the teacher was easy to understand," ~Jamie.

"The lessons were short and didn't require a long time to get through each one," ~Danielle


I think the online Drawing Program by Creating a Masterpiece is a very good program to teach children and even adults how to draw using different mediums. The videos are paced just right to not be overwhelming and versatile to allow each student to proceed through each lesson. Sharon teaches in a manner which is not intimidating and uses encouragement and great tips on how to get the masterpiece you want.

We recommend the curriculum.


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Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Learning to Draw {Creating a Masterpiece Reviews}

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book 5 & 6 by WorthyKids Books Review

Several months ago, we reviewed two books in the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series by WorthyKids Books. Those two books were a hit in our house so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review 
Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd's Stone (Book 5) and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Lion's Roar (Book 6). The two books continue the time-traveling chapter book series and prepared my readers for the next book, book 7, which will be released soon. The soft cover books, 128 pages each, are inexpensive and are perfect for any children's library collection. They are recommended for ages 6-9 in grades 1-3.


Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd's Stone (Book 5) continues the adventurous story of Peter, Mary and their dog, Hank. This time, the children travel to Bethlehem thanks to the ancient scrolls they previously discovered. Their time travel puts them front and center to witness the well known epic battle between David and Goliath. If that wasn't enough, they are faced with solving a dastardly plot while fighting their way against their old enemy, Soldier of Darkness. 

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Lion's Roar (Book 6) continues from Book 5 and transports the siblings this time to the city of Babylon. Their battle this time is with a High priest who is plotting to push Daniel out of power. They experience all that Babylon has to offer from chariot races to temples to soldiers. Of course, no story will be right without the ol' familiar Soldier of Darkness.


  • The author, M.J. Thomas, perfects each chapter ending by leaving a cliff hanger thus keeping the children poised to read the next chapter.
  • The illustrations are simple and don't distract from the story. I think if they were in color, it might be more appealing to some but we were fine with the black and white illustrations. 
  • Each story not only teaches about the Bible but also provides life lessons.
  • Each book teaches you to face your fears, stand up with God and conquer any obstacle thrown your way.
  • At the end of each book, there is a list of passages from the Bible that the reader can refer to in order to learn more which we really liked.
  • The book was easy for my eight year old to read and understand.

Overall, we continue to love this series and recommend them. They are well written, adventurous and Christian oriented.

"They are exciting and full of adventure!" ~my granddaughter

"Every single night, she begged to read another chapter before bed."


Three winners will receive signed copies of the complete series. Click on the photo link below for more information.



Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd's Stone (Book 5) & The Lion's Roar (Book 6) {WorthyKids Books Reviews}

Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks by Brain Blox Review

My kids and grandkids love to play with building products but I had no idea how much they would love Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks by Brain Blox. They were so much fun from building whatever their imaginations thought of to even making a game out of them. They are also pretty cool in sneaking in some math practice and spelling while you play with them. They are made from solid wood with a precision cut that leave them smooth with no chance of getting splinters. They are also chemical free which is a bonus for me as there are enough chemicals in products that kids play with. The other cool feature to me is they are made of pine from New Zealand. My English grandparents moved to New Zealand after my mom married my dad and they moved to the States. 

The Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks arrived in a sturdy cardboard box and included a red canvas backpack, a color booklet of ideas along with information on the free eBook. Brain Blox provides a lot of great free resources too! From ideas on what to build downloadable cards to curriculum to videos and it's all FREE! They provide countless hours of fun that requires no iPad or other gaming system. I prefer to have avenues for the kids to utilize their imaginations while learning and developing problem solving and logical thinking. It's also good for dexterity and spatial awareness especially for the little ones. 

After we first opened the box, I let the kids do whatever they wanted to do and they built all sorts of things. They then ended up building a tower and took turns pulling out planks. They have had day after day of fun with them!

"I love them and you could do just about anything with them!" ~my youngest daughter

One of the things that interested me was the free curriculum, as noted above, which I utilized Levels 4-6.They call it Brain Blox University and they state that they are 'introducing early S.T.E.M. to children by helping them with spatial awareness through active building and thoughtful questions.' The curriculum includes a skills and concepts section and utilizes the Let's Build! Idea Cards which is also a free download. Here is a sample:

This is day one and they are each contemplating what to build:

The idea book was brought out for inspiration on this one:

This one was built by one of the children as a show stage:

Have to have a car ramp to make any building set complete:

The grandkids decided to try their hand at it another day:

A little educational fun:

How high can we get it??

The tall tower he's so proud of that he built all by himself!

Needless to say, they have enjoyed every day playing with the Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks by Brain Blox. It's a great way to incorporate some fun educational games and practice, or just to get their brains and imagination fired up! We loved them and highly recommend them!

"The planks were so much fun!" ~my oldest daughter

Also, read my other review for Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox.

To purchase, just click on the Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks link.


Follow Brain Blox on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.


Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks {Brain Blox Reviews}

My Fabulous Daughter the Self-Taught Cake Maker & Ovarian Cancer Survivor

When people think of homeschool, they don't always think of the way things really are. I think I was sort of ahead of the game when it came to homeschooling as 15 years ago, when my now 31 year old daughter started feeling out of sorts with the crowd at school, she wanted away from that bad influence. This is where I made the jump to take her out and find alternate ways to teach. We first started with a regiment plan of attending a course through Indiana University. After time, I chose the unschooling philosophy as she was the type that was already smart and could learn very easily. This flexibility allowed us to be more mobile and moves to places like New Jersey, Hawaii and Georgia were much smoother without the constraints of official school moves. Along the way, she was able to find subjects that interested her and with my own skills, she developed this into many different excellent skill-sets. She has battled ovarian cancer at a young age and is recently having issues with being able to carry a baby for whatever reason we don't know why but I tell her it's in God's hands.

Fast forward today, she's a very happy and fulfilled mother and housewife.  Yes, I said it. She is extremely happy being "just" a mother and a housewife. She does get caught up in the societal pressures that she must have a career and accomplish things outside the home like I did. I explained to her that being a single mother, I had to achieve that accomplishment to support her and later her other siblings. I also reinforced within her that success is many things and not just a paycheck or a title. Most of the time, she believes this and other times, I just smile and reassure her that she's a star and has the most important job of all and that is raising the future. Her children, now 9 and almost 5, are going to be upstanding, sound citizens and I couldn't be prouder! She's done it! She achieved what I call excellence as she's a fantastic daughter, a giving loving sister, a nurturing superior wife and mother. 

Throughout these many years, she has self-taught herself many skills such as sewing, cooking, baking and much more. She can make the most beautiful dresses and clothes. She can prepare an amazing feast and bake a killer cake. She also can do home repairs, lawn maintenance and she homeschools too. She does it all and quite frankly, she works harder than if she had an outside job in many cases. The whole point of this post was to showcase her cakes but as I started, I was pondering what a wonderful gift from God she is to all those she touches. She is simply amazing and I hope she believes in herself and recognizes what all that knows her knows.  

As my oldest, still my baby, continues on through life, I hope she knows how much she's loved and how talented she truly is! Thank you for looking at some of her amazing cakes and reading a bit about her very fulfilled life!

Britfield & the Lost Crown Giveaway on goodreads

If you had a chance to read our review of Britfield & the Lost Crown, you will know that it's a great book just on its own. If you homeschool or just want to add a bit more educational opportunities to your child(ren), there is a great study guide that accompanies the adventurous novel. Now on goodreads, you can also enter to have a chance to have your very own copy!  For my review, others in the  illustrious team for I review for received a signed copy from the author, C.R. Stewart and needless to say as my youngest put it, I was jelly!  

If you didn't get a chance to read my review, please click on this link to read why it's one of those novels you want to place on your own shelf.

To enter,  you have to login to goodreads and follow the instructions.

Our Review of Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox

My children and grandchildren love to play games as most kids do. My daughters also love to play chess as they were introduced to the game years ago by my beloved father. Since they still haven't mastered how to play, I jumped at the chance to review Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox. It's a fun, color-coded game system that allows you to learn as you go. What is also nice is you can play the Fun Family Chess way or revert to standard chess. The game is fully equipped with reference cards, a chess cube, a full color instruction book and of course the chess board and pieces which are made of wood. This seems to be a rarity anymore with many games made in plastic. This was even more special because their grandfather's chess set was made of wood too.

The folding carrying case holds everything and it's made of a nice velvet material inside with two velvet bags that holds each color of the wooden chess pieces. The chess pieces have nice felt bottoms which to me, rounds out how well this set is made. Every detail has been considered to make this a set that will be around for a long time.

As many know, chess isn't just for fun as it provides a chance to improve memory, increases problem solving abilities and helps with concentration. This set includes all you need to get the brain powered up along with creating a little competition! 

To play the Fun Family Chess, it's super easy and involves such a few easy steps:

  1. Each player places their pieces on the board as shown in the full color instruction book. The book is full of engaging illustrations, instructions and extra verbiage.
  2. The players are instructed to set out the Reference Cards and Chess Cube.
  3. As a note, the light side goes first by rolling the Chess Cube.
  4. The player will match the symbol from the Chess Cube to the same color on the Reference Card. A star rolled allows the player to move any piece they want.
  5. Based on the Reference Card's instruction,t he player will then move if they are able to. There are a couple of extra details that helps to explain situations based on pieces left on the board that you will have to buy the game to see!
  6. Players have to capture each other's pieces to move to the path of winning.
  7. The winner is the one that captures the other player's king which is similar to standard chess.

There are also instructions on how to play standard chess which does not involve using the Chess Cube, the player is not restricted in which pieces they want to move based on the Cube and Reference Card, pawns, once they make it to the other side, can be promoted to another piece, en Passant and Castling. I have to admit that I learned two things as I did not know what en Passant and Castling was.


This was a fun review for us and we loved the quality of the game from Brain Blox. The flexibility to play the Fun Family Chess way or the standard way was also nice. That flexibility of game level allows a young player all the way to adult. I would much rather my children play board games where they have to utilize brain power in solving problems and learn critical thinking abilities.

To purchase, just click on the Fun Family Chess link.


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Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

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