Wednesday, March 27

Memoria Press - First Form Latin {Review}

As we enter the high school years, foreign language is something that we're looking into.  Our son is very interested in ancient history and has been stuck on learning Latin for a while now.  Neither my husband nor I know anything about Latin, so we kicked the can as long as possible....but when we had the opportunity to review this complete First Form Latin complete set from Memoria Press -- including Teacher Guides and DVDs -- we jumped at the chance.  After all, this looks like private instruction in your home....

The program components include:
  • Student book - There are thirty-four short, two-page lessons plus two appendices.
  • Student workbook - With lots of drill, my son thought there was too much writing involved here.  However, practice and repetition make for remembering.
  • CD - This has drill to help you learn the pronunciation and practice.  We used it in the car.
  • Flashcards - These include vocabulary, grammar, and the saying for each lesson.  They are good for in the car or quiz practice.
  • DVD - Another way to cover the lesson material, this is very fast paced, but is engaging.  This complements the student book.
  • Teacher manual - This includes the same text as student book, but with additional teacher text and guide, and is very helpful for those without any Latin background.
  • Answer key - The two-color format of this book makes it easy to find the answers quickly.

Honestly, it was all a bit overwhelming at first.  But after going through the various pieces of this set, we came up with the following schedule, and it ended up working really well without being overwhelming.
  • Monday – Read through the lesson and listen to the CD pronunciation
  • Tuesday – Watch DVD lesson and complete workbook pages 1 & 2
  • Wednesday – Listen to CD, complete workbook pages 3 & 4
  • Thursday – Finish workbook, use flashcards to study for quiz, listen to CD
  • Friday – Quiz / Test – review answers together

The DVD follows along with the student book, but also includes some additional tidbits on ancient Roman and Biblical history, which my son really enjoyed. The teacher covers the drill practice, introduces new concepts, helps with pronunciation, and puts the phrase in a context that is a little easier to comprehend. Watching the DVD is like being in the front row of a Latin classroom. One caveat, however - my son found the background image on the DVD lessons to be distracting. 

If your child hasn’t had any Latin instruction, I’d definitely recommend starting with Prima Latina or Latina Christiana. Even with a full year of Latin (from a different curriculum) under his belt, my son struggled with some of this course. The vocabulary and grammar concepts are introduced quite quickly, and it can be difficult to follow at times. We ended up slowing down the process – spending more time than I had originally intended – because of this.

Using all of the program components together is beneficial because it teaches to all modalities – visual, audio, and kinesthetic (writing those drills repeatedly) – which helps to reinforce the material being learned.

As a teacher with no Latin background, I appreciated the way the teacher materials were laid out. Having a copy of the student pages alongside the objectives and guide in the teacher manual makes it easier to help students with any questions. There are teaching tips included as well. In the appendix, you’ll find various prayers, Latin sayings, lists of oral drills, and the vocabulary list.
Once we got into a groove, it was easy to pull out and work for about a half hour each day on Latin. Some days are easier than others, and some lessons were easier than others. I attribute this partly to switching from one curriculum to another; there were some holes to fill that had probably been covered in Prima Latina (and weren’t in our other program).

I appreciated the little extras sprinkled throughout the text. For example, since he likes to draw, he would often copy maps and pictures and label them with Latin vocabulary. This isn’t part of the actual curriculum, but makes a nice additional component for children who are very visual! 
Further back in the course, there are translations and sections for Honors enrichment.  We didn't make it back to that section of the course during the time provided for the review, but we wanted you to see how the material progresses.

This class does fulfill the requirement for a full year of high school foreign language. It will also provide a stronger etymology base for those students looking to score higher on the SAT / ACT. It’s easy to teach, even if you have no Latin background, and the lessons are laid out in nicely-sized chunks. If your student gets really into Latin, they also have Second, Third, and Fourth Form Latin, for a natural progression of four years’ worth foreign language instruction!

See what others are saying about Memoria Press products at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerPhonics, Poetry & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}

Tuesday, March 26

We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge

***Pick up your FREE Activity Pack***

The Battle of the Bulge was the largest battle on the Western Front of World War 2.  It lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 16, 1945.  It was called the “Bulge” because the German troops formed a bulge in the Ardennes Forest, trying to push through the American defenses.

A surprise attack through this forest had worked out well for Hitler in 1940, and the Nazi situation was looking bad, so he tried to use the same tactic again...striking his enemy by surprise.  On December 26, the German ring around the town of Bastogne was broken by General Patton and his Sherman tanks.

The winter weather was slowing down the German advance, the roads were a muddy mess, and the Nazis were running out of supplies.  Both sides dug in for the long haul through the cold.  When weather improved, the Allied pilots began counterattacks against the Germans.  After a month of fighting, the battle officially ended.

The Allies lost 1/7th of their soldiers, but the Germans took a much bigger hit, with 1/5th of their soldiers dying during the battle.  This second major victory for the Allies helped to clench the end of World War 2.  Because of this outcome, Germany was defeated, and the end of war in Europe came, sooner.

Our spine novel is We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product Samples:

Get the entire World War 2 Bundle!


  • The Book Thief
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain
  • Number the Stars
  • The Winged Watchmen
  • We Were There at Pearl Harbor
  • We Were There at the Battle of Bataan
  • Island War
  • Red Stars
  • The Night Witches
  • Mare’s War
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion
  • Code Talkers
  • We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
  • The Light Between Us
  • We Were There at the Open of the Atomic Era
  • A Merry 1940s Christmas

Product samples:

Monday, March 25

Healthier Breakfast Options : Kefir

There's a new phenomenon showing up on the dairy aisle of even the most mundane grocery's a kefir revolution!  The products can be expensive, though, and maybe you haven't given it a shot yet.  Not to can make it at home for considerably less!

If you're a milk drinker, kefir is probably going to taste a little 'off' at first, but it's an aquired taste, and one that's well worth it!  Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. 

The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins. 

Make Your Own Kefir (for way cheaper than you can buy it!)
Makes 1 cup


1 cup milk, preferably whole fat (see Recipe Notes)
1 teaspoon active kefir grains (See Recipe Notes)
1 pint-sized glass jar
Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin
Small strainer (preferably plastic, but metal is ok)
Storage container with lid


Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kefir and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kefir and weaken the grains over time.
  1. Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.
  2. Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.
  3. Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it's ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn't fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).
  4. Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you'll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.
  5. Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
  6. Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

  • Activating Dried Kefir Grains: If you bought your kefir grains in a dried form, rehydrate them by soaking them in fresh milk at room temperature. Change the milk every 24 hours until the grains begin to culture the milk and make kefir. It may take 3 to 7 days for the kefir grains to become fully active.
  • What Milk to Use: Kefir works best with whole-fat cow, goat, sheep, or other animal milk. You can use low-fat milks, but refresh the grains in whole fat milk if they stop fermenting the kefir properly. Raw and pasteurized milks can be used, but avoid ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milks.
  • Making More or Less Kefir: You'll need about a teaspoon of grains to ferment 1 to 2 cups of milk. You can also ferment less milk than this, but fermentation will go more quickly. Your grains will start to multiply over time, allowing you to ferment more milk if you like. Maintain a ratio of about a teaspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk.
  • Taking a Break from Making Kefir: To take a break from making kefir, transfer the grains into a fresh container of milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.
  • What to Do if Your Kefir Separates: Sometimes kefir will separate into a solid layer and milky layer if left too long. This is fine! Shake the jar or whisk the kefir to recombine and carry on. If this happens regularly, start checking your kefir sooner.
Other Ways to Use Kefir

  • Use as a substitute for buttermilke
  • Soak your grains in it, to release more nutrients
  • Mix with herbs for a salad dressing
  • Substitute it for milk in ice cream (we have not tried this one yet)

Tuesday, March 19

Drive Thru History - Acts to Revelation {Review}

Teen boys aren't the easiest ones to get into Bible study or Biblical history, but Drive Thru History® videos get the job done! Recently, we watched Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation", which, as the title would indicate, is all about the these books of the New Testament. 

Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" has 18 episodes in the series - each is half an hour long – and it also includes an accompanying study guide. Our boys are in middle and high school, and while they have both thoroughly enjoyed Drive Thru History in the past, it was really the older one who enjoyed this particular series. It is geared more toward adults and older children, and isn't as goofy as some of the earlier Drive Thru History videos, such as the Ancient History or Revolution series. That’s not to say that the younger one didn’t like it, but some of the material was over his head, and since it wasn’t as goofy as previous series, it was less entertaining for him.

Our one son who is very much into archaeology and ancient history really loved the series. He learned “how to cross-reference history books with the Bible” (his words), and was very excited by that! While the main focus is Biblical history, and the teachings of the disciples, there is also a lot of timeline work and archaeology incorporated into this series.

The series centers around the first Christians, in the time right after the crucifixion, as told primarily through the Book of Acts and letters from Paul. Other important figures in history, such as Peter, James, Silas, and Timothy - some of the earliest missionaries - are featured as well.

The film crew visited a multitude of sites throughout Turkey, Greece, Rome, and the islands of Malta and Cyprus as they delved back into time and connected the past with the present.  In addition to the boys, my husband and I, who both love to travel but haven’t made it very far overseas, both appreciated and enjoyed the virtual field trips and the beautiful cinematography of the footage….it really makes it feel as though you’re walking through these landscapes.

  • The Gospel Shared at Pentecost
  • The Church Grows in Jerusalem
  • The Gospel Spreads to the Gentiles
  • Saul of Tarsus & the Road to Damascus
  • Paul’s First Missionary Journey – The Island of Cyprus
  • The Journey Continues – Pamphylia, Galatia & Asia Minor
  • The Jerusalem Council & Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
  • The Second Journey Continues – Philippi and Thessalonica
  • A Road Trip to Athens
  • Ancient Corinth
  • Paul’s Third Missionary Journey -- Ephesus
  • Paul’s Final Trip to Jerusalem & Caesarea
  • Adventures at Sea – The Island of Malta
  • A Final Journey to Rome
  • The Martyrdom of Paul & Peter
  • John and the Island of Patmos
  • The Seven Churches of Revelation
  • The Book Closes on the New Testament Period
Study Guide
The 118-page study guide covers each of the episodes separately, and includes stunning photos, discussion questions, inspirational quotes, and ideas for further study. If you’ve been wanting to incorporate Bible study into your curriculum, but (a) the kids aren’t into it; (b) the material you’ve previously used seems dry; or (c) it’s just not at all engaging….then you should give Drive Thru History a shot!

Each of the lessons in the study guide begins with the title and a quote from scripture, set against beautiful photography.  This is followed by a summary of the episode.    The next page has discussion questions, scripture recommendations for further reading, more (relevant) photography, and a 'side road.'  These side roads are a favorite of my children, as they introduce historic concepts and archaeological finds.  The final page of the lesson is an exquisite two-page spread of the geographic area covered in that episode.  (The answers to discussion questions are found at the very end of the study guide.)

For an engaging religious studies class, this is the perfect series for middle and high school. It's informative and entertaining, and the narrator is just goofy enough to keep you wondering what will happen next! The cinematography is well-done, and the history is presented at an age-appropriate level for children to understand and adults to want to learn by their side.

See what others are saying about 
Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerDrive Thru History®

Monday, March 18

The Dragon Pearl & Korean Mythology

There are three types of myths in Korean culture - the shin, cheonseol, and mindam.  Shin stories are about ghosts or spirits, and are usually supernatural tales.  Cheonseol is based on Confucianism, and shows humans who rise above their station in life to challenge the gods.  These stories are often handed down, like folklore, and usually involve something that was left behind, such as a flower or rock.  Mindam stories might have someone overcoming a difficult situation through luck or trickery.  These stories are about common people.  Unlike western myths, the spirits in Korean myths are not always evil.  Life and death are considered part of the same process, and life can co-exist with death.

Creation story
The world did not exist until Yul-ryeo, a god, and the goddess Mago both appeared.  Yul-ryeo died, but Mago gave birth to Gung-hee and So-hee, two goddesses.  Each of the girls gave birth to two Men of Heaven and two Women of Heaven...these were the Heavenly People

Then Yul-ryeo was revived, and the earth, oceans, souls, fire, water, and earth were created.  These became the plants and animals of the world.  The Heavenly People ruled from a fortress called Magoseong, in honor of the goddess Mago.
shin                                shin                   spirit, god, divine, supernatural
hwahwa                    words, to talk
cheoncheon                    transmit, hand down
seolseol                                  to say, to speak
minmin                    people, mankind, folk
damdam                    to talk, to converse

For this unit, our spine read is The Dragon Pearl

Access the complete unit study in the World Mythology Unit Studies Bundle!

Includes sixteen unit studies covering world mythologies. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning ancient through modern history.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Thursday, March 14

DIY Greens for Pennies

One of my favorite ways to utilize the abundance of greens, which seem to come in feast or famine cycles, is by making greens powder.

Greens are considered one of the best sources of nutrition available. This can include any type of greens: kale, collards, beet greens, herbs such as parsley and cilantro, lettuce, and even weeds such as purslane, clover, and dandelions. 

They are very alkalinizing, meaning they help restore a healthy acid-alkaline balance in the body. But keep in mind that greens aren’t a replacement for other vegetables in your diet. It’s still vital to consume a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Making your own green powder has many advantages
  • it is a great way to use leftover greens
  • saves money - A LOT of money!
  • puts you in charge of knowing where your nutrients have been

Easy-Peasy Organic Greens Powder
  • Take off the stems. Thicker greens have stems that become quite hard when dehydrated, and can be difficult to turn into powder.
  • Dehydrate. Pop into a dehydrator for 4-8 hours, or in the oven at 200 for two hours. They shrink quite a bit, so put them close but not over top of each other. (This is my favorite dehydrator.)
    • Note : Cooking the greens reduces the amount of oxalic acid, which may be a good option for those with certain health conditions such as kidney stones.
  • Grind into powder. Then strain through mesh into a jar or into another container of your choice. Keep sealed and in a cool, dark place or a refrigerator to keep fresh.
Not ready to make your own yet?   Here are some of the best greens on the market :
Looking for more herbal wisdom from your garden?  Check out Simple Kitchen Fixes: Using Everyday Herbs.

Pick up the Homemaking & Homesteading Bundle in our Cottage Shoppe!  

The bundle includes twenty-four tutorials with background information for anyone who is interested in homemaking and homesteading. Topics are broken down into:
  • In the Kitchen – Fall & Winter
  • In the Kitchen – Spring & Summer
  • Around the Homestead – Inside
  • Around the Homestead – Outside
For more great homesteading fun, check out the Homesteading Course at SchoolhouseTeachers!

This homeschool homesteading course is designed for anyone who has a desire to live more independently and prepare much of what is needed each day using their own hands. In this elective course, the student can learn how to work for what they want by making it themselves, instead of participating in an “on demand” society. Homeschool students of all ages learn patience, along with the skills needed to make their own cleaners for the home, sunscreen, homemade ketchup and dry mixes, as well as how to choose animals and prepare for emergencies, and much more. Learning the patience and usefulness of “doing it yourself” can be immensely helpful not only in the sense of living a healthier life, but also for the budget!