Monday, January 31

Travel the World with Drive Thru History's Ends of the Earth!

Teen boys aren't the easiest ones to get into Bible study or Biblical history, but Drive Thru History videos get the job done!  Dave's patented blend of goofy one-liners, physical humor, and his love of a multitude of cars has gotten my boys into all sorts of history over the past eight to ten years.  He doesn't just teach the well-known facts, either, he goes more into depth and really brings history to life for the students...

Drive Thru History definitely gets chalked up as one of those "things I didn't know we needed" until we stumbled upon part of a set at Goodwill oh-so-many years ago when the kids were in elementary school.  They've grown up with Dave as a supplementary teacher, and they're the better for it!  

In "Ends of the Earth," the videos are more mature, which is perfect for their teenage-status.  Dave is a little bit less goofy than usual (not to fear, it's still there), and the history lessons incorporate world history, geography, and world religions in an accessible format that is perfect for high school students and young adults.

Filming Process

While the series says it's a 20-parter, there are actually only 19 parts on the DVD.  That's because the crew was planning to head to Zambia for filming when Dave tested positive for 'rona.  Eventually the entire crew got it, too...yay!  Because of this, there is a 20th "bonus" episode that comes with your purchase, but is streamed online.  As much as we loved the video series, we adored this episode even more because it was a 'behind the scenes,' if you will, all the stories, jokes, and inside information about filming, the travel process, working abroad during the time of covid, and Dave's personal experiences and favorite memories.


The series centers around how Christianity made its mark around the world, but also touches on other major world religions and their tenets, too.  If you've been feeling trapped at home with the pandemic, these videos will boost you right into VIP Armchair Traveler status!  The film crew visited a multitude of sites from all over the world - all seven continents - 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.


  • Israel
  • Turkey
  • Central Asia
  • India
  • Southeast Asia
  • Philippines / Indonesia
  • UK / Ireland
  • North Africa
  • Central Africa
  • China
  • The Islands
  • Russia / Eastern Europe
  • Brazil
  • Oceania
  • Northeast Asia
  • North America
  • Northern Europe
  • Central / South America
  • Southern Europe
  • Mediterranean
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.

Other Series from Drive Thru History

While we've stepped away from the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year due to time commitments, in the past we were blessed to review several videos from the Drive Thru History line, and we've enjoyed them all!  Check out:
You can also access many of the DTH video sets with your family membership to Schoolhouse Teachers!  This one-stop-site covers every subject for every grade, and all of your students are covered with one membership.  Peek inside, and see what's included (so SO much) here!

Looking for more world travel?

Travel the World from Your Kitchen Table!

Each country in Cooking Around the World includes recipes, books, printable activities, crafts, and more for a complete unit study.  Cook three to four dishes, and follow the Homeschool Connections unit page for each country.  (41 pages of lesson plans)

  • Italy
  • India
  • France
  • America
  • Germany
  • England
  • Greece
  • Russia
  • Egypt
  • China
  • Puerto Rico
  • Ireland

Monday, January 24

Julie of the Wolves & Alaska

Julie of the Wolves is set in Alaska, and we venture with the protagonist through the backwoods of the state.  Alaska is the largest state in the United States, with more area that Texas, Montana, and California combined!  It is the most northwestern state, bordering Canada's British Columbia and the territory of Yukon.  It also has an ocean border with Russia, just across the Bering Strait...

You may also be interested in the Call of the Wild novel study.

The Russians were the first to explore Alaska, but never fully colonized it.  In 1867, the US Secretary of State purchased Alaska for $7.2 million.  It was known as "Seward's Folly" at the time, because it was believed to be a waste of money.  The formal transfer of land ownership was on October 18, and that day is still celebrated as Alaska Day.  The state was officially admitted to the United States as the 49th state in 1959.

Alaska was occupied by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.  It is thought that this was the entry point for settling North America, as indigenous peoples crossed the Bering Land Bridge.  The Aleutian Islands are still home to the Aleut Native Americans today.  Learn about the Aleutian Islands during World War 2 in the Island War novel study.  While Alaska is sparsely-populated, it actually has four times the number of people living there than live in Greenland and Northern Canada combined.  About half the people live in Anchorage, while another large percent lives in the capital city of Juneau.  

In the story, Miyax is lost in the tundra, a barren plain.  Because the Alaskan tundra is so far north, it’s usually 28 very cold. It only reaches about 40 degrees Fahrenheit there in the summer, and during the summer there are days when the sun never sets.  In some places in the Arctic Circle, the sun stays up for eighty-four days straight without setting.  By the same token, there are sixty-six days in the winter when the sun never rises.  With little to no sun, and fierce winds, it can get well below zero for most of winter.  There are festivals celebrating the rebirth of the sun in some Alaskan villages.

In the Arctic, the aurora borealis is a collection of glimmering ribbons of colored light that flash across the sky.  They happen because there are electrically charged particles from the sun in the air.  The particles are drawn to Earth’s atmosphere by the magnetic field of the North Pole.  These particles bump into Earth’s atmosphere and release energy that people see as bands of light. 

Eskimos are the native people who live in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America and Siberia.  The word Eskimo is not actually an Eskimo word, but was something Algonquin Indians called their neighbors -- it means "eaters of raw meat."   The Algonquins called their neighbors this because they wore animal skin clothing and were very good hunters.  The term used by the people themselves is Inuit, which means “real people.” 

Our spine read for this unit is:

  • Julie of the Wolves    
    • To her small Eskimo village, she is known as Miyax; to her friend in San Francisco, she is Julie. When her life in the village becomes dangerous, Miyax runs away, only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.

Snag the ENTIRE UNIT in Twenty-Three Reads Bundle - for someone who wants a little bit of everything! 

It includes twenty-three unit studies covering a wide range of topics. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand. These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together.
  • 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.
  • Language Arts
    • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Geography
    • Anne of Green Gables & Canadian Provinces
    • Stowaway & Antarctica
    • Julie of the Wolves & Alaska
    • Blades of Freedom & the Louisiana Purchase
    • The Avion My Uncle Flew & France
  • History
    • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
    • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
    • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
    • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
    • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
    • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
    • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
    • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
    • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
    • The World Made New & Early Explorers
    • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
  • Life Skills
    • Teetoncey & Lifesaving Skills
    • Freak of the Week & Disabilities Awareness
    • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Sailing
  • Science
    • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
    • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
    • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

Product samples:

Monday, January 17

Booster Shots For Homeschooling Parents

You may be one of those families that has been homeschooling for 9 years or so and now are on the home stretch, or you may be new to the journey and have gotten in over your head and wondered if this is the right choice. Any and all of us could use a Booster Shot at some point...

No, we’re not talking about immunizations. We are talking about booster shots for those families that have homeschooled for so long, or so in depth that they have lost the joy of why they started this journey in the first place.

Our Top Ten Countdown for Rejuvenating Your Homeschool

10. Field Trip! Just a short one or maybe even a day long adventure – your choice, but there is nothing like a field trip to break up the week and breath life into a student’s schedule.

9. Read Aloud! If you don’t already do this, it’s a good time to start when your battery is low. You can read to them, or they can take turns reading to you and each other. It’s a great way to bond and relax. Yes, even high school kids like this still!

8. School Outside! The weather is turning warmer in most parts of the country! Take the books, the art, the portable CD player and learn outside. Even better, just walk and study what is about to bloom and discuss the science of this blessing!

7. Combining 8 & 9! One booster for us, all the way up until mid high school, was to take a huge blanket out under the sun or shade tree and read. We would watch clouds, pet new baby chicks or kitties and just enjoy hearing a good story in the fresh air.

6. Year-round School Schedule! This SOUNDS awful to some people, but it doesn’t ‘t really mean school every single day! It means for each month of the year, you have school for 3 weeks and then one week off. These schedules can often be planned around holidays. If you and your student knew that every three weeks you both got a significant break, there is time to plan fun or just do NOTHING every month!

5. Find a Co-op! Many area support groups have some co-op learning classes. Often it will require that you volunteer a bit of your time once in a while, but the change of pace and learning surroundings can be invaluable to both you and all students involved!

4. Let the Student Plan – not You! One of my children wanted the freedom to plan her own Senior year completely. She chose an extra science and an extra social studies. She also planned every weeks’ work and is doing so that she can be finished WELL before her graduation ceremony date – by her 18th birthday! This has motivated her and also taught her accountability. It has also lightened my load to simply grading!

3. Let a Science Experiment ‘evolve’ into more! This was always one sure fire way for my kids to get a little giggly or off track – but boy it is memorable and it was worth the side track! Take the science experiment to any lengths your child’s questions or curiosity will let it go (but let’s be safe about it). Not only do they learn more by not having to fit into a science ‘box’ – but you will ignite the joy of learning again – and you will LOVE to see how their minds work when unhindered by steps preordained by someone else!

2. Talk with others! When you get the chance, ask other parents for ideas that may be inviting to your homeschool to use. You may also be surprised how your kids react when they find out what other kids do for their homeschool. My kids were actually pleasantly pleased when they heard the schedule and weight of some other homeschooled students their age. I became a ‘cool’ mom (for a little while anyway).

1. My number 1 favorite! Just take the day off (or the week) when you know you’ve all reached your limit! Bake a big ole batch of chocolate chip cookies, play with the pets, make a mess, don’t grade, don’t file and don’t worry. Mix this in with prayer and thanksgiving that you have the chance to be home with your kids and I’ll guarantee that an attitude of gratitude will renew that joy to your homeschool heart!

Monday, January 10

Hotel Transylvania 4

 This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for Amazon Studios & Sony Pictures Animation.

My son LOVES movies.  All of them!  And winter is a great time for us to curl up with some cocoa and popcorn (I know, weird combo, right?) and watch them all!  Recently we had the chance to see the new Hotel Transylvania...

Drac and the Pack are back, like you’ve never seen them before in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Reunite with your favorite monsters for an all-new adventure that presents Drac (Brian Hull) with his most terrifying task yet. When Van Helsing’s (Jim Gaffigan) mysterious invention, the 'Monsterification Ray,’ goes haywire, Drac and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny (Andy Samberg) becomes a monster! In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure before it’s too late, and before they drive each other crazy. With help from Mavis (Selena Gomez) and the hilariously human Drac Pack, the heat is on to find a way to switch themselves back before their transformations become permanent. The film also features the voices of Kathryn Hahn (Ericka), Steve Buscemi (Wayne), Molly Shannon (Wanda), David Spade (Griffin the Invisible Man), Keegan-Michael Key (Murray), Fran Drescher (Eunice), Brad Abrell (Frank), and Asher Blinkoff (Dennis).

Hotel Transylvania 4 Trailer

Ready to cozy up and join us on a movie adventure?!  Stream Hotel Transylvania: Transformania January 14th on Amazon Prime!

Homeschooling After the Holidays

The after-Christmas let down is hard...for kids and adults alike...

The holidays are over. No more parties, the decorations are coming down, and the anticipation is gone. Everyone wants the fun and festivities back. It’s still out there at an ungodly hour of day, and the weather generally isn’t cooperating as well. And we’re just now entering our snow season when everything is dreary and chilly.

You're not alone.  In every classroom across America, and many places around the world, people just like you are struggling to get back into the groove after the holidays.  Half the battle, however, is how the holidays themselves are handled.  Maybe this year wasn't such a win, or maybe the transition could be smoother. 

Here are a few of the things we do during the holiday season and just afterward to help transition everyone back to “normal” life.

  • Get Back to Routine
    • We go do special things during the Christmas season, but we try to keep life normal. Our bedtime routine is the same even during holiday break. We might break the routine a little to go out later than normal, but we don’t let the kids stay up super late or push them to go do “all the things.”  We also continue with reading aloud and Christmas-schooling through the break because it helps the kids stay focused and on a routine.
  • Go Gradually
    • We use advent calendars to help the kids celebrate the season.  We also limit special holiday events and space them out throughout the month so that it’s not a whirlwind of activities all in one week. We decorate right after Thanksgiving, and then spend the week between Christmas and New Year undecorating.  This slowly builds and then exits the season.
  • Know your Children
    • When shopping for gifts, know your children and get them something they'll really use.  They might desperately want the "insert trendy toy of the year here," but if you know it will be discarded two days later, skip it.  Some of our kids are hard to buy for. Which is why I wait until almost the very last minute to get them a gift, to make sure that they don’t change their mind and their Christmas list.
  • Spread the Love
    • With extended family living far and wide, presents are known to arrive any time in an eight week window...or not at all.  We set a limit on what we'll spend, and sometimes a few family members will go in together on a larger gift or experience.  We open a gift on Christmas Eve, and some on Christmas Day, but it's not unusual for the kids to open them as they come in.  It spreads out the fun so that they aren't overwhelmed and appreciate each thing a little more.  And sometimes, my siblings and I will purposefully send gifts outside the 'window' for this reason.  By doing it this way, the kids practice thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude – all things we struggle with due to intensities.
  • Make Field Trip Season in January
    • We go to indoor playgrounds, head out on field trips, and go outside if the weather isn’t a total wet muddy mess.  For the kids, getting to go do something they love after the holiday helps them feel like life hasn’t turned dull after the holiday craziness. And public school is back in session, so those fun places should be less crowded and more fun.
  • Ease Into It
    • We don’t jump right back into school routines on the same day – we might go out and do a field trip, or we might have a lazy school day with videos and reading aloud.  We usually start back on a Wednesday, with some simple school days that week, and then jump back in on the following Monday.
  • Do the Unexpected
    • The holidays don't have to be the only fun times of the year.  Host a tea party, book club, scavenger hunt, or some other fun gathering with a small group of friends.  Go out to lunch one day.  Go to the movie theater and see something that could count as school (we totally did this with Peabody & Sherman one year!).  And if all else fails, have them choose an interest and dive down the bunny trail for a week or two....just to break up the winter doldrums.

Needing a change for the new semester? is the homeschooler's one-stop site, with complete curriculum, aids such as printables, daily lessons, lapbooks, free e-books, and conference recordings on various homeschool topics prepared by recognized homeschool leaders.  You have access to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly lesson plans by some of the best from within the homeschooling community.  It covers grades Pre-K through 12th grade...every subject!

Make this year YOUR year! This reusable calendar features monthly at-a-glance pages and weekly pages with space for notes and planning. Each week also has a habit tracker grid to help keep the momentum going with your new habits! Just print and reuse each year for your planner.

Saturday, January 1

Self-Care for Moms (Word of the Year 2022)

The past couple of years have been pretty intense...  I don't just mean 'rona issues, but aging parents, dying parents, teenagers getting their licenses, starting a small business, and having our one income family become a zero income family INTENSE.  It comes with the territory of being in that sandwich generation, and I know that many other parents are feeling the squeeze, too, right now.  Therefore, this year's word of the year is self-care.

Like many of you, I wear several hats simultaneously: wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, business owner, farmer, writer, taxi driver, maid, cook, etc.  What I don't wear so wear is the 'relaxed' hat.  My sister actually got me a shirt that says, "I run to burn off the crazy."  And it's true.  Except that due to injuries, now I can't run anymore.  Enter a new self-care schedule...

Why bother with self-care?

Well, partly because if one more person tells me I need to do yoga, I may slap them.  And there's no place in this society for that kind of behavior.  But mostly because of the root cause of that behavior -- being stretched too thin for too long.  When your sympathetic nervous system is the most active system in your body, that's a problem.  (That's your fight or flight one.)  Fortunately, as someone who works from home most of the time, I have a little bit of wiggle room to try and squeeze in one more thing work on self-care.

Tweaking the Schedule

To that end, here's what I'm aiming for this year.  Check back with me in March, and we'll see how well it goes.  One thing I AM doing, which should help, is giving myself permission to fall off the wagon.  So many times, we make resolutions, and then when we fail to keep them regularly, we just toss them out the window.  But with this new schedule, if stuff happens, then it happens...and we'll try again next week!
  • Monday
    • Board game night!  It used to be a family tradition to play board games on Monday nights...and then the kids got older and things sort of drifted to the wayside.  But it won't be long before they drift into even wider circles and leave home.  We are reinstating game night for a little cut-throat fun.
  • Tuesday
    • TV night with the family.  By the time we finish Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol, admittedly we usually get home pretty late on Tuesdays...but are wired.  This is the perfect night to pull out those black and white tv shows we love and wind down with the boob tube before bed.
  • Wednesday
    • Spa Day....or more likely, physical therapy day followed by a salt bath.  Wednesday is our go-to-the-city day.  For you more urban and suburban folks, who may not be in the know, rural folks tend to gather up all their errands and appointments and scheduled them on one super-long day.  For us, that almost always ends up being on a Wednesday.  (I do it on purpose -- it's double coupon day at the grocery store.)  If possible, once a month, I plan to add a massage to this city trip, too!
  • Thursday
    • Sleep in...  By Thursday I'm usually tired.  I've put in a couple of late nights with extracurricular activities, and turning off the alarm clock to let my body get the rest it needs is the perfect mid-week treat.  Of course, this one is much easier to do if you don't have littles...
  • Friday
    • Hit the hay...  Whether curled up with a book or somebody else, tonight's the night to pack it in and call it a week.  Typically, hubby is pretty worn out after a full work week as well, so we'll turn in early and hand the remote over to the kids to watch a teen movie.  But absolutely no working after 6pm on Fridays!
  • Saturday
    • Say no to technology!  There will be times that this is easier said that done, and I realize that.  Particularly during busy times or when we're preparing for an upcoming trip.  However, with the paring down of social media, this should get easier throughout the year.  I foresee issues keeping this one on cold, rainy weekend mornings...
  • Sunday
    • Curl up and read...  Whether it's from a devotional or a new fiction novel, this day is dedicated to resting and reading.  After all, an introverted bibliophile's best friend is a good book!  This day is NOT for reading new curriculum, homeschooling magazines, or anything else that could be construed as work-related.  It's about restoring the soul.

And that's it!  A small tweak each day of the week that provides a bit of self-care.  They say that small changes add up to big effects...let's see if the adage still rings true.  

What changes will you make this year?

Here are some of my favorite books to start at the new year.  We read one together as a family, and I usually have a different one for personal use.  Do you have a good one to add to this list? Comment below!