TOS Sweet Critique: Heritage History

PhotobucketWHAT:  Heritage History British Empire

COST:  $24.99

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Fourth grade reading level through high school



Heritage History offers a number of products, to include CDs containing living books, study guides, maps, and more.

The British Empire CD, specifically, has 57 books, over 50 maps, a study guide, and more, and covers 18th and 19th century world history.

All of the books on the CDs were published prior to 1923 and are living books, meaning they’re not written from an analytical, fact-driven perspective.  They’re written more as a narrative.

The curriculum is designed to cover the major and important parts of history, not every little mundane fact.


This was an entirely new way of teaching for me.  I just recently learned about living books, and I have to say it was intense for me!

That’s not to say I didn’t like the curriculum, it’s just a stretch for me right now.

What I did love about the CD is the wealth of information contained.

It contains maps {a ton!}, a timeline, a compendium of “characters” from the British Empire, information about battles, etc.

So, even if you’re someone like me who prefers a less living books approach to teaching, the CD still has an amazing number of resources that would likely come in handy.

Plus, since the books are meant to be read for fun, your avid reader might still enjoy reading the books as supplemental material.

I appreciate the fact that Heritage History has taken the time to provide an extensive study guide and curriculum guide so that you can really understand the purpose and method behind this type of education.

They really do give you all you’d need to successfully teach this for an entire year, even if you’d never heard of a living book.

All that said, I’d recommend it regardless of your teaching style.  At only $30, you’ve got an extensive library of resources that can enhance any history curriculum.


See what other members of the Crew thought by clicking here.

True Confessions:  I was provided with these materials in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

TOS Sweet Critique: WriteShop Junior Book D


WHAT:  WriteShop Junior Book D

COST:  Teacher’s Guide:  hard copy {$39.95} OR eBook {$34.95} AND Activity Pack:  hard copy {$39.95} OR eBook {$29.95}

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Grades 3 and 4, although it can be used with reluctant writers in grades 5 and 6 {reluctant 3rd graders might want to start with Primary Book C}



WriteShop Junior is a homeschool creative writing program for upper elementary students.

Using fun graphics, engaging games and activities, and age-appropriate methods, WriteShop Junior helps you teach the writing process and self-editing skills to your child.

The program comes with a teacher’s guide and activity pack {student worksheet pack AND Fold-N-Go grammar pack}.


Oh man, I love it.  LOVE it!

Babydoll can’t stand writing, and the writing program we originally started with didn’t do much to make her like it either.

I think part of the problem is my inability to teach the process.  I’ve never been a follower of the actual process, although after going through it in college, I see the benefit.

While I know how I sit down and write, I can’t communicate to Babydoll, who hates to write, how to sit down and write something.



The teacher’s guide does a phenomenal job of walking you through the entire process of teaching your child to write.

It doesn’t just tell you which lessons to do on what day.  You are given ideas to create a portable or permanent writing station, several sample schedules to follow, tips on how much you should help your child, and more.

After just reading through the first portion of the teacher’s guide I felt like I would be better equipped to teach Babydoll the writing process.

You are given an easy breakdown of advanced prep, materials needed, and other helpful tips for each lesson.  They’ve designed it in a way that allows a more confident teacher to take what they need and go, while someone like me who is a little uneasy about the whole process can really get the guidance they need.



The activity pack is full of everything your student will need to complete WriteShop Junior.

The fonts and graphics are fun; Babydoll was quickly enticed.



I definitely recommend trying this product if you’re looking for a writing curriculum.

I had all but given up, hoping that as she progressed through her other studies we could find ways to tie writing in.

I am so happy that we had the opportunity to give this a try!

Want to purchase for yourself?  They’ve kindly given us a coupon code for you!!!

Use CREW15 for 15% off any WriteShop Primary or Junior purchase now through June 15th!


Find out what other members of the Crew thought about WriteShop here.

Several different levels were sent out to Crew members, so if your child is not in this grade range, you might find an appropriate level in another review.

True Confessions:  I was provided with these materials in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Next Week is eBook Launch Week!


The day is almost here:  So, You Think You Wanna Homeschool? the eBook is almost out!

I can’t believe it; I never thought I’d see the day {at least this soon} where I’d have an eBook written.

It’s been a labor of love and it’s been hard to work through the self-doubt.

But, I’m glad I’ve done it!

I’ve got a couple of great giveaways coming up to celebrate, and during launch week the eBook will be 50% off {only $4}!

This has taken up a huge chunk of time, and while I’m glad I did it, I’m glad that I’ll be spending more time here again!

I’d like to again thank each of you for your support; I’m thankful for each of you!

Also be on the lookout for a couple of great homeschool product reviews this week, as well as an update on AboutOne!

I’m also really excited about a homeschool product we’re reviewing right now {social studies} that I’ll be reviewing in a couple of weeks!

Can’t wait to share it all with you!


Sweet Critique: “Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess”


We love books in our household.


I was a huge book nerd in high school {Vince can vouch for that}, and Babydoll absolutely loves reading too.  Vince is a big Stephen King fan.

We have an over-abundance of books here.

Add to that our love for all things pink and sparkly, and well, we’re super-duper in love with Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess.

NOTE:  Sadie, The Paper Crown Princess isn’t actually sparkly, but it definitely should be.  It’s just that cool.


Princesses, duh!

OK, so without being so vague…  The book is abso-freakin-lutely phenomenal!


It’s the perfect marriage of girly, princess-y stuff and do-good-for-others, be-whatever-you-want-when-you-grow-up stuff.

I’ve often had this struggle since having Babydoll:  I love girly things.  She loves girly things.  But there is another side to us as well: playing outside {her}, reading {both of us}, science and math {her}, and other “non-girly” stuff.

Our society often makes it seem as if you have to pick between the two, but as this book points out, you can be a girly girl and have a love for non-girly things.

You can want to be a princess but still have a desire to do for yourself.

Sadie is headed to princess school and while she has great manners and is smart, she doesn’t seem to do well at being a princess in the traditional sense of the word.

Will she be able to get her tiara and become a full-fledged princess?

You’ll have to read to find out!


You do, trust me, you do.

The awesome author of the book has given me a discount code for 20% off {pre-order it here} AND she is giving away a Sadie t-shirt and paper crown set!!!

Use code “sweetphen” {no quotes} to get 20% off any Sadie purchase, and use the Giveaway Tools form below to enter to win your Sadie set!

Also, don’t forget about the Sadie Twitter party I’m co-hosting on Wednesday.  Details here!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

I’m linked up over on Hip Homeschool Moms!

[Read more…]

7 Things to Consider When Joining a Homeschool Co-op

Homeschool co-ops can be great places for your child to socialize with other homeschoolers, learn subjects that you might not teach well, and simply have fun.

There are a wide range of co-ops, ranging from laid back free ones to structured paid groups.

No matter the type you choose, there are a few things you might want to consider prior to joining a co-op.

Oftentimes you’re commitment is required for at least a semester, so it’s best to do all the homework you can before settling on a particular group.

Here are a few considerations before joining a co-op.

  1. Time commitment - No matter how you look at it, co-ops are a commitment. It’s not uncommon for co-ops to meet weekly, and if you’ve already got a crammed schedule, this will possibly be a huge burden on you.
  2. Location – If you live somewhere like me, anything is going to be a drive for you.  Some things are worth the drive, and others are not.  Is this co-op going to be worth the drive you must make to get there? Also remember that travel time will eat into your day on top of the time actually spent at co-op.
  3. Curricula and subjects taught – If you are averse to religious curricula, you’ll want to make sure your co-op doesn’t use doctrinal products for teaching.  If you have science covered in your home, you likely won’t want to waste time with a heavily science-based co-op.  Ensure the subjects being taught and materials being used will fit your family’s values and needs.
  4. Ages of children present - I’m a big fan of kids learning how to interact with lots of different ages, but part of the co-op experience for many families is socialization.  If you have a high schooler, you probably won’t want to participate in a co-op full of nothing but elementary-aged children.
  5. Cost - Some co-ops operate based on the philosophy that all parents contribute in some manner, and others operate strictly using a cash model.  If your family is not in a position to contribute financially {sometimes quite a bit}, then you might want to find a co-op that allows you to pay in sweat equity.
  6. Involvement - Do you want to teach a class? Do you enjoy helping out in the nursery? These are jobs that some co-ops require parents to help out with.  If you’re averse to these types of things, think long and hard before joining.
  7. Your child - Just because you think co-op is a good idea doesn’t mean your child does.  If he or she shudders at the thought of sitting around in a classroom setting with other kids, perhaps socialization is better achieved in some other way.
Co-ops can be really fun, or they can be an utter drain.  Before you sign paperwork obligating your family to a co-op, take the time to read the information given to you, talk to other parents, and get any questions answered.


There’s nothing worse than being tied to something you really can’t stand.


How do you determine whether a co-op is right for you and your family?