A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew Product Review ~ Nutrition 101 from Growing Healthy Homes


For this product review, I received an e-book edition of "Nutrition 101" from Growing Healthy Homes. I was surprised by the sheer volume of this resource (yes, even in a digital format, it's a big book!). This book is a wealth of 400+ pages of usable nutrition information.

I was very impressed by the content of "Nutrition 101" right from the start. In light of the "health crisis" I faced last spring (I was on the verge of Type 2 diabetes in addition to my hypothyroidism), this book struck a chord deep within me. Facing my health issues head on and making dramatic lifestyle changes has given me a whole new appreciation for the study of nutrition. Over the past year, I have read quite a bit about diabetes, and what I read in "Nutrition 101" about diabetes prevention is as good as anything else I have come across. "Nutrition 101" is filled with information I can use on a daily basis and it has become a key component in our family's health studies.

My daughters have also been impressed with the substance of this resource. It really is top-notch! Even when some of the wording was difficult for my youngest daughter, I found it pretty easy to adapt the book to fit her level of understanding. This has allowed me to lay a solid foundation in the study of nutrition that she can build upon for the rest of her life.

The segments on "Brain Foods and Healthy Fats" was a real eye-opener for my girls. They discovered so many things they never knew before, and the ways healthy fats work within the brain was fascinating to them. The complexity of this one topic speaks loudly of our Creator (curriculum that brings glory to the Lord are a favorite with me). The depth with which the subject matter is explained allows the student, and the teacher, to grasp the "why" behind the nutrition facts.

If you visit the website at you will find information on webinars and seminars, upcoming events, and product info. In addition to "Nutrition 101", Growing Healthy Homes has baby products (called Gentle Babies) and products relating to Raw Foods. "Nutrition 101" is available in three formats - the book sells for $99.95, the CDrom sells for $79.95, and the book/CDrom combo sells for $129.95. (I received the book as a download free of charge for review purposes).

My 7th grader had this to say about Growing Healthy Home's "Nutrition 101" - "It's more thorough than some other health programs I've used. I was sometimes confused with other books I read, but Nutrition 101 makes sense to me. The information was complex but understandable. It's pretty interesting to learn how food impacts my body's systems. I have learned a lot."

My 10th grader added this - "This book is very thorough. It's not boring or overwhelming, however. It's set up in a way that keeps me learning and wanting to learn more. It can be hard to retain textbook health info - but this book has been ideal for me. It doesn't feel like a tedious health book, and I like that."

If you are considering a health program for your homeschool or your co-op, "Nutrition 101" from Growing Healthy Homes would be an excellent choice.


May the Lord bless you today as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 91 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Should I Do With All These Books?? ~ Part 1

So here you are, busy homeschooling mother, smack dab in the middle of the month of April. Pat yourself on the back, treat yourself to a latte, buy yourself a new pair of shoes - in some way celebrate the fact that you're nearing the end of the school year!!

It's a milestone, and it's important to recognize milestone moments in our lives. April is the month when we really begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids are finishing up some of their work, and moms are able to look back over the year and see how far everyone has come. By May, many homeschool families have put away all things "homeschool" and are moving full-speed-ahead into summer.

But hold up there for a, what about all those books?

Should you put them in plastic storage tubs or cardboard boxes and shove them in the attic? Load the bookshelves to their maximum capacity? Stack them in tall, teetering piles near your nightstand? Or simply walk out of the homeschool room (if you have a room for homeschooling - many of us use the kitchen table!) and shut the door behind you?

For many a homeschooling mom, the very last thing we want to do in April and May is organize the mountain of homeschooling "stuff" we have acquired over the course of the academic year. It's a lot of work, and we're ready for a much deserved break. Some of us may not even want to look at another book until August or September of 2012 rolls around!!

I get all that, really I do. There have been school years that went on so long, I was pretty sure my family was stuck in some kind of time warp. I've pushed the "easy button" and ran head long into the I-don't-have-to-write-lesson-plans-or-grade-math-worksheets-or-teach-cursive-'cuz-it's-SUMMER month of May. It's very tempting, but trust me, it's not the wisest course of action for the homeschooling mother to take.

Next fall I will begin my 14th year of homeschooling. If I have learned anything over the years, I have learned that what I do at the end of the current school year can make or break the next school year. I may truly believe that I will be able to remember how to categorize and sort each of the papers in the ginormous "paper pile", and that I will clearly remember every book my kids read, and that assigning credit for coursework and updating high school transcripts will be breeze come fall. Yup, I may truly believe all of the above, and I am truly wrong in my beliefs. It will not happen that way, ladies.

So here is Part 1 in this series of posts on this topic - take what is helpful and apply it to your homeschool and toss out what isn't helpful. I'm all about encouraging moms who homeschool, not discouraging them by loading them up with lists of Yea's and Nay's. If these tips help, that's terrific! If they don't help, don't sweat the small stuff. But do take some time to document your children's learning and look ahead to next year's curriculum needs before you close the book on this school year :)

Sort Books As You Finish Them
Don't put this off until later - do it now!! As soon as your kiddo finishes that science book, put it where it belongs. (i.e. back on the shelf with other science books to be used in the future, listed on if it's no longer needed in your homeschool, in the Goodwill box if it's too worn to resell, given to your friend at support group who could use it for her kid's next year)

Update Your Older Student's Transcripts Right Away
Use your planner and your student's planners to document any coursework that can count toward high school credit starting in middle school (any high school level work done from 6th grade on can count toward high school credit). Don't have any idea how to create a transcript? No problem, just pick up a nice hardbound notebook (Barnes and Noble often has these on sale). Create a page for each of your children and write down information about the books they've used or read that fit into high school categories like "American Lit" or "Foreign Language" or "Composition". Write down book titles, whether the work was done for one semester or all year, and the grade they earned. And if your kiddo didn't quite finish the book, keep in mind that public high schools assign full credit when books are 80% complete. That's all you need to do for now :)

Make A List of Books You Have and Books You Want/Need
Keep this list in a handy place; in your purse perhaps or tucked inside your Bible. Make sure you look at it regularly and add to it as needed. The list can be simple, but you probably need to have it sorted by subject. As you find a science book you'd like to buy, add it to the list. When you are preparing for a garage sale and find a couple of science books, add them to the list. When your friend mentions a book she has but doesn't need to use next year, check your needs and wants & borrow it if need be (but don't forget to return it as soon as you are finished with it!). Let her look over your list to see if anything you have could be a blessing to her. Refer to your list frequently and you will be amazed at how your homeschool planning "comes together" in a much easier fashion than when you try and figure it all our from memory or worse yet, on the last day of August!

Those are my 3 tips for today, but I will continue this in Part 2. If you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to try and answer them - leave a comment and I'll get back to you and include your questions Part 2.

Lord bless your homeschool & have a wonderful Easter this weekend! He is risen indeed!!

Day 90 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TOS Crew Product Review ~ Kinderbach


Have you been looking for a fun and easy way for your little one to learn how to play the piano? Maybe you would like to expose your tyke to music but aren't sure where to begin. Do you live in a rural setting and just can't find a way to fit in long drives for piano lessons? These are just a few examples of reasons busy homeschooling families might find Kinderbach a perfect fit!

At the Kinderbach website ( you will find online piano lessons for younger children. The lessons are divided into 6 levels and each level contains 10 weeks of instruction. Each weekly lesson has an introduction video lesson followed by 3 video lessons. That may sound a bit confusing, so let me simplify:

6 Levels
Level 1 = week 1 thru 10
Level 2 = week 11 thru 20
Level 3 = week 21 thru 30 (and so on for 60 weeks of instruction)
Week 1 = Introduction, Session 1, Session 2, Session 3

Each session may have other options to reinforce what the student has learned, such as printable coloring pages. There are cute icons on the screen just below the video that will show the student which options are available with each session.

Kinderbach teaches children where the notes are (on any piano). They don't use colors or stickers or "tricks" as part of their teaching method. But they also make sure it isn't confusing (part of why many programs use stickers or colors is to try and lesson confusion for the young pianist). As a mom who has purchased several books and DVDs to teach beginning piano, I really wish I'd found Kinderbach early on. I think it would have been a perfect fit for my daughter in her younger years.


In addition to the online lessons, Kinderbach also has books available in pdf format. The books help to "cement" what the student has learned, and Kinderbach incorporates fun characters into the lessons. As a mom in her 13th year of homeschooling, I can tell you that any subject that is taught using a variety of learning styles will be better retained. This is a large factor for me when I am considering a curriculum purchase. I truly appreciate that Kinderbach has created a learning program with such variety, and the pdf books are a huge selling point in my opinion.


How much does this wonderful product cost, you are wondering? Online piano lessons start at $7.99. DVD and CD packages begin at $40.45. You can also purchase songbooks and other "extras" here:

Kinderbach has plans to add games and songs (kind of like pinao karaoke) online in the near future, so be sure to keep an eye out for those fun additions to this already fun program!

Let me also add that, as always, I received this product free of charge for review purposes.

Have a blessed homeschool day & be sure to incorporate music into your homeschool!

Day 90 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Job's Word on Wisdom

In the 28th chapter of the book of Job, we can read what Job has to say about wisdom. I find it very encouraging that even in the midst of such terrible circumstances, Job was able to retain his proper view of God and share that proper view with others. WOW! I mean, how often do I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and for the rest of the day, everyone around me gets to experience my bad mood first hand? And here we have Job, enduring more grief than I can begin to comprehend - and he's teaching his not-such-wise friends about God's true and unchanging character. I read Job's words, look in the mirror, and humbly ask the Lord to create in me a heart that loves Him as Job loved Him.

Here are a couple of verses from the book of Job, New Living Translation:

Job 28:12 - "But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?"

Job 28:15-17 - "It cannot be bought for gold or silver. Its value is greater than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx stone or sapphires. Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold."

Job 28:20 - "But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?"

Job 28:28 - "And this is what he says to all humanity; 'The fear of the LORD is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.' "

Job was truly a wise and God-fearing man, wasn't he? We see him drawing the listener in as he speaks of wisdom's great value and repeatedly asks where people can find wisdom and understanding. He ends the chapter by quoting God Himself - if we have ears to hear we can "hear" God telling us that "The fear of the LORD is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding."

I am going to take God at His Word today, and choose to heed Job's wise words. This day I choose to serve the Lord, to fear Him and revere Him in all His holiness, and seek His guidance as I homeschool my children.

Lord bless your homeschool day as you seek wisdom and understanding

Day 89 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Friday, April 1, 2011

TOS Crew Product Review - Zeezok Publishing (z-guide for "12 Angry Men")

The product I am reviewing today fits nicely into a unique corner of the homeschooler's curriculum bookshelf (or, if you are like me, a series of bookcases!). Zeezok Publishing market a variety of products for homeschooling families, including American Government, Literature, Character Building, Great Musicians, Penmanship and their z-guides to the Movies. The z-guide I am reviewing today corresponds with the movie "12 Angry Men" (1957) starring Henry Fonda (which is a fantastic movie, if you've never seen had the pleasure of viewing it).

Each z-guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and 10 additional learning activities. The films are carefully chosen for their historical context, so you need not worry that you are watching movies instead of "doing school"! The topic overview helps set the film in it's historical context and provides background information to enhance your student's study. The movie synopsis is simply a brief, detailed explanation of the movie's storyline. And the 10 learning activities are tailored to the subject matter from each film.

The student(s) watch the film the first time through and answer some movie review questions - this assignment could be divided over several days if need be; however, it probably works best when the film is viewed in one sitting and the questions are answered shortly thereafter. After this initial viewing of the film, the assignments vary from one z-guide to another, but in the case of "12 Angry Men" the learning activities focused primarily on judicial procedures and moral societal issues such as capital punishment, social justice and U.S government. There was also plenty of focus on the movie making process, which my 10th grade daughter appreciated as much of the character development can be applied to her aspirations as a novelist. Some of the activities required the use of outside resources, such as the Internet or a visit to the library ~ however, I don't know many homeschool moms who fail stop by their local library on a regular basis and as for Internet access, well, anyone reading this review has the Internet available to them, right?!

There were some memorization activities included in the z-guide for "12 Angry Men" - and I must say, the quotes they found for student's to memorize were fantastic! My personal favorites were a quote by Atticus Finch of "To Kill A Mockingbird" fame and Portia from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice". If you have not read "To Kill A Mockingbird" (the only novel ever penned by "Nell" Harper Lee) or "The Merchant of Venice" I recommend you grab a copy of Miss Lee's book at the library (moms read this book first - some of the subject matter may not be suitable for younger children) and start your children on Shakespeare by reading "Charles and Mary Lamb's Book of Shakespeare".
You might also want to look at Zeezok Publishing's website for their z-guide that corresponds with the film version of "To Kill A Mockingbird" (starring Gregory Peck). Visit them online here:

When visiting their website, you can find a complete listing of all available z-guides to the Movies in the "Product" section on the left-hand side of the home page. Some of the z-guides I hope to acquire include "A Man For All Seasons", "Guess Who's Coming to Diner?", "Kit Kittredge" (for my younger students!), "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "Sergeant York", and of course "To Kill A Mockingbird". Each of the DVDs is available at their website, which makes for easy one-stop shopping. The z-guide for "12 Angry Men" sells for $12.99 and the DVD costs $15.98. (As always, I received this product free of charge for review purposes).

I can't say there was much about this resource that I didn't like, and my 10th grade daughter likes the movie "12 Angry Men" very much; doing these assignments was enjoyable for her and it was a unique way to learn about our judicial system.

Check out Zeezok Publishing's website ( and see if they have something unique and educational for your homeschool needs!

Day 88 done :)

Jan L. Burt