A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Friday, December 30, 2011

TOS Crew Product Review ~ R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish

Relax. Enjoy. Aspire. Learn Spanish.

This is the motto behind REAL Homeschool Spanish. And yes indeed, they do live up to that motto!

The philosophy behind REAL Homeschool Spanish is that Spanish is best learned through conversation. All new vocabulary is taught first by speaking back and forth with others. This curriculum doesn't focus primarily on exact pronunciation or rules of grammar; rather, it's focus is on actually being able to converse in Spanish. That makes it unique among other Spanish language curriculum. It also makes it necessary for mom (or dad, or older siblings) to participate in the lessons!

The material used in REAL Homeschool Spanish is relevant to a homeschooling environment and is meant to be applied all throughout the day. You can (and should) use Spanish words as you and your child talk - during dinner, saying good-night, etc. It's not typical for Spanish programs to be created specifically for the needs of homeschooling families. That's one more big reason that REAL Homeschool Spanish stands apart from other foreign language curriculum.

The ideas and games in the activity book are excellent. My kids not only enjoy the activities, but they feel this aspect of REAL Homeschool Spanish cements their grasp of the language. It "completes the loop" of learning in their brains, so to speak :)

The planning guide makes it easy to plan (and thus to complete) the Spanish lessons. There are no excuses with this curriculum - planning is all laid out, lessons are easy to implement, and conversational Spanish is achieved. And they do it all with an emphasis on a relaxed learning environment, which is also a plus for my busy family.

Included in the download I received from REAL Homeschool Spanish (free of charge for review purposes) were the 179 page Activity Book, the Activity Book Audio (contained in a zip file), a 45 page Answer Key, a 105 page Student Book (in color), and an additional 105 page Student Book (in black and white for easier printing), and a 50 page Daily Curriculum Guide.

The components of the program work together to make for a solid and fun learning experience that does more than simply meet your state's foreign language requirements for high school graduation. Here is my description of each part of the curriculum:

The Activity Book is a terrific resource. It is broken into units that go along with the vocabulary and audio tracks as the student progresses through the lessons. The Audio Book files correspond with each lesson and have corresponding page numbers listed - super easy to use! The Answer Key makes grading the activity pages a breeze. And we all know how I feel about tedious grading with hard-to-use answer keys! I've even chosen not to purchase curriculum based solely on the answer key! Having the Student Book available in color or b&w saves a lot on printer ink costs. And we've found that the color book isn't at all difficult to read on the laptop, so we only print certain portions of the lessons. The Student Book is divided into logical sections which make the most sense for actually conversing in Spanish (i.e. Greetings, Telling Time, Foods, Family, Adjectives, Weather & Seasons, Months of the Year, Transportation, Animals, Sports, etc.). The layout of the lessons is real-world applicable. My kids travel to Mexico every other year for missions work - and believe me, having the ability to really communicate with the children there is priceless. The way REAL Homeschool Spanish is taught will enable them to better minister to and communicate with the children of Ensenada. The Daily Curriculum Guide explains how to "do" this program. The Weekly Prep portion makes my job easier and helps me not to forget any vital steps in the learning process. It is divided by Unit and by weeks, so you can easily adapt it to suit your individual family needs. There are 48 weeks worth of lessons, so it qualifies as a 2-year-program if you'd like to take a little more time to study Spanish.

You can learn more about REAL Homeschool Spanish at their website:

Their products can be purchased in hard copy form or as a download. I used the download, and it ran beautifully on my laptop so don't hesitate to consider that option! The Book Bundle contains the Book, Activity Book, Answer Book, and Audio Files as a download for $49.95, or $59.95 with the Daily Curriculum Guide. A hard copy bundle sells for $89.95 and $99.95, respective to the order listed previously.

Also available at their website are samples, culture links (these are awesome!), giveaways and even a place to help fight illiteracy.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about REAL Homeschool Spanish, click HERE.

And just for fun, here are a couple of pictures from my kid's most recent trip to Mexico :)

Lord bless you and your family as you continue to faithfully homeschool for His glory!

Day 145 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Almost the End of 2011

Today is the 29th of December. WOW!! A year ago I could not have dreamed all that would happen in 2011. It's a good time to take pause and reflect on what I hoped would be, what actually came to be, and what wasn't meant to be.

Our homeschool met many of my expectations, and failed at others (pretty much like every single year!). My marriage has improved and is stronger than ever after 20 years, and that is a wonderful gift from the Lord! Our finances have taken a hit this year; yet we take comfort in the fact that we are walking a path laid out for us by the Lord Almighty, and obedience is our job - the results are His. I've sent a son off to college and no longer have any kids in elementary grades. We still lead the youth group at our church, and the blessings we receive from our co-workers and the students cannot be counted. Even our pets have had a good year - they are aging well and remain healthy and a blessing to our family. Old friendships have deepened and new ones are developing. My oldest and my youngest both had orthopaedic surgery and have recovered well, praise the Lord. My pre-diabetes have remained under control and I live a daily lifestyle that is better than ever before. Our family vacation was filled with fun, friends, family and memories that will never fade. I could go on, but I really don't need to. In a nutshell, I'm so very thankful to the Lord for all He has done in my life over the past year. God is good, all of the time.

And while January marks the mid-point of our homeschool year, I am planning on imparting some "brand new year" techniques. We tend to kick it into high gear in January, February, March and into April. This year will be no different. But in order to keep going full-speed ahead, I need to begin each day with a positive attitude and find creative ways to keep my children focused, dedicated and "non-weary" (okay, that's not actually a word, but you get my drift...). I can't give my children what I myself do not posses, and so I begin in December to make a spiritual study plan for myself come January. Yes, it's redundant for me to tell you that being in God's Word daily is the key to a successful homeschool. Redundant or not, I just have to keep saying it because it's just the flat out truth.

My plan does not need to be your plan. God does not have a giant cookie cutter for stamping out His children. And He doesn't have cookie cutter plans for His children's lives, either. His specific spiritual plan for you is not the same as mine. And the only way to find out what He has planned for you is to listen to Him. Spend time in the Word, in prayer, and sitting quietly before Him listening to His leading. He may guide you to a small group or Sunday school class, a Bible study you can do on your own at home or perhaps with your husband, an online group or a local support group - but wherever He leads, be willing to follow. And take my advice sagely, remembering Isaiah 41; He will gently lead those that are with young. If you are feeling pushed or pulled, if you feel anything other than gentle leading, you need to stop right where you are and pray, pray, pray some more. He won't do anything contrary to His Word, and He won't lead you any way other than gently when you are a mother of young children. (I also think mother's of older children who homeschool need to be gently led by the Lord - it's too easy to be led by the voice of another but Jesus told us to follow His voice alone.)

So finish your year well, make the most of the time you have with your family, and seek His good and perfect and pleasing will at all times. He loves you dearly and will make a way for you that is filled with blessing, even if those blessings are part of a long, hard road.

Happy end of 2011 ~ may your 2012 be a fantastic year!

Day 144 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God by John I. Snyder

This book by John I. Snyder is a guided 100 day journey into a deeper prayer life. Each day's reading is concise but engaging, and the book is solidly based on the Word of God. It's easy to use ~ you can and should dive right in as soon as you buy this book! ~ and it truly does grow your faith as you face tough circumstances.

It's a book I thoroughly used and really, strongly, heartily recommend. I did receive this book (in e-book form) free of charge from for review purposes, but I am in no way obligated to give a favorable review. With all sincerity, I can say this book is one I will refer to for years to come. As a guide to praying through the hard stuff we all face in life, Your 100 Day Prayer: The Power of Actively Waiting on God was meant to be used again and again.

If you are looking for a book to encourage you in your walk with the Lord as you face any type of difficulty, this is the book for you. And since I'm writing this review in late December, I might also recommend Your 100 Day Prayer as a great book to read starting January 1st.

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I have to give this book a solid 5. I have been using this book daily since I received it and will be reading and re-reading it for years to come.

(Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge from BookSneeze for review purposes.)

Day 143 done :)

Jan L. Burt

www.HomeschoolingMothersBibleStudy.comI review for BookSneeze®

Homeschooling at Christmastime

How terrific is it to be a homeschool family during the month of December?!

I'll tell ya how terrific it is - fantastically, amazingly, superbly TERRIFIC!!

I love homeschooling. There's not much about it that I don't genuinely love - except grading... And homeschooling at Christmas is just icing on the cake. We end each year together, as a family, focusing on the Advent of our Lord Jesus - and we get to say good-bye to the old year, remember Jesus' coming, and ring in the new year all together as a family for the entire month of December.

So did I mention that I love homeschooling in December??

In December we decorate our house, do lots of baking, choose and wrap presents for friends and family, go caroling at a local nursing home with our church family, have a blast at our youth group's annual Christmas party, celebrate Advent nightly, decorate our yard with lights and blow-ups, enjoy our church dinner and talent show, spend time with family, and new this December is greeting our oldest child at the train station at 3am and then grabbing doughnuts at an all-night bakery.

We still "do school" during December. And we still have lots of normal, day-to-day things that have to take care of. My husband goes to work each day, the regular household chores still get done, life goes on. It just goes on with a whole lot more fun as we celebrate Jesus birth all month long.

So, what do you do to make the month of December special? Are you enjoying homeschooling as much as I am?

Enjoy this special time of year with your family and Lord bless you as you remember His choice to come to earth with the intention of giving His life on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins. How blessed we are that God has lavished His love on us so richly!

Day 142 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TOS Crew Product Review ~ The World's Greatest Stories Volume 1 (The Prophets)

I have often stated that teaching my children God's Word is the most important subject in our homeschool. It is always the first subject assigned in their planners, and every curriculum choice I make revolves around the Bible. So having the opportunity to review The World's Greatest Stories on CD (as told by George W. Sarris) was a perfect fit for my family.

I received Volume 1, The Prophets in the New International Version (free of charge for review purposes) along with a sample CD of Mr. Sarris' other dramatic readings from the Bible. Readings included in this volume are: The Blazing Furnace (Daniel 3), The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5), Daniel in the Lions' Den (Daniel 6), Elijah and the Prophets of Balls (I Kings 17-18), & The Prophecy of Jonah (Jonah 1-4).

George Sarris, a Northwestern graduate who also holds a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, does an excellent job of narrating the Biblical text on this CD. And the best thing about his work is that he reads straight from the Bible, word for word. He doesn't add to or detract from the actual Biblical text. I LOVE that!!

Each volume is about one hour in length, and Volume 1 has five stories on the CD. It was very easy for me to plan this as a part of my daughter's daily homeschool. It would also be easy to listen to these CD's when traveling in the car. My 6th grade daughter enjoyed listening to the narrative (so did I!) and she thought younger children would really enjoy these CDs. They open the world of the Bible to young listeners in a way that is engaging and interesting, but without any added fluff. It's just God's Word, and let's be honest - when studying the Bible, nothing more is needed :)

Each CD sells for $7.95 (cassette tapes are also available at the same price) and shipping is free if an entire set is purchased. That is quite an exceptional value!

Other volumes include:

Volume 2 - The Life of Christ
Volume 3 - Beginnings
Volume 4 - Joshua and Esther
Volume 5 - Joseph and His Brothers
Volume 6 - Defeating Giants

Each volume is available in either NIV or KJV.

To learn more, visit the website at or call 1-888-STORIES.

To see what my fellow TOS Crew mates had to say about The World's Greatest Stories, click HERE.

If you are looking for a "new" way to learn about the greatest Book ever written, then The World's Greatest Stories is something you should seriously consider. It's an excellent product that sells for a very reasonable price.

Lord bless you as you homeschool for God's glory!

Day 141 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2 Timothy 1:12 Says...

Have you ever believed someone, or believed in someone, and had it turn out poorly? On the converse, have you ever believed someone and had it turn out better than you had dared hope? And have you ever had someone believe in you? Did their belief turn out to be well-founded?

Everyone needs something to believe in; whether or not we want to admit it, that's the truth. Some of us believe in ourselves. Others believe in our spouses. Many people believe in their careers. And a lot of homeschooling mothers believe in - ahem, no flames please! - homeschooling. But in the end, and I mean the literal end, the only thing worth believing fully in is Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.

Homeschooling won't save me, my husband, or my children. It can be an excellent vessel to teach my children from God's Word - but only Jesus can save them. And if we begin homeschooling with the incorrect idea that it can save us, if we place all our hope in our family homeschool, if we believe in homeschooling in place of believing in Jesus, then we misplace our faith. I can believe any number of things, but if my belief is incorrect than it does me no good.

I'm totally preaching to the choir with this post. Most homeschool moms I know really want their children to know and love the Lord above all else, and their family's homeschool is a means to worship the King of kings (as compared to the incorrect belief that says homeschool is king). Since the purpose of my blog is to encourage moms who homeschool, let me give you some kudos for working to impart God's truth to your children daily. It's a tough job, homeschooling is, and not everyone recognizes that. You may not have heard "way to go!!" in quite some time, so let me say it again: "Way to go!!!" You're doing a great job. Don't forget it, either. Because your labor for the Lord is never in vain.

2 Timothy 1:12 starts off with, "I know whom I have believed..."

What a great reminder that we can trust God fully when our belief is placed solely in Him. He'll keep it safe for us with Him, and He'll present it to us when we step into eternity. And it's going to be worth every bit of struggle and toil. Keep reminding yourself that you know Whom you have believed - and even better, keep reminding yourself that He whom you have believed knows YOU! And He is keeping you for that day.

What a blessing to say, "Jesus knows me, this I love."

Lord bless you today!

Day 140 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Heroes & Villains Of The Bible - Real Stories, Actual Bible Text (Tommy Nelson)

Heroes & Villains of the Bible - Real Stories, Actual Bible Text (from Tommy Nelson publishing) is a children's book of 50 Bible stories from both the Old and New Testament. The text is taken directly from the Bible (International Children's Bible version). It is a 244 page hard cover book, with an introduction, Old Testament section, New Testament section, and a final "Note to Heroes".

This book holds up well with use and has enough artwork to keep younger readers interested. The text is straight from the Bible, which I absolutely love, and the stories are short enough that children can easily read one each day; they can also keep on reading if they so choose. The unique focus on heroes and villains from God's Word sets the book apart. Each story has a brief introduction about the characters involved, and ends with a wrap up that encourages the reader to be a hero (and not a villain).

I review for BookSneeze®

On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I am giving this book a 4. It's different than many books on the market, my children and I enjoyed reading it, and it's God's Word (what's not to love about that?!).

(Disclaimer ~ I received this book free of charge from BookSneeze for review purposes.)

Day 139 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Dog Can Talk!

My daughter's Pug, Mimi, does this when she hears us calling for her "girl" Alexandra (Alex for short). Listen carefully to see if you can hear Mimi try to say "Alex" ~ it sounds something like "Oww-Wes" and a couple of times she seems to say "Ow-Wes-An-Dra". What's hilarious is that Mimi ONLY does this when she hears the name of her owner, Alex.

Happy Pug Watching!

Day 138 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Family Just Created Our Own TShirt on

Okay, so our family is forever cracking jokes, spouting one-liners, quoting movies, and in general laughing hysterically at one another. Seriously, we do this ALL THE TIME!

Last night at dinner something struck my daughter's as funny; strike that, it struck them as beyond funny and they could not stop laughing. They decided they wanted to keep this humorous state going and wanted to find a t-shirt to give away as a Christmas gift in honor of this superbly funny event. Since they didn't have much luck finding a shirt that suited them, they decided to make one at (Which is a great place to create custom shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc.) After making their shirt, they decided to create a "store" at where they could sell their newly created t-shirt.

And next thing ya know - VIOLA!! - they're off and running in yet another creative venture in the true spirit of homeschooling!

To check out their store - called BurtsShirts - click HERE. Keep in mind they only have one product available right now, but they will come up with more witticisms with great rapidity.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Have a humor-filled homeschool day & be sure to pause and take advantage of moments like these, because these are the kind of interruptions that you will remember for years to come!

Day 137 done :)

Jan L. Burt