A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers

A Blog Devoted to Encouraging Homeschooling Mothers
The Burts in 2013

Monday, April 30, 2012

Don't Despise the Day of Small Things

So I have started something totally new, and while it's not a "big" thing, it's still pretty big to me. I have created a new website to promote my new career as a (drum roll, please!) homeschool consultant!

Since I have about 15 years of experience with this whole homeschooling thing, and I have a real desire to encourage my fellow homeschooling mothers, and most importantly I strive to follow the Lord's leading in all areas of my life - well, this was the next step for me.

It's a small start, but it is a start, and I'm happy to begin this new thing God has led me to.

If you would like to see my new website for my new little business, you can find me at:

Let me know what you think; I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Lord bless you as you the life All Things Homeschool!!

Day 183 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April Evaluations

In the local public schools, April is the month of "testing, testing, testing". The entire year's work is condensed into a couple of weeks worth of assessments. Is there anything homeschoolers can learn from this annual occurance in the public school system?

I think that April is an excellent month for homeschool families to do a little assessing of their own. What has been the best curriculum choice this academic year? What weighed your family down? Is there anything you really, really wanted to study, but now here it is April and you never got around to it? Any activities that are keepers? Or any that simply must go? Is your system for grading working well? What about updating transcripts for your high school students? Does you method of assigning household chores work well, or could it use a little retooling? April (and into May) is the perfect time to assess your home and your homeschool and fix whatever needs fixing. Everything is fresh in your mind right now; come August, it probably won't be. (And if this post sounds a little like a broken record from last spring, that's probably because it's so important to a successful long-term homeschool experience.)

But the biggest and best reason to evaluate your family's homeschool right now, before you close the book on this school year, is because all those things that need to change, I mean those things that you just KNOW the Lord has been speaking to you about, are in the very forefront of your mind. You couldn't dodge them right now if you wanted to! It's all laid bare right now, warts and all. This is the ideal time to prune what needs pruing in order to make next year a whole lot more fruitful. Only you know what those things are; only you can take advantage of the here and now and make the changes that will most benefit your family while bringing glory to God.

Allow yourself, with the Lord's help, to prune away those things. And expect God's blessings to flow into your life as you begin your summer with a "clean slate", plan for next year with an unstressed heart and mind, and receive His grace as you enjoy a fruitful academic year come fall. His gifts are always good; His ways are always perfect; His will is always trustworthy.

Next fall marks my 15th year of homeschooling. WOW! It's incredible that I have been able to live this life, the perfect fit for me, and walk in God's blessing for 15 years! Were I to count my oldest child's preschool years, next fall would be my 17th year of home education. I truly am blessed to have had so much time with my children, and I am grateful for all I have learned from the Lord as I walked this road with Him.

I take great delight in encouraging my fellow homeschooling mothers. It's the best job in the world, but it can also be the toughest job on the planet. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that make the longest of days a little shorter, and the best days a little longer. As I get closer to the end of my road as a mom who homeschools ~for the 2012-13 year I will have 3 daughters in high school and 1 in middle school ~ I have been considering how I can serve other homeschoolers well into the future. And I believe the Lord has shown me the next step to take.

In addition to writing a second book over the summer (which is going very well; I have 20 days worth of devotions compiled!)I think I may embark on a new adventure as a homeschool consultant. Sharing what I know while I move toward my next "career", even as I finish up my years of homeschooling, is my next big idea. I'd love to hear what you think about this new thing I'll be doing! And if you want to tell me I'm crazy, that having 4 kids at home that I'm teaching is a full-time job, I'll listen gladly :)

May the Lord bless you abundantly this spring as you consider what He would have you prune today in order to best glorify Him in the future.

Day 182 done :)

Jan L. Burt

PS ~ My daughter recently updated her website (see her link above) and she would love to have a few people look it over!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SWIPE by Evan Angler (Booksneeze review)

Evan Angler's book for middle-school aged readers entitled SWIPE surprised me. The subject matter has been covered so often in Christian fiction, and I have read so much poor quality fiction, I found myself happily shocked that Angler's book was pretty darn good. He has taken the Biblical revelation of the mark of the best for obtaining food and created a believable world for young readers.

The main character, Logan Langly, is about to turn 13 and receive the mark. But Logan is a twitchy, nervous boy and he has serious doubts about being marked. Friendships develop, mystery ensues, and drama abounds. Middle schoolers (and even those a little older) will enjoy this well-written book.

On my 'Page Turner Scale' of 1 to 5, I am giving this book a 5.

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

Day 181 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Thursday, April 19, 2012

TOS Crew Product Review ~ Amazing Science! DVD (Volume 1)

Amazing Science!(Volume 1) is a DVD containing 23 experiments the teach fundamental principles of science in a fun and easy-to-do manner. While using Amazing Science! you will learn abut electricity, magnetism, heat, temperature, pressure, surface tension, buoyancy and a whole lot more. Every experiment is explained step-by step, and a complete materials list is provided so you can do the experiments right at home.

The experiments proved easy to implement into our homeschool day. Most of them required basic supplies we already had around the house. They were also fun, which is a big plus! (I've learned the hard way that science experiments work best when they are fun!)

The teacher on the DVD, Jason Gibson, has advanced degrees in Engineering and Physics, and has worked for NASA. My children were already comfortable with Mr. Gibson as a "teacher" since we have used some of the math DVDs offered at I have always been very pleased with the results of these programs.

An example of how to use Amazing Science! in your homeschool would be this:
Say your child is in middle school (or even high school) and your state requires a science lab for graduation. You could easily add this DVD to any science text you are already using. The wide variety of sciences covered by Amazing Science! allows it to fit well no matter what type of curriculum you currently use. By simply doing the experiments, your child will have completed the lab required for high school credit in most states. Be sure to keep track of the time spent on each experiment, since the lab "time" is in addition to the coursework done with via the textbook. (If my daughter spent 20 minutes on an experiment, I write "lab- 20 min" in my planner when I grade her science for that day.) You will also want to have the student take notes on his or her experiment; you can use a spiral bound notebook or fill in more formal "lab sheets". You could have the student follow the scientific method as they do each experiment, documenting each step along the way. Then - VIOLA! - you have successfully completed a high school science lab right at home. On your child's high school transcript, document this as a "Science Course with Lab".

I had two of my daughters use Amazing Science!, and both of them loved it. I wasn't surprised. produces quality DVDs that teach while being enjoyable, and Amazing Science! doesn't disappoint.

Amazing Science! sells for $19.95 and can be purchased at along with their many other DVDs.

To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say about Amazing Science!, click HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions shared her are solely my own.
Have a fantastic day as you homeschool for the Lord's glory!

Day 180 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Here I Go Again! PLUS A Giveaway

If you follow my blog, you may have read a couple of my posts titled "A Homeschool Mom's Devotional #1 & #2". That was the beginning of a new project, and I'm now ready to jump in feet first and put some hard work into said project. So my not-so-big announcement is...I am writing my second book. My first book was a 6-week Bible study for homeschooling mothers, available as an e-book or in print edition. This book will be a devotional for women who homeschool, and I hope to make it available in print and for the Kindle.

Now that I have officially made the announcement via my blog that I am writing another book, I should probably ask myself if I have misplaced my mind. After all, I'm a busy homeschool mom who will have 3 high school daughters and 1 middle school daughter next year (plus my son will be a college sophomore). Oh, and did I mention my husband and I head up our church's youth group...and next summer the youth will take a mission trip to Mexico...which we need to plan from start to finish? (Having done this before I know EXACTLY what it takes to prepare for this mission trip.) And I will have a senior in high school next year...and pulling off a homeschool graduation is a daunting task, as mama who is already teacher also becomes guidance counselor. Those college applications are actually a lot of work, and not just for the student!

After thinking about it for a moment, I have decided that I have not misplaced my mind. In fact, the most sane thing for me to do at this point in my life is to write another book. Because the Lord is calling me to write this book, and the safest place to be, the only place I ever want to be, is smack dab in the center of His will.

So here is my plan (which may or may not pan out, since I'll leave the final plan to God): I am kicking off my book writing madness today on my blog with a fun giveaway. This giveaway doesn't have a million conditions, I don't expect you to follow my blog or like something on Facebook or Tweet about my book, etc. (Not that those are bad things; they are simply not things that fit with the purpose of my blog). The only condition is that you leave me a comment containing your name (so I can contact you if you are the winner) and something that has been a source of encouragement to you as a homeschooling mother, which is fitting since the purpose of my blog is to encourage moms who homeschool! So tell me about a book, a favorite Bible verse, a speaker you heard at a convention, a fellow homeschooling mom, etc. and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Ann Voskamp's terrific book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. If you haven't heard of Ann Voskamp, she is a down-to-earth mother of 6 who also happens to homeschool. And her book will open your eyes to things you haven't seen before.

This giveaway will end on May 17th, 2012, so leave me a comment!

Watch for further updates on my progress and for more fun giveaways. And I will give away a second copy of One Thousand Gifts when the book is finished - and I hope to be finished by the end of August.

To see a fellow homeschool mother's Ann Voskamp giveaway, click HERE.

You can read my post "A Homeschool Mom's Devotional #1" HERE.

And devotional #2 can be found HERE.

Good luck and happy homeschooling!

Day 179 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TOS Crew Product Review ~ God's Great Covenant, New Testament 1 (Classical Academic Press)

Classical Academic Press has created a top-notch Bible resource called "God's Great Covenant". There are both Old and New Testament components available, and I was blessed to receive the New Testament 1 set to review.

If I were to give a one-word review of God's Great Covenant, it would simply be W-O-W!! I absolutely love this curriculum! And my 6th grade daughter absolutely loves it, too. It's good stuff. Strike that; it's fantastic stuff.

I received the Student Book (346 pages), the Teacher's Edition (346 pages), and Audio Files (as a download). Aimed at students in the 4th grade on up, God's Great Covenant is thorough enough to be used into the high school years. The text has 4 units which contain 36 weekly chapters, covers all 4 Gospels, and has a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the life of Christ. The student book is consumable, which is something to keep in mind while planning where to spend your homeschool budget. (Prices are listed below)

The Teacher's Edition contains an introduction, historical/political introduction, chronological introduction, geographical introduction, religious introduction, and a daily life introduction that corresponds with the Student Book. These introductions lay a firm foundation for the lessons in the book, and my daughter and I spent a few days reading through all of them. She learned so much from the wealth of info in the first 32 pages, and I was surprised how much I learned. It was fascinating, and worth taking the time to study at a slower pace. There is a treasure to be found by digging into God's Great Covenant; don't miss any of that treasure by skipping over these introductions!

I love that the Teacher's Edition has plenty of room to take notes, which is terrific for someone like me who can hardly resist scrawling notes all over my books. The "Notes to Teachers and Parents" is very helpful, and the numbered footnotes make teaching a breeze. Pretty much any question my daughter had was answered via these footnotes. And one of my favorite features of God's Great Covenant is that the pages in the Teacher's Edition correspond exactly with the pages in the Student Book! When I am on page 37 comparing the Synoptic Gospels, so is my daughter. This is a feature that I truly appreciate after 14 years of using many curricula that don't have aligning page numbers in student & teacher books.

To provide you with an example of the kind of things covered in God's Great Covenant, let me share a little about the comparison of Pharisees to Sadducees (p. 27). This is something that believers will be blessed to understand as they study the New Testament, since a lack of understanding leaves the reader unclear on the meaning of many Bible passages. It's important, but not often taught. How cool is it that my 12-year-old now understands that the Pharisees were the largest and most influential group of religious leaders while the Sadducees were wealthy and politically prominent; or that the Pharisees regarded oral tradition very highly, while Sadducees had no regard for oral tradition! Yet these two opposing parties united as one "against" Roman rule to form the Council of the Sanhedrin. Reading the Gospels comes to life in new ways with this kind of understanding!

Each lesson has Theme, Scripture, Memory Passage, Key Facts Chart, and Prophecy Fulfilled segments, followed up with Review Worksheets. (The Key Facts are my favorite!)At the end of each unit are more Review Worksheets, and they are terrific. They aren't too easy, but also aren't too difficult. Thorough, but done in a way this isn't overwhelming. And the text is engaging, not boring and not babyish. God's Great Covenant is perfect for our homeschool family's Bible curriculum needs.

If you would like to explore all that Classical Academic Press has to offer, visit their website at If you would like to see some sample pages from God's Great Covenant, New Testament 1, click HERE.

The God's Great Covenant, New Testament 1 bundle (which contains the student and teacher books along with the audio files) sells for $56.95.
The student book alone is $26.95, while the teacher edition alone is $29.95, and the audio files are $9.95.

Also available are Old Testament 1, Old Testament 2, and other subjects commonly taught via the classical method.

To read what my Crew mates had to say about God's Great Covenant, click HERE.

Disclaimer ~ I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

May the Lord richly bless you as you study His Word for His glory!

Day 178 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Preferred Bible Reading Plan

We all know that reading our Bibles is a key part of living a healthy life as a follower of Jesus. But busy homeschool moms may, at times, struggle to know what part of the Bible to read on any given day.

Some people read the Bible through, Genesis to Revelation, and when they finish simply start over. Others have reading plans that follow along with the sermons their pastor is currently preaching. And yet others find themselves "stuck in the Psalms", since they're not quite sure what to read.

I'm not going to tell you how many chapters a day you should read, or that you need to do exactly what I do. I'm just going to share what has worked for me, and hopefully encourage you to get into the Word using some type of plan ~ because every homeschool mom knows what happens to our plans when we fail to create a plan, right?!

I use a prayer and Bible reading guide called "Prayer Point", published by Samaritan's Purse. About every 8 weeks, I receive a new issue of "Prayer Point" in the mail. Each issue has a brief note from Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse ministries), a prayer focus from somewhere around the world for each week, 7 days worth of daily Bible reading for each week, a place to journal, a mail in form for prayer requests you'd like to send to Samaritan's Purse, and a brief article called Prayer Focus from a godly man or woman.

This week's reading looks like this:
Sunday ~ Psalms 42-44
Monday ~ Exodus 5-8
Tuesday ~ 1 Samuel 21-25
Wednesday ~ Job 2-30
Thursday ~ Jeremiah 12-16
Friday ~ Mark 9-10
Saturday ~ 1 Corinthians 13-14

Using "Prayer Point" enables me to read through the entire Bible in a year, reminds me to pray for those in great need of Christ's love all around the globe, and follows a pattern that works well for me. I have used this guide for many years and I plan to continue using it for many more. At times I add additional reading to "Prayer Point"; for example, our youth group is currently doing Chip Ingram's r12 Bible Study, so I have added Romans chapter 12 to my regular daily reading. Whenever I am involved in a small group I do the required Bible reading in addition to my daily reading as laid out in "Prayer Point".

If you are interested in receiving "Prayer Point" in your mailbox (free of charge) you can learn more at, or you can write them at Samaritan's Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC, 28607-3000.

Feel free to leave a comment about your preferred Bible reading method, and whatever you do, never become discouraged about this matter! Jump in feet first right where you are, ask the Lord to meet you right where you are, and allow Him to lead you along His pathway for your life (which includes the ideal way for you to read the Bible on a regular basis.)

Lord bless you as you dig into His Word!

Day 177 done :)                                                                

Jan L. Burt


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TOS Crew Product Review - Looking At Lines, Algebraic Thinking Series (AIMS Education Foundation)

If you are not a math person, or you feel a little intimidated about teaching higher math as a homeschooler, then Looking at Lines (Algebraic Thinking Series, AIMS Education Foundation) could be just the resource you need.

I'm not exactly a math person, and not all of my kids are math people. In addition to that, my kids have unique learning styles, and I have my own teaching style. Mix all those ingredients together and you end up with a recipe for math that is, at times, less than tasty. Sometimes the solution is as simple as trying something new - and the new thing I was able to try was Looking at Lines.

Looking at Lines is a 298 page book that comes with a CDrom, published by AIMS Education Foundation (a non-profit organization aimed at helping students succeed in math & science). Geared toward students in grades 6-9, Looking at Lines is an algebra course that teaches linear function concepts in a hands-on, activity laden manner while meeting benchmarks and standards. It provides mastery in five ways: in the real-world situation, with a data table, via a graph, with a written statement, and by applying a rule. Using Looking at Lines enables the student to translate any of these forms into any other form. In other words, it uses a variety of learning methods in order to teach complete mastery of the subject matter.

The book is divided into six parts - Part 1 Algebraic Thinking - Linear Functions; Part 2 Linear Functions in Science; Part 3 Constructing and Reading Data Tables & Graphs; Part 4 Linear Functions in Objects; Part 5 More Interesting Objects; Part 6 Equalities & Inequalities. Which, in what order, and how many activities are used should be based upon the progress of each student. This is perfect for flexible homeschool families who desire their children move ahead at their own pace. However, Part 1 activities build a solid foundation for algebra and should probably be completed by all students.

Basically, the curriculum is best used by working through each activity at the student's own pace. Hands-on activities are laid out with easy to follow instructions. You simply do what it says, one step at a time! A handy reproducible (found on p. ix) contains a generic set of questions that can be used with any of the activities. Students should be able to answer these key questions if they have mastered a topic. This "Looking Back" page is a quick and easy review that requires no testing. I really, really like this feature of Looking at Lines.

Students can use a graphing calculator to help with slope, y-intercept, and uniform change - and I personally recommend every high school student taught at home be sure to learn to use a TI-83 or TI-84. This one aspect of Looking at Lines is a good start for students who might take the ACT or SAT in the future. Middle and high school students need to be comfortable with these concepts if they plan to attend college. And in our family, we prepare our children for a variety of possibilities, narrowing our focus at the Lord's leading, but always leaving room for Him to make changes to our "man-made" plans. College prep coursework is one of the ways we keep every door open for His guidance.

If you happen to teach math in a co-op setting, Looking at Lines could be worth looking into. The purchaser is allowed to make 200 copies of each page, and AIMS has an option for unlimited copies should you need more than the allowed number. The CDrom contains all the activity pages in an easy to print format. The book/CDrom set sells for $24.95 and can be purchased at

The only thing I really didn't enjoy about this product was completing all the activities. I am a multi-tasking mom, and I am not artistic by nature, so I found myself struggling a little bit. But most middle school students would jump at the chance to do algebra in a hands-on way, so that enthusiasm balances out my "blahs"!

Other products from AIMS Education Foundation reviewed by the TOS Crew include:

What On Earth? (grades K-1) $21.95
Earth Rocks! (grades 4-5) $29.95
Fabulous Fractions (grades 3-5) $21.95
From Head to Toe (grades 6-9) $24.95
It's About Time (grades K-2) $21.95

To read those reviews, click HERE.

To read a review I did in September 2011 of another AIMS product, click THIS LINK.

And to visit their website and see all they offer for math and science, go to

Disclaimer - I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 176 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Monday, April 9, 2012

How Do I Avoid Homeschool Burnout?!?!

As a mother who has been homeschooling for 14 years, I have learned a thing or two about avoiding burnout...and most of the time, I apply what I have learned BEFORE burnout sets in!

We cook, we clean, we teach, we shuttle kids from point A to point B and back again, some of us help out at church, some of us keep a weblog, and don't forget about the spouse. S-I-G-H...we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and headed for burnout just looking at the calendar. It's best to plan ahead to try and offset burnout, and sometimes it's best to simply admit we're in a season of "burnout" because the Lord may be using it to allow Him to do some pruning in our lives.

The first thing I must do in order to avoid burnout is to spend time with the Lord daily. That means I have to get up before my children, which means I must go to bed at a reasonable time. And in order to go to bed on time, I need to follow a schedule for things like meals, laundry, dishes, grading, and all the rest. Whatever you do, don't cut out time with the Lord. Make the rest of your day yield to your time with Jesus and He will fit the day's agenda into the remaining hours. Trust me, it works.

The second thing I do to keep homeschool burnout at bay is to regularly check my curriculum choices and cut out what is not producing fruit. I am the Queen of Overplanning - I always have way more in my homeschool cabinet come September than I could possibly teach in a nine-month school year. But by allowing the Lord to decide what stays in the cabinet and what is put away for another time, I am able to complete each year's school work in good time. In fact, we are usually done with most of our curriculum by April. Not mostly done, not 80% done, but all the way done. And that is a very nice feeling!

The third thing I do to avoid becoming a psychotic homeschool mom on the verge of starting the Third World War is to make sure I'm not taking too much time for myself. Yes, this is the opposite of what modern day psychology tells us, and is at odds with a lot of Christian advice. But just as a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion, so a mother who is greedy with her time becomes even more greedy with her time - to the extent that she never really feels rested or refreshed. Homeschooling moms are not greater than our Master, Jesus Christ, and He came not to be served but to serve. It's tough to crucify the flesh, but it's worth all the effort. God blesses this act of self-discipline in ways you would never imagine. I encourage you to try it for yourself. It is the path to a blessed life.

These are my top 3 tips for avoiding homeschool burnout, learned after 14 years (some years longer than others!) of living the home educating life. Thanks for taking the time to read them, and God bless you on your homeschooling journey!

Day 175 done :)

Jan L. Burt

TOS Crew Product Review ~ Write With World (Middle School Edition)

The publishers of WORLD Magazine and God's World News have created a terrific new writing program called Write With WORLD. This curriculum is primarily aimed at 6th-9th grade students, comes with a Parent/Teacher book and a Student book, and can be used with God's World Publications magazines (but the use of WORLD or God's World News is not required).

The introduction in the Parent/Teacher book says, "Write With WORLD aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and intelligently share ideas, beliefs, and their worldview." Without gushing and ooh-ing and ahh-ing too much, I can tell you that Write With WORLD does exactly what it sets out to do.

Write With WORLD contains 16 key lessons, which are divided into 4 separate units. Here are some examples:
Unit 1/Lesson 1 - Reading Images and Advertisements
Unit 1/Lesson 4 - Developing Critical Readers: Essays
Unit 3/Lesson 1 - Writing Autobiography: Reporting Facts
Unit 4/Lesson 4 - Crafting Narratives: Writing a Fictional Narrative

Some supplies that will help your student get the most out of Write With WORLD include a dictionary, a thesaurus, a timer, highlighters, a few magazines, and some family photos.

I should also mention that you can use a separate grammar curriculum if you choose, but the company assumes you won't be using one. Write With WORLD covers the top 20 grammar errors most college students make and some other common problems younger writers encounter, so grammar instruction is covered using this curriculum. In our family, we did not add an additional curriculum for grammar while using Write With WORLD.

The Write With WORLD Middle School Edition is priced at $95/year (the 2 books I reviewed are Year 1; there will be 2 similar textbooks available for Year 2) or $165 if you purchase both the 1st and 2nd year books at the same time. This price includes access to the user website that will be coming in the fall of 2012. God's World Publications may create a high school curriculum at some point in the future, so be sure to check their website for updates.

To purchase Write With WORLD, or to look at a sample lesson, visit

For more information on WORLD Magazine visit; for info about God's World News, visit

In closing, I'd like to offer thanks to God's World Publications for creating Write With WORLD. As a Christian homeschooling mother, I truly appreciate this strongly Christian curriculum and their goal to bring glory to God and advance His kingdom by training the next generation. I am very blessed to have received this product, and I hope my blog readers will consider it for their family's homeschool needs.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Write With WORLD, click HERE.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 174 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Promise of Easter

Easter Sunday truly is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar. This is the "big day" each year for followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other day can compare.

What makes it so important has nothing to do with the trappings of the westernized version of this day. Not a large bunny delivering candy to children, of course; but also not new clothes, family dinners, flowers or anything else. It's not even simply about attending a church service (although I believe the gathering of the saints together is extremely important for every believer). This day is all about the Resurrection, because without the Resurrection of Jesus we would have no hope, no assurance, no future in heaven with Him. Everything we do to celebrate Easter ought to point us toward Jesus and His Resurrection; we live because He lives. The tomb is empty. He is risen indeed!

So enjoy your family today, be blessed by the fellowship you share with your church family (and by all means, attend church every Sunday - not just on Easter Sunday!!), and feel free to enjoy eating the ears off your chocolate bunny...but let all those things point your heart and mind toward our risen Lord. Praise God the tomb is empty and our hope rests securely in Christ.

Lord bless you this Easter Sunday!

Day 173 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TOS Crew Product Review - TruthQuest History Renaissance/Reformation/Exploration (1400-1600)

When given the option of choosing which of the nine available history guides I wanted to use for this review, I was beyond excited! Reviewing a terrific history product from a fabulous company like TruthQuest was pretty terrific; add to that terrific-ness the fact that I got to pick which era in history I wanted to use was the icing on the cake!

After much deliberation, I chose TruthQuest History's guide to the Renaissance/Reformation/Exploration (1400-1600) . And for our family's little homeschool, I think it was the perfect choice!

Let me tell you a little bit about TruthQuest History - how the program works, what makes it unique, etc.

TruthQuest History makes it's history guides available in print or pdf form, which means that any and every homeschool can find an option that is perfect for their family's needs. The guides are literature-based history studies - which simply means they use solid literature, that's interesting and of the highest quality, to teach history. The guides are done in chronological order, from Creation to 2000 A.D. A homeschool family could purchase a guide to pick up where they left off in their study of God's work in our world (which is really the only reason to study history, after all). Or you could purchase the first guide and begin to learn about God's purposes in history beginning with Creation!

History is taught as "God's initiation and our response" with TruthQuest, and I have found this to be a unique and thorough way to study the 1400's through the 1600's. All of my children have been using this resource, and all of my children have learned a TON with TruthQuest. Here is how we use TruthQuest History in our homeschool: we jumped right in and started with the early 1400's by studying John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. First we read the section from the TruthQuest guide about Wycliffe and Hus, and then we began to read some of the recommended books about these men. With such a terrific list of book options included in these guides, we were able to pick and choose which ones we wanted to read. Some titles we owned, others we borrowed from our local public library, and other could be found on I should note that there were some titles we were not able to find; however, with such a wide selection it didn't hinder us in our studies.)

After we've finished studying about one group of people or era in time, we would move on to the next topic in the guide. There are fun ideas of projects too, like starting a family newspaper, using lapbooks, creating timelines, art projects, and more. Sometimes we would use these ideas, but primarily we focused on reading the great books. We haven't begun to dig into the wealth of information in TruthQuest History, and we have done quite a lot!

My family's personal options for reading material may not be the same as yours, so be sure to follow the Lord's leading for your family and skip topics or subject matter as you deem best. Pick and choose from the vast array of book options, implement writing assignments and maybe even watch a movie about a topic for a change! As for testing, you could have older children "create" a quiz for younger learners, or have each child give a presentation on a topic they have studied. History is about more than memorizing dates, so be sure to keep it central in your family's homeschool as God's story.

Using the guide for the Renaissance/Reformation/Exploration (1400-1600) era, we have learned about (or will be learning about!) John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Thomas a'Kempis, Rogier van der Weyden, Dante, Donatello, Henry the Navigator, Florence, Johann Gutenberg, the War of the Roses, Henry Tudor, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, the Battle of Granada, the Spanish Inquisition, Vascode Gama, Amerigo Vespucci, Ponce de Leon, Erasmus, Martin Luther, the Ottoman Empire, Herman Cortez, the Aztec Indian, the Auca Indians, Hernando DeSoto, Henry VIII, the Anabaptists, Copernicus, Ivan the Terrible, the Council of Trent, the Huguenots, Sir Francis Drake, Johannes Kepler and a whole lot more!! As you can surmise from this list, TruthQuest History delivers in content and quality. It's a tremendous value the price (which range from $24.95-$34.95 for print editions or $19.95-$29.95 for pdf editions).

To learn more, or to make a purchase, visit

The TOS Crew were able to review all of the guides, so if you are looking for information about a specific era in history read the other reviews click HERE.

Disclaimer: As always, I received this product free of charge for review purposes. Opinions shared here are solely my own.

Keep God's story central to your study of history and you will be amazed at how your faith in Him will grow!

Day 172 done :)

Jan L. Burt

Great Day Every Day by Max Lucado (BookSneeze review)

Max Lucado does it again. He's a down-to-earth guy who writes up-toward-heaven books, and Great Day Every Day is no exception. Easy to read, a source of Biblical encouragement, and worth the time spent reading it and the money spent to buy it.

Like most modern day American Christians, I have a few Max Lucado books upon my shelves. So it wasn't hard for me to be excited about reading one of his books for this BookSneeze review. But as much as I anticipated enjoying the book, I wasn't prepared for the way it would bless me as I think about the way I live every single day of my life. Not only is it an encouraging book, but it can be a life changing book if the reader applies what Max is teaching them.

On my 'Page Turner Scale' of 1 to 5, I am giving this book a 5. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy a great day every day!

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

Day 171 done :)

Jan L. Burt